Monday, October 17, 2011


Honestly, we were just looking for a bit of that Bonsai wire, as Graham has been talking about making my Rosemay bush into a Bonsai for about a year. It's been in a pot and calling to him.

I saw some such advertisement for a Bonsai shop up Mount Wellington way, so we headed out on Saturday, rolling it in with a stop at the Bush Bakery. (Yum!!)

The place we thought it was... it wasn't. However the manager called the fellow who owned it, (it was a new place down the road) so a phone call later and the shop owner arrived, opened his shop and we started to wander. The shop is only open 1 weekend a month, and it had been last weekend, however, as luck would have it, there was a bonsai workshop on Sunday, if we wanted to come there were 2 spots available.

Poor Elwood, Thursday, Graham boot camp day - Graham was away in Melaluca for work. Friday when at least I should have been around - I was at work to give a little presentation and attend a retirement farewell at noon. Sunday wasn't looking good weather wise, and his training ground would have been swamp land so the course was a good option for me, not so good for Elwood.

Graham had already decided to do a little landscape in Herbs, so we popped into the local plant spot, picked up some interesting herbs on Saturday on the way home, and Sunday arrived ready to be creative.

This is supposed to be a Zen like experience, much like a mediation. You visualise what you want your Bonsai to be like and make it happen.

Graham was positively in his element, with happiness and creativity radiating from his pours like the sun breaking through on a cloudy day.

Originally when I decided I would go, I thought I would do a little landscape with a couple of rocks, some gravel and a bit of moss and maybe a little grass, but after watching the instuctor I was inspired to do a plant.

He took a plant like this

And with apparent ease turned it into this...
I wandered out to the plant area and it started. I could feel my hair rising, my shoulders tighten and my stress levels rise and all I was doing at that point was trying to pick a plant!  In Tasmanian style, the weather had turned from the cool and sunny morning which we arrived in, to pelting near freezing rain. All this in the time it took the instructor to give us the run down on the history and the 'therory'.  PJ, a fellow I used to work with was at the course, and we were the only 2 to linger in the pouring freezing rain trying to decide which plant "spoke" to us. With hands so frozen I could barely hold the pot, I made my final selection. A plant so twisty and turney that it intrigued me. I was torn between the fantastically textured trunks of the Bull Pine, the bulbous bottoms of the Banskia, and the interesting look of the Billy Pine, but ended up with a prostrate Tasmanian Wattle.
My twisty turney plant

After running my hands under hot water, and cuddling a hot cup of coffee, I took my miniature rake and chipped away at the dirt "looking for the roots"as instructed.  As it turns out, my plant didn't have any hidden twisted gems of roots, so  it was time to start cutting and shaping.

The instructor's plant had 'little gems of roots" just under the dirt.

I looked around the room at the happy hum of creativity reverberating around me. One woman was on her second bonsai for Goodness sake. Smiles and satisfied nodds were everywhere, and I was standing there shuffling from foot to foot, unsure where to start trimming.

Does this look relaxed?

Finally I picked a branch, moved my cutters to the join, turned my head and snipped. I looked back, ready to feel inspired, but it didn't look much different to me.  My strategy became clip and look, clip and look and soon I was wondering if I'd have a huge pile of off cuts, and only a naked twig left starkly standing in my pot.
I must have looked as unsure as I felt as the instructor took me outside for inspiration. I went outside about 3 times during my clipping.

Graham was contentedly working away on his own landscape - it was fantastic, and I looked on at his miniature wonderland, fully expecting a tiny deer or elves to wander out from behind a rock.  See Graham's project evolve....

The beginning - obviously a vision there....
A man happily at work

I look on in wonder....
My eyes moved around the room. PJ had confidently taken a huge tree and snipped it into a fantastic Zen like shape. All around the room amazing Bonsai's were appearing with apparent ease! Why was I the only one sweating??

My next job was selecting a pot.  Tall to accomodate the hanging branches?  Or long to accomodate the branches I extending out sideways? Decorated, or plain? For Goodness Sakes - I'm a LIBRA - I don't do decisions well.  However, after much to'ing and fro'ing and agonising - I went rectangular, plain and low, and worked in a little bit of landscaping. My tree placed as if it was on a hill, some artfully placed rocks to look like bolders, a bit of mossy lawn, then I went all out and put in a tiny path of flat rocks winding down the hill.....

In the end, my plant did slowly reveal it's gentle curves to me.

I wired up a few branches to keep the genly curves, and this is what I ended up with.

My piece at home.
It was surprsing to me how differnt and fantastic the different bonsai's of the day were, but one thing was clear, there is a hidden artist in all of us.

Graham's piece at home.