My Bonsai Journey

I decided to join the Bonsai Society in February 2021 and a very big thank you for making me feel welcome. Thank you to Janet and Luke for hosting workshops in their homes and the many other members who have selflessly added their words of wisdom in advice for me

It’s pleasantly relaxing to listen to the eggshells crushing under my fingers until the quiet is interrupted by the grandson – “what are they for?” “Obvious”, I say “the junipers” – he’ll go away and think on it and come back with “why” at a later time! This secret about the eggshells was what I had learned last month at the club meeting and caused me to reflect on my first contact with bonsai around 60 years ago.
On relocating to Adelaide, my mother, with more time on her hands and within walking distance of Lasscock’s Nursery, found pots and her first purchase, a Moreton Bay fig – which is disputed, but I shall still refer to it as such.
How my mother decided bonsai was for her, I have no idea. She had no knowledge of wiring – “you pruned the tips and roots when necessary” and she would occasionally hang a weight on a branch to get some shape!!! But in saying that, she produced what I remember to be some beautiful Ginko forests, a Cotoneaster (dug from friend’s gardens) many other Ficus and a Sophora which over the years, would take pride of place in the lounge for a few days at a time and drew many comments.
No internet and limited access to information, she just experimented and enjoyed her results. On her death most were given away. I took a few but with lack of time – disastrous results – but one has survived.

Over time, one of my daughters, looking for gifts, weddings, funerals, birthdays discovered Spirit of Bonsai and would present her friends with a tree. I too inherited a few from my shopping visits with her, but they were sadly placed in areas where they mostly had to fend for themselves, with not much love and attention apart from the very occasional lift from the pot – “prune the tips and roots” and a return to its spot in the garden. I did a workshop at Bonsai Mujo about 9 years ago with the same daughter and then had a Juniper to add to the little collection. We never potted them up so I again “pruned the tips and roots” and sometime later placed it in a pot – this was “my way” bonsai!!

January 2020 with no knowledge of how COVID would wreak havoc on our lives, I decided to do a little upgrade to my courtyard which grew to a major overhaul. My garden furniture was looking very average beside some new stained timber. There had been a progression of Golden Retriever puppies chewing over many years, so, what else to do when most things were shut down – I sanded and stained – nothing will ever look quite the same, but I say “rustic” is ok! Now I had an area in which to display and that needed to be filled. I retrieved my trees, an Elm covered in scale which was looking very sad, 2 Junipers, an Olive, self-sown in my driveway, a few assorted Ficus and my pride and joy the “original” Moreton Bay fig now some 60 years old and a tangible memory of a very special person in my life.

The annual show of the Bonsai Society 2020 again ignited my interest in bonsai as I became aware of what my little “trees in pots” might become with a improved knowledge and care from me.

So, this is the survivor of so many years of neglect – I wonder what it could have been in another’s hands? I know its trunk is a little ugly and too many other faults to mention, but as I say, it is a treasured memory, even the rocks as my mother placed them all that time ago – it remains special to me.

Now at least I am learning that there is more to bonsai than “prune the tips and roots when necessary”. And hopefully my little “trees in pots” will take on a new dimension in the future.

2023 Bonsai Show