I may get a purple thumb from Raynaud’s, but I no longer feel resigned to a purple thumb for plants. At least, as far as my year-old bonsai is concerned. My little Brazilian rain tree grew so lush over the past year that it needed quite a haircut this weekend, when I went back to the bonsai garden for a lesson in pruning.
This involved a bit of serendipity, or “going with the flow” or just trusting that things would work out. I had signed up for a class that I thought was about pruning, but actually was intended as a workshop for a specific bonsai technique called candling, which involves trimming away new growth on certain bonsai pine species. As it turned out, however, I was not the only one who misunderstood the workshop description, because two of the other students who came also had tropical trees, and the fourth person had the wrong species of pine.
No matter. Our teacher was very flexible and turned the session into a learning opportunity for each of us to do the pruning that our bonsai needed. Since I got there first, he was able to help me reshape my Brazilian rain tree to reveal more of the trunk and also to remove the wiring that we’d used to train it last summer. In fact, the tree had grown so much that the wiring was starting to bite into the trunk, so my timing was good.
And I was also able to accomplish my second goal—starting a new bonsai. I had hoped I could do this without signing up for a separate beginner’s class, and timing was, again, just right. For months I’ve been wanting to have an evergreen bonsai, a juniper, and I found the perfect little tree, with a beautiful recumbent swoop, and an aqua pot, just as I had imagined. With my teacher’s help (I can’t do some of the twisting and tightening of wires that’s required for anchoring the bonsai once its roots are revealed) I potted my new little beauty.
Now both bonsai are enjoying fresh air on the deck, near the hummingbird feeder that awaits a visitor and the bird feeder beyond the kitchen window that is filled with safflower seed—a favorite of cardinals, chickadees, house finches, house sparrows, and especially mourning doves, which are just beautiful to see up close. Squirrels, however, are not fans, which was my hope. No more jumping on the “squirrel-proof” feeder to spill sunflower seeds all over the ground.
Watching the birds and my bonsai is a true source of fascination and calm. Whatever craziness dominates the news soon dissipates as I sit down at the kitchen table and look out the window, or quietly sit on the deck and make myself part of the scenery, so the birds come to visit. We all need a personal oasis these days. I’m grateful to have found mine right in our backyard.