The Bonz, aye!!

Every man of any substance must embark on a journey in his life, to test the essence of his manhood and in return his is the world- Katsu

Mike Chamberlain's illustration steez

Mike Chamberlain's illustration steez

'A tad overdramatic' some may say, 'on the money' others would say. I have embarked on a journey that will test every fibre of my being. Tane Mahuta and I are on the mad collaboration missions with our bonsai training. It is only fitting that it would be the Kowhai tree that is blessed and in turn has blessed me with this opportunity. It is through the Kowhai that the Tui and I can further our relationship despite me shooing that fool away from munching those tiny buds or wrecking the delicate leaves he aims to perch on. Bonsai trees or 'tiny trees' as they are far less commonly known, are the focus of my life-testing journey.


“Aim higher cuz” I can almost hear you guys saying. But take a moment. Imagine a tiny as Kowhai in your whare and maybe a land spirit (weta) just gallavanting and traversing the tiny world, trying to figure out the meaning of life. And then tiny warriors coming and slaying the land spirit for its nutrients or better yet break the beast and ride him into the miniature sunset. Creating a bonsai may not be the life-testing journey of my existence but at any rate it will be one of the many tests this world has to offer and I don't intend to take its challenges lightly. If you choose to join me on this mission (you fully should, and send some photos if you do make one) then nor should you.

On a serious note there seem to be several key areas in the bonsai creation/upkeep dimension. Growing and cultivating as a start up step, training and styling to follow up, and finally care and maintenance. We won't be covering all of these steps here since I want to leave some for when I actually reach that step which, ha, to be fair may take years, but nothing worth doing comes easy, right.

For those that don't know 'Bonsai' is a traditional Japanese style of tree cultivation that grows ornamental trees that are dwarved versions of full sized trees. They are quite dazzling. Check this. I can't claim this as my own haha but this is the end goal.

The idea is to have an actual adult tree, but you low key deprive the roots in the most respectable way possible to artificially reduce the full grown size. There are three ways to begin the process. Some are more cheating than others. You could buy a pre-made bonsai and skip the 'grow and cultivation' step which imo is the most cheating but of course still acceptable cause we're not all hardcore gardeners. Secondly (and this approach I've taken) you buy a young plant and begin the process there. For the hardouts who I'm also guessing know what they're doing, (and as a result will most likely end up with the most desired outcome) start from seed. The huge drawback with this method that I see, is that it takes circa two years to grow from seed before you can start step 2 but if you're game then good luck.

Here is my tree as it is. I realise it doesn't look anything like the one pictured above but it is very early stages. The plan from here is to re-pot into a specially designed pot and to trim the roots and wire the plant into the desired shape. I'll fill you guys in when the Bei has grown a little bit. The whole point is that it's a small tree that grows as an adult rather than a small plant. That's the metric. The steps taken so far: 1) Bought her from Taupo nursery. 2) Made my own soil which has a ratio of 65% propogated sand, 25% acidic compost and 10% gravel. The reasons for the current make up are to balance water retention to ideal conditions, to encourage aeration and air/water absorption. Huang Se (my girl's name) has weathered some hearty Wellington winds and is in the process of surviving a replant. He's currently adapting to his new home and only after he's established strong roots will he be ready for some shaping challenges. The plan is to work from the bottom up. To strengthen his roots or Nebari as the Japanese call it. Then focus on the trunk before working on the branches and leaves.



Luke EganComment