Zen gardens and bonsai are always a big favourite. Bonsai trees, in particular, have the ability to bring one into a zen-like state with just a gaze. As Mr. Miyagi knows, they go great in any zen garden, as they bring a peaceful vibe into the surrounding landscape. Cultivation of bonsai trees is a long and delicate process that can yield the most stunning trees.
Years of study and practice are required to be successful in the creation of such masterpieces. Nathan Anderson of Nate’s Nursery in Apple Valley, California has chosen 5 of the most magnificent bonsai trees:
1. The Foemina Juniper Tree
This Foemina Juniper tree planting, given the name Goshin (Protector of the Spirits), was created and developed by John Y. Naka. This planting has been in development since 1953. It was inspired by a grove of trees near a shrine in Japan. Very zen garden!
It was originally displayed with 7 trees for John’s 7 grandchildren, but later updated to 11 trees to match his 11 grandchildren. One of the first things you notice when viewing this tree is that the apex of the tree is bare and has no foliage. While viewing this and pondering on the name of this composition, I can’t help but see the apexes, as the tree reaching into the heavens for protection.
2. Windswept Tree
This bonsai is unique, due to the branches being wired to show a dramatic windswept look. It gives the effect that the wind has slowly bent all branches back as it has developed.
One thing that makes this so dramatic is the lengthy growth on the left and the contrasting short bent branching on the right. This requires premier placement of branches through wiring to bring both realism and beauty to the tree silhouette. Notice how the tree still retains its overall rectangular shape which helps to make this bonsai look like a full grown tree.
3. Californian Juniper
This California Juniper was collected in 1968 and trained by Harry Hirao. This bonsai has a radical curving trunk that is almost unseen in bonsai. This semi-cascade styled juniper has a reverse taper in the trunk, which is typically avoided in bonsai, that serves as the main attraction on this tree.
I love the way the foliage was used to cover a portion of the bark that didn’t seem to flow with the wild arching trunk. While not maintaining the “normal” growing directions or habits, this tree still shows a typical triangular shape. This would take pride of place in your zen garden.
4. Kiohime Maple
This tree was purchased and has been trained by Walter Pall since 1993. The strong trunk of this tree holds a magnificent structure. This tree is much larger than perceived too, you can see in this picture with Walter.
The pot that holds this beauty has been in place since 1998 and provides spectacular colour contrast in the summer, gorgeous colour blend in autumn, and a similar hue of tan with the bark in winter. In the winter photo, you can see how the branch placement and amazing refinement of this tree are able to present a wonderful round shape of the tree. This species has problems with branching being weak, which adds to the difficulty in producing such a specimen.
The nebari, or surface roots, are so realistic and show age in the tree at the base. This deciduous tree looks great all year, despite its leaves being gone in the winter.
5. Ficus retusa
This Ficus retusa is styled as a Banyan tree. Banyan trees are known for aerial roots that commonly overtake the tree to make the trunk indistinguishable. Aerial roots need high amounts of humidity to be produced, or can be taken from roots and grafted onto the branches.
The rounded top and wide arching branches are characteristic of larger banyan trees that are displayed fantastically by this tree. The wonderful use of aerial roots connecting to the trunk and branches makes this bonsai stand out from the rest.
These are only a few of the magnificent bonsai trees out there. I hope we’ve been able to pique your interest in the wonderful hobby of bonsai tree cultivation and that you’ll choose to create your own zen garden. If you’re interested in cultivating bonsai I suggest you begin by purchasing a tree from a store or nursery with a year guarantee, and try keeping it alive before purchasing a more expensive bonsai tree!
Visit Nathan’s blog for more information and detail, click here.
Find out about another, very different, Japanese garden style here.