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My Bonsai

My bonsai won't win any awards; I doubt it will ever make it into any sort of bonsai show. I am not sure it would be classifies as a real bonsai!

But maybe it is. I have treated it as a bonsai, sort-of. I think I will call it the lazy gardener bonsai. 

The plant in question is a Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Blue Boulevard.' This is a pyramidal semi-dwarf evergreen shrub that features soft, silvery blue-gray foliage. It is slow growing, and planted in the ground it will eventually reach a mature size of 12-15’ tall. It is easily kept smaller with minimal pruning. When young it has dense growth, but as it matures it has a habit of loosing many of its interior needles, a tendency that turns a lot of gardeners away, but which can give it character perfect for a bonsai treatment. 

I planted my Blue Boulevard in a shallow pot about five years ago with plans to maintain it as a bonsai. The thick, frost-proof pot has a good drainage hole. Each spring I take the plant out and prune the roots so that they fit easily into the pot without crowding. I refresh the soil at this time. One can buy special soil for bonsai, but a good rich mix that will retain moisture but not allow the roots to get too wet is fine. I put some large pebbles in the bottom of my pot and mix some pine bark with the soil to insure good drainage. 

It is important to keep the shallow pot watered but not over-watered. I stick my finger down into the soil on a regular basis when I am making my rounds of the garden. If it feels dry, I water it well. I apply fish emulsion fertilizer two or three times during the growing season. The plant stays outside year-round and is remarkably low-maintenance.

But artistically I have failed. Most bonsai enthusiasts spend a lot of time training and pruning their little trees to mimic larger trees.I have allowed my Blue Boulevard to do its own thing with only occasional pruning and certainly no wiring of branches to shape. I realize I should do better. In fact, looking at the photo I took for this post, I see branches that need pruning, others that could use a bit of wiring to pull them into a more pleasing shape. 

I have been negligent, but next spring I am going to start a new regimen! Bonsai can be a fabulous hobby, and there are on-line instructions and books for those who want guidelines for creating truly wonderful specimens. One can choose a real tree such as an oak or maple, or one can choose a shrub such as an azalea or a juniper, whose thicker trunks can give the illusion of age while still young.  

But one does not have to get caught up in rules and regulations, unless one wants to. The main thing is to have fun with it, and put your specimen where you can enjoy it. Remember outdoor trees should stay outdoors, though you may have to protect them from freezing in winter. Indoor specimens should stay inside. 



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Reader Comments (14)

I like it! I agree--one does not need to get caught up in rules and regulations! My situation is a little different: I must bring in potted trees during the brutal cold months here. We have a lemon tree that stays outside during the summer and inside during the winter. This summer, I potted a tiny Buckeye sapling, and now I'm trying to figure out if I should store it in the garage or plant it in the ground. Hmmmmm.... Any advice?

September 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I've always admired bonsai specimens and actually bought several of my friends bonsai trees for Christmas one year (which was foolish as none of them have a gardening addiction and I suspect all those trees are dead by now although no one has fessed up and I haven't checked). Wiring the stems seems a bit like plant torture to me, though - I'm not sure I'm up to it.

September 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Dear Deb, I admire you trying your hands on creating your own bonsai! For myself I have always find this technique to intimidating and challenging to even dare to experiment with it. I like your specimen and as you said, the most important thing is to have fun with it!
Wishing you a great week!

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

Beautiful container Debbie! I've always wanted to try one of these. Any suggestions on what type of soil to use in these containers?

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBren

It's a winner in my book Deb!!!

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentereve

There are no failures in the garden, only lessons; big lessons, and smaller lessons. I love the look you created and I really appreciated the information you passed along, I am always looking to try new things.. Enjoy your week Deb.

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

I have a few bonsai pots.
Waiting for inspiration and a volunteer to arrive together.

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Well done Deb, I keep finding seedling trees in the garden here and wonder what to do with them. Usually they are just potted up and given away, but you have planted a seed!

September 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

It looks good to me. It's a hobby, after all, so do what pleases you.

September 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjason

I also appreciate bonsai, but cannot make them because i am not staying at my home. I just visited my bonsai friend before she leaves for the US, and she has lots of bonsais left here. She is now retired and plans to stay here for good. One of her works in the US was as a bonsai expert.

September 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Bravo! I have no desire to become even a Lazy Bonsai Gardener. We do have a bonsai club in my city, though.

October 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Hey. Found you when I was looking for information on a Weeping Yaupon Holly in my yard. I am over in Moody (Al.) It's nice to find someone else in my area. Our tree was planted in 2000 or 2001. The tree in our yard is one of my mom's favorites. I love the whitish bark on it.

October 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Milholland

Like you, I also have lazy gardener bonsai. I love your bonsai pot. The main reason I keep bonsai is because I like the pots and I can't bear to throw away seedlings.

October 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Love your bonsai. I don't know about the rules of bonsai but your tree looks like a giant tree but it's little. Success!

November 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim

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