Teaching is Learning!

Today I went to a local junior high school to help a teacher with a bonsai program. There were 9 young eager students with their junipers and elms. I walked around and asked each child how they were going to style their tree? I always tell adults to let the tree tell you what style to make the tree into. However, today I decided to let the kids tell me what they thought. They each came up with styles that they wanted for their trees. Many chose to do their trees into informal uprights, a couple wanted to do cascades and a few others decided on windswept. A few of the trees presented a challenge to do into a windswept because the branches were all over the place. As we worked on the trees, the kids were excited about their choices and were really involved in the process. The trees turned out quite nicely and better than I had expected. What I learned today after years of teaching bonsai is that it would be much easier to do the tree in the style that the tree dictates. However, if the person is involved in deciding the style, no matter how challenging, they will be more involved with the tree. Their excitement is infectious and they will get more out of the experience and will more likely be involved with continuing with bonsai. Today the students were the teachers. George

Spring is in the air!

Today was a day to look around the nursery to enjoy all the new growth that is pushing on the trees. As I walked around, I noticed that the field grown trees look happy. The trident maples are showing off their leaves and the junipers have the pale green tips of new growth. I decided to dig out some junipers to see what was hiding behind the full green foliage. The flare on the trees surprised me. They were a lot bigger than I expected. I dug out about half a dozen trees and put them into bulb pans. I watered them well and put them on the turntable. Then I proceeded to take all the foliage that was hanging down and cut them off. This allows me to be able to see the branching that remains. Many had very nice movement. I cut the larger branches that were not necessary and opened up the trees. Some of the branches that were not needed were made into jins. I cut off the larger branches and just kept the smaller growth to work with. After I was done, I stood back and looked at the trees. I smiled at the possibilities awaiting as the trees fill in. Sunshine, some trees to work on and fresh air. What more could a person want. I have a great job!