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We have a close friend that had a heart attack. He is not even 60. There is not anything that is more important in life than friends and family. How does this relate to bonsai? Well, the first thing that I thought of was planning. Planning for the future of a plant can include many things. You can plan on the design of the tree. The future shaping and pruning. You can plan on when to transplant the tree. Planning can also include who will take care of the tree if something should happen to you. The other thing that this experience brought to life is to live in the moment. Enjoy the moment for what it is. You may be planning on future pruning or wiring or transplanting, but look at the tree and enjoy what you have now. Take a moment to enjoy the wind blowing through the leaves, the sun shining on your plant, the shadows that are cast by the light. Enjoy the moment now, because we all have a limited number of moments.
We have started to prune some landscape pines. These are pines that were started by my father and sold. The customers did not know what to do, so we prune them once a year. The changes to the tree are incredible. It is like when you haven’t seen your niece or nephew who live in another state. A year in the life of a tree is incredible. One of the trees we pruned was weak and we discovered that the tree had mites, so we suggested to the owner to have it sprayed. The trees we did yesterday were fantastic. They were quite overgrown. The people in the home are new. The previous owners gave them our number. The new owners must love to water their landscape because everything was nice and full. The pines looked fantastic when we were done. At our nursery, we see the same thing every day. We only notice subtle differences in the growth of our trees because we look at them every day. But the changes in viewing other peoples trees bring new perspective. It is nice to see how the trees start to fill in and become nicer and fuller as the year goes by. One of the trees that we prune was started out as a five gallon can and planted by my father and I over thirty five years ago. The first year we planted the tree in the front yard, their next door neighbor commented how ugly and spindly the tree looked. They had asked our friend why he would allow us to plant such and ugly tree in the front yard. As a few years past, the neighbor appologized about the comment and now understood that it takes time for the branches to get full. The tree is now over eleven feet tall and has branches on either side that are over six feet in length. It has phenomenal movement and taper. I would dare say it is one of the finest examples of a Japanese black pine landscape tree in the U.S. We haven’t pruned that tree yet, but I can’t wait to see what a year has brought to the development of the tree.
Today after we watered the trees(aaargggghhhh!), we continued to prune the pines in the field. I am currently working on a line of red pines. We cut all the candles off of the tree and simultaneously thin the tree. Thinning the tree consists of removing unwanted branches and doing some directional pruning to give the tree a desired result. Since we have several thousand pines in the ground, we do not have time to wire the trees until they are dug out. What this is leading me to is that pruning is planning. In life you need to plan. Because if you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. Planning is getting ready for the future. Everything you do today will effect what will happen in the future. Bonsai teaches you to be patient and to live in the moment, but a little planning now will be a great help in the future.
Today I am pruning the field grown Japanese black pines. As I was pruning, I was thinking of pruning and how it relates to life. When you prune, you are cutting back or removing branches and limbs. How does pruning relate to life you may ask? My son called me and said he was dissatisfied with his current job situation. He had put up a web site that had his application online and someone called to interview him. A few days later he was offered a job. He called me for my advice and I told him to weigh all the pros and cons of the new job. After we were done talking, he decided he would take the new position. This relates to pruning beautifully. He is removing an undesirable thing from his life. In a few months new opportunities will spring forward. You can prune to remove deadwood and unwanted limbs or you can prune to create a pleasing design. Either way you are changing something in your life to make it better. I have thousands of pines to prune and I have a lot of time to think. I let you know what the trees teach me next.
I was starting to prune the field grown pines today, I thought about what bonsai teaches us about life. I am sure you have all heard that patience in bonsai is king. Patience is a lot of things. It is not just about waiting for the finished result. Because if that were the only thing about bonsai, we would be waiting indefinitely because a bonsai is never truly finished. I think patience is about anticipation. Patience is about the anticipation of what is to come. If you work on a tree and set it aside, you anticipate that the tree will fill in and that eventually you will have a desired out come. Also I think there are degrees of patience. If you work on a juniper, you would expect to wait longer(be more patient), then if you were working on an elm. If you take these lessons from doing bonsai, you will become more patient and as a result be more patient in life. Things just don’t seem to be pressing or hectic. Life becomes less stressful. I think that is one of the major factors that draw us into bonsai. The peaceful, calming affect that bonsai has on us. It is amazing how the simple things in life are the most important. So be patient…..