Bonsai trees provoke mixed responses, although well grown, they can be as beautiful as one of nature’s giants. This Trident maple (Acer buergerianum), grown in the twin trunk style, is around 120 years old. Its eggcup sized companion is some kind of fern. Techniques to keep plants so small include wiring them into shape, then pruning roots and branches while restricting them to very small containers.
It’s tempting to see them and feel torn. Is it unnatural? If so, is going against nature cruel?
Bonsai practitioners view their extreme gardening as a traditional art form that extends the lifespan of the tree. Each of their plants has to be lavished with attention and kindness to keep it healthy.
The odd time I’ve seen small stands of bonsai trees growing together, I’ve been amazed. These cypresses don’t look unhappy to me, although one does look like a member of the Household Guard adjusting their bearskin.
We can’t argue that nature is always kind to trees: the odds are stacked high against their potential offspring. A seed plucked from a tree and grown into a bonsai is more likely to live than seeds left to nature.
Most tree seeds are eaten, or fall on ground that is not hospitable. Those that germinate usually die from lack of water, nutrients or sunlight or the attention of deer and other creatures. Most seedlings that survive their first year come to grief well before they reach maturity. This might seem a bit harsh until we remember it is supposed to take millions of acorns on average to produce every mature oak.
I thought this subject would be a good way to introduce Becky’s October challenge, on the topic ‘Kind’.
[Becky is asking us to guess which of the men pictured in her post is her father. My (wild) guess is the third from the left on the middle row.]