Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bonsai Trees

By Christina VanGinkel

Ever since, I watched the Karate Kid back in 1984, starring Pat Morita and Ralph Machio, I have had a longing to own a bonsai tree. What the attraction to these miniature trees is I have never been able to pinpoint, yet I realized that I talked about them so much, that one good friend actually bought me an antique container for one when she came across it during her antique hunting two summers ago. I still have not put a bonsai tree in it, as every time I think about getting one, I remind myself that while I like plants, they do not always like me. While a dead tomato plant is one thing, or even an Aloe Vera, the thought of killing a whole tree, even if it is about as small as any plant comes, would just break my heart. Yet every time I come across gardening sites online, or visit a nursery, the first thing I look to see if they have, is a selection of these fascinating trees in miniature.

Then I discovered the Bonsai Boy of New York site right here at I have sat browsing this site longer than even some of my favorite scrapbook sites. Their catalog, broken down into types of bonsai trees through the following headings:

Juniper Trees
Trees under $30
Flowering Bonsai
Artificial Bonsai
Outdoor Bonsai
Recommended Bonsai
Medium and Large Bonsai
One of a Kind Bonsai

My budget minded part me of course headed directly to the Trees Under $30 category. One of the first trees on the page appealed to me right off. Its appearance when you first look at it, reminds one of a big, old, overgrown tree deep in some forest. The trunk looks all gnarled and twisted, and it gives the impression that it is hundreds of years old. I know it is not, but that is part of the appeal to me, actually most of the appeal. I like old things, and these trees often appear as if they have stepped through the centuries, shrinking in size as they came. A Epiphytic plant, part of the tropical distinction of plants, it requires no soil to grow, which means watering is mainly through the absorption of the humidity in the air, with a small weekly watering to make sure it is consuming enough water. Taking care of itself by it nature, it seems like it would be the ideal plant, bonsai tree or not, for me to have. It would also require bright to subdued indirect light, warmth, and a humid spot. I have a small humidifier, so I wonder if I placed it near that, if that would be enough humidity for it during the dry winter months that are common indoors in our area, due to the furnace running almost constantly with the temperatures outside dropping to well below zero much of the time. The description went on to say that, it was six inches tall, and included a 5" black oval ceramic container, with five of the air plants forming the canopy that gives the plant its miniature tree appearance. It also reads that a suitable 8" x 6" humidity tray is recommended for an additional $3.95. This particular Bonsai Tree is available for $29.95, so with shipping at $10.95, and the recommended humidity tray, the price would be an overall reasonable $45.00. Not too bad for such a whimsical addition to my home, but I wonder if it would be difficult, or even possible, to transfer the plant to the antique bonsai container that my friend gave me.

They had one other tree that was even cheaper, at only $19.95, a small Juniper Tree, that is three years old, and is consistent with what many perceive to be a Bonsai Tree, but for me personally, it just does not have that gnarled old look like the Bonsai Tree Air Plant. I also could not resist checking out the one-of-a-kind category, and there were several there that appealed to me, including several Scot Pines, but with prices in the hundred dollar range and up, I liked them, but still not as much as the first one that caught my eye, the Bonsai Tree Air Plant. I need to do some more research and reading about it, but if they can be transferred easily, and they have a long life expectancy, I think I know what I am going to ask for on my next birthday!

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