Bonsai Notes

Warm enough today to take the pine & the juniper off the front porch & put them outside. It will be great if we get the rain that's predicted. Bonsai love rainwater. This is the time of the year when we humans have to slosh through rain sitting on top of snow; the hardy bonsai begin to emerge from dormancy now, however. On the enclosed front porch over the winter they stay around the freezing point & they get water only every four to five weeks. As the days get longer & the temperatures warm, their soil unfreezes & they need to be watered weekly. In another three or four weeks I will begin to see bits of new growth on these trees. The indoor trees all seem to have survived the winter, but it will be at least another six weeks before they begin spending time outside and even then it will only be during the day. By early summer they will have all moved outdoors to various places in the yard where light conditions are right. I take a disinterested pleasure in my dozen or so trees. I'm not competitive about them, though I want them to do well & look good. I think I've written before that Carole calls them my "plant pets." I trim them all regularly & the process of trimming & shaping makes me intimately familiar with each tree's shape & tendencies of growth. After trimming one of the two romemary trees, my hands smell of the herb. It's that close familiarity that allows me to make decisions about pruning & wiring branches to give a tree a particular shape. My aesthetic is fairly naturalistic. There is in fact a style of bonsai called "informal upright" that strives for a "natural" shape. I do have one tree I'm shaping into a variation of the "literati" style, though. It's a little Picea abies. I'm a poet, after all -- I need one tree in this poetic style. (Beautiful photos of the various styles here.)

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

3 thoughts on “Bonsai Notes”

  1. Today I noticed Sharp Sand while I was searching for what blogs are – swedish finn blogs, the heritage group as a blog makes me curious. I have read only this first entry, about spring vacation and plants and must write a comment…I read poems last month at First Lutheran Church for the arts section of the 125th anniversary, at firstlutherantacoma, and I have work at Salt River Review. My computer opportunity is at the public library. Laura Jensen

  2. Laura, great to hear from you. You’re always welcome here.

    Note: Laura Jensen is a fine poet & old classmate from way back when.

  3. This must be a posting designed to catch the eye of old classmates. I enjoyed the pictures of the 12 styles of bonsai — thanks for sharing the link.

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