The mystique of Bonsai is very difficult to dispel. Having been involved in bonsai as a hobbyist and professionally since 2011, I’ve regularly been called upon to try and crack through the public perception as a mystic, secretive and sometimes even cruel practice.
The absolute truth of Bonsai is that it is not mystic at all. Good bonsai practice is in fact a strongly technical form of horticulture combined with a sharp eye for natural aesthetics. As such there is nothing ‘cruel’ about it. Unless you are of the view that pruning rose bushes and keeping potted plants is in-itself immoral, all the objections I’ve encountered have stemmed from misunderstanding and here-say.
And secretive? Please. My friends know that if you start me off on ‘those tiny trees’ it’ll take more than a few rolled eyes and suggestive yawns to stop me, and that’s typical. If you’re into bonsai, it’s a rare practitioner who doesn’t want to share.
So, I present my Idiots Guide to bonsai. If you can’t tell your sekisuki from your literati, or never realised that you could bonsai a good old British Oak, get ready to take your first steps into a smaller world.