Bonsai and Botany – A Calm Mind in a Tumultuous Time
This has been an extremely stressful week financially and emotionally. The wife and I will be leaving the country in a few days for a missions trip in El Salvador. While there we will be participating in a free medical clinic, feeding the homeless, and offering supplies to school aged children among other things. But the trip has been financially draining this year. The wife is concerned about next month’s bills, and how we are going to make it. The obvious answer is to not go on the trip; however, this is something we are both deeply passionate about. So, the stress level is on the rise!
Today, I will be writing about one of the ways I like to de-stress.
Many people don’t know this about me because I am a techy nerd, but I really enjoy seeing the outdoors. I’m not an outdoorsy kind of person, but I do deeply enjoy the sights, and could hang out in nature all day listening to the birds sing and the clouds go by… with my cell phone close by of course.
Because of this, I have taken an amateurish love for both the art of Bonsai and Botany.
Bonsai – A love, and a Heartache
Bonsai, unlike most people think, is not a small evergreen tree like on the Karate Kid, but it is the art of making any tree miniature living in a potted lifestyle. There’s a little more to it than that.
I started off as a complete beginner by finding a few trees at our local Walmart. Their species varied, but they were all labled simply as Bonsai – Indoor plant. I brought home three species. As a habitual study by nature, I automatically began setting out to find out what these plants actually were. After a month of the trees sitting on my desk, I stumbled upon a site called Reddit with a Bonsai group.
I learned quickly that I was not as smart as I thought.
The bonsai needed to be outdoors. Tip #1: There’s no such thing as an indoor tree. They struggle, and will not thrive as they should. If they are of the temperate variety, they will die within three years due to fatigue.
My first bonsai species were the Fukien Tea, Juniper, and Ficus. The Ficus and Tea are both tropical species. They require extensive care to keep the humidy up. Winter makes that care even more extensive. They are not allowed to drop below 60 degrees F. I brought them inside under a plant lamp to survive the winter.
After surviving the whole winter, I brought them both outside in the spring. I got sick, and was unable to care for them the way I should. One tree got frost bite over night, and the surviving tree was stolen off my porch.
You may say they were just plants, but until you have experienced the work that goes into keeping the trees healthy, you won’t understand why I was upset. I had maintained them for an entire year as my primary hobby, until a moment of weakness and an unkind person set me back to square one.
To date now, I have 2 maple trees, my original juniper, an elm, a replacement Fukien Tea and an azalea. The tea is my only tropical. The others can be left out all winter long making care a bit more easy on me. I do miss the ficus as it had some interesting habits, but I couldn’t stomach another struggle to end in tragedy.
Botany – But Not Really
Okay, maybe my new interest in botany doesn’t go deep into the roots of the science. I don’t study the habits and anatomy of plants. I just own a lot.
I have a very dear friend who understands that I enjoy plants, and occasionally surprises me with interesting varieties. I have cacti, mosses, flowers, bushes, and vines all over my yard and house. My front porch looks like Poison Ivy set up her evil layer.
My family members do not share my love for plants. Especially my oldest daughter. Simply put, not all my plants can survive cold weather, and her room is the only one that has a lot of sunlight. See her issue? When winter comes, her room gets very decorated. But alas, I pay the rent, and she does not.
I’m not the best with succulents except my cacti. I always rot their roots. I understand that they can’t be watered but once every few weeks, but I haven’t found the right soil mixture for them that won’t cause them to mold.
My largest plant at the moment started as a 3 leaf high store cactus that came from my friend. It has grown so fast under my care that I’ve had to prune it twice. I replant the pruned leaves. What started as a straight stalk, short cactus now is three separate plants (in one pot) two of which are tall, and branched off to fill out nicely.
Nature is Beautiful
There is something calming about being around my plants knowing that God and I worked together to develop them to what they are today. I know it’s the same thing as my children, but the plants don’t talk back.
Every day, I’m amazed by how they’ve grown overnight. I’ve attributed childlike emotions to them. If it’s too hot, or they’re too dry, I call them sad or unwell. However, after a little care, I see them begin to stand upright, and look strong. Maybe I’m too much of a romantic, but it’s who I am.
Laying in the grass watching the wind blow through the trees while trying to find shapes in the clouds is a good use for the day. It’s just a moment of silence to reflect. Selah