Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Time, what is it good for?

It's all around us but we never have enough of it. Time, the first and most important lesson in bonsai. Some people do talk about time and patience. However, time is the common denominator in all bonsai. Time is the most important ingredient in making a bonsai. Do what we do to speed things up we can not make a plant grow two seasons worth of growth in one season.
My wife (I apologize for using you as an example) loves bonsai. If she did not I would have to find another hobby. Whenever we bought plants she would want to pot those plants right away. There would be no growth, no refinement. I understand what she was doing. I am guilty of doing it too. However, I came to realize that by potting plants before they were developed somewhat I was stunting their growth. Now, it would take even longer to have a bonsai with some refinement.

Juniperus californica
California Juniper, It's probably more than a hundred years old
If you want to become a master at anything you have to dedicate time to it. You have to sacrifice countless hours training your muscles and mind to do what you want them to do. There is a dichotomy with bonsai. A bonsai has to be worked on and manipulated. There is pruning, wiring, and fertilizing. We have to apply our time to develop the tree. Then there's the part where you give the tree time to grow. The tree has to grow new branches, new leaves, and more roots. That part also takes time. Not doing anything and letting the plant just grow might be the hardest thing for a neophyte bonsaiphile. Although, some trees don't need as much time as others. Then there is the time of rest. That time there is no growth.

I submit to you that the only way to master time is to subjugate to it. In other words, understand that time is not something that we can control. We can not rush time. We can not make a tree grow faster than it does. When we accept that, then and only then can we begin to develop all the other skills needed for growing bonsai.

I was once asked how a trunk could be thickened. The short answer is time. Cheers.