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Talkback: Bonsai trees

I'm sorry but I just think bonsai is cruel. It's one thing to train a tress from a seedling, but to dig one up and gradually reduce its size by trimming its roots? The amount of time spent butchering these trees could be much better spent actually doing some good, like planting flowers for wildlife.


  • I am highly vexed by the article on Bonsai, it does not explain the art of bonsai in its true form properly and leaves the art open to ill informed prejudice comments like those of Elsie. The art of bonsai is not cruel and many examples of 'naturally occuring' bonsai can be seen in the wild, by keeping a tree in a pot and caring for it as a bonsai, it is kept in peak condition and very far from cruel, would Elsie not prune a privet or a rose bush? I am trained in horticulture and have been a bonsai enthusiast for over a decade now, so I feel I am speaking from a position of strength. Regarding comments of growing wild flowers instead; I grow organic, my bonsai trees are organic, i have a veg patch, my garden is wildlife friendly and full of flowers from borage and blue poppys to alpines, oh and i have a wildlife pond too. So I would suggest that Elsie and gardeners world research a subject properly before making rude and naive comment.
  • Hi Adam. I am sure that you would agree that it is difficult to cover a subject as large as Bonsai in a short blog entry. As I say in the article, I am very keen on Bonsai and very much enjoy my occasional conversations with growers and enthusiasts.

    Elsie is stating a view that is perhaps a bit extreme and anthropomorphic but also one that many people have when first confronted with a Bonsai tree.

    It is not cruel but sometimes can seem a bit weird. However, on closer examination these trees are spectacularly beautiful in their own, idiosyncratic way. One also has to admire the dedication and skill of those gardeners who spend so much time and expend so much care on their creation.

  • I think the art of Bonsai should be shown on Gardeners World so other people can find out what is involved in looking after them. Bonsai are ideal for people who have limited space.
  • i would like to see a segment of gardeners world on Bonsai tree, it is something i am currently reserching with a view to buying one,(hopefully at Tatton park), I am awaiting 2 books on the subject one of which was written by Jon Ardle who i'm led to believe worked at Wisley for the RHS. Adam you sound as if you have enjoyed and been succesful with this form of art. I hope I am as succesful with my attempts.
  • I dug up a douglas fir from the local mountain side and 15 years on, its now in a 10" container. The tree looks superb and is around 17" tall. So, with time and a little effort anyone can do it. I have removed it from its container every winter, trimmed the roots and repotted into a slightly smaller pot. Year on year the tree has shrunk whilst retaining its correct look.
  • I've really gotten into growing these trees, they are great for the garden and house. Anyone looking to grow them in the garden should check this blog post out which talks about protecting your bonsai from the wind
  • gardeningfanticgardeningfantic Posts: 1,019
    i am to keen to start bonsai.. it interests me in teh abilbity to grow something perfect in shape and form yet so small.. i am looking into what sort of tree to start of with.
  • pashpash Posts: 109

    Hi, anyone who grows a tree in a pot, ie an acer, will benefit from a little understanding of bonsai, for that is effectively what you are doing, knowledge gained can always be adapted to ones own gardening style, but answers many question like how and when to re-pot, and prune. At the end of the day its all about the love and care of whatever specimen one chooses to grow, and how, Gardeningfantic have a look at "graham potter" on you tube, some great tutorials and advice,

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