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October 11, 2018 9:07 AM   Subscribe

How I Learned to Love Bonsai, Harley Rustad - "When my amateur attempts at the art weren’t working, I went to YouTube star Nigel Saunders"
posted by the man of twists and turns (6 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Through ineptitude and neglect, I have murdered every bonsai tree that ever had the misfortune of crossing my path. Now on my desk I prefer to put attractive looking stones and the occasional acorn. I will now go RTFA.
posted by gwint at 9:16 AM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

"To grow a bonsai—a tree that I could hold in my hand—became the ultimate expression of this fascination. But, as a hobby and an art, it felt inaccessible. The examples I saw appeared inconceivable, grown with styling and caring techniques that appeared fastidious and inflexible—as if I needed decades of study before ever touching a tree. I stuck with houseplants."

That's also how I feel about them, except houseplants are as good as dead in my hands too. I love how the author up and went to meet their youtube-teacher directly. Kudos to them for even having a seed survive into a tree sapling of any sort. I admit I got suckered into buying a bonsai earlier this year, didn't last long and waste basically a waste of money. If I ever try it again, I'm going to remember the videos in this link, seems like an invaluable resource. For now though, I'm content with my dead bonsai and it's dead leaves. I've been tempted to like, cover it in a lacquer or polyurethane or something to keep it the way it is. The leaves haven't fallen off in almost a year and I like the dead-bonsai look as a decoration in my room. I just worry it will just start becoming bare, then I just have dead wood for decoration.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:57 AM on October 11, 2018

What a lovely article. I don't think bonsai is for me (I favor the kind of houseplants that get described as "thrives on neglect") but I'm so happy that people like Rustad and Saunders engage in it so I get to enjoy their enjoyment.

Another called him the “Bob Ross of Bonsai,” referring to the host of The Joy of Painting, an art program from the 1980s that was geared toward amateurs.

...and what's wrong with that? Heaven forbid that *gasp* non-experts get involved! Man, I hate gatekeeping like this.
posted by Lexica at 11:09 AM on October 11, 2018

There were so many adorable lines in this article; it makes me want to give it a shot. I currently have an abnormally tiny-leaved basil plant, but I have always wanted a nano cow (enough to produce milk for adding to tea and coffee each day, and would otherwise mill around in a grassy plot on your desk), and, well, a tiny tree seems more realistic.

I kind of wish I'd stopped reading at the happy parts and not heard about the 800-year-old bonsai dying of unknown causes during travel, or that people will steal bonsai, or the mean YouTube commenters.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:20 PM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

That was really interesting, thanks! (I'm lucky if I can keep my succulents and pothos alive.)

If you're visiting the SF Bay area, there's a Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland. I just tweeted some photos from a visit there:

Redwood ; Maple forest; Pomegranate; 150-year-old Daimyo oak
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:38 PM on October 11, 2018

Neat! I love the Lake Merritt Bonsai garden. The National Arboretum also has a lovely collection of Bonsai.

Me, I do bonchi, which started largely by accident but has greatly been helped by the site linked.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

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