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Bonsai Gardening – The Basics

Have you ever heard of Bonsai gardening? If not, then realize that it is an ancient art form that hails directly from Japan. When you think of Bonsai gardening, you may picture an old looking tree. Bonsai gardening, in the Japanese language, means “tray garden.” This type of gardening is done by growing a plant in a small pot or tray, while taking care to frequently prune its branches and roots. By doing this, the plant grows in the shape in which you desire it to grow. If you plan to have a Bonsai plant, be prepared to spend a great deal of time taking care of it.

Bonsai plants are not naturally small. They are trained to achieve this appearance. It is after bonsai training, they appear to be dwarfs. They will range in height from 2 inches to 3.33 feet. There are basically two different types to buy. There are the type, which have been trained already by a genuine bonsai artist, or the untrained starter plant, which possess little or no training. It is important to find out the type of species you have purchased so you can research the care they require regarding watering, pruning and repotting.

The bonsai plant is not an indoor plant. Although it can be brought indoor on occasion, most of its life will be spent outdoors, if it is to survive. It should not be placed in direct sunlight. You should use a potting soil mix or you can buy a pre-made bonsai soil mix. The bonsai plant needs to be watered frequently, since its container is small, and therefore, only has a small water reservoir. It will need more water in dry, hot weather and less in cool, rainy weather. It also requires fertilizer to restock whatever gets washed away during frequent watering. Feedings usually take place in early spring to late summer.

Regular repotting is also necessary with bonsai plants. This will promote its growth and maintain its health. Repotting is best done when the plant is most dormant, usually in early spring or late autumn. Younger plants will require this every two to three years and older ones less often.

Pruning is what will give the bonsai plant its desired look. This should be performed during its growing season. This is done with the fingers, by pinching new growth to develop more bushiness, with scissors by trimming new shoots or with leaf pruning by removing bad looking leaves.

Aluminum wires are used to guide the tree’s branches and trunk in different directions. It is loosely wrapped around the desired part so as to not damage the bark, and then gently bent into shape. Once the tree is trained to grow this way, the wire is removed.

When looking at a bonsai plant, you will see that it is truly a work of art. It has been shaped through years and years of care to accomplish a desired look. Through this time the grower has expended a great deal of patience and care during their plant’s life. The resulting beauty is a true testament of an artist and one that should be admired.

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The Basics of Designing Gardens

Just like the ad says “Just Do It,”; this is exactly the perspective one needs in getting good at garden designs. You can always move plants around your gardens and as your ideas and taste change, your gardens can grow with you. There are some simple elements of garden design. Think of designing your garden with living art in mind being creative and free to try whatever suits your taste. There are no limitations to the creativity that is within, no comparison or fear of failure. Although gardening successfully requires learning certain skills, when all is said and done a garden’s beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Just go for it and let your gardens be the expression of you.

Garden design and its principles used may be called by different names. There are three basic concepts when combined together will bring about good garden design. Ultimately your gardens’ design is up to you and should reflect your own personality and flare.

Order, balance and proportion are the basic structure of the garden. Order is symmetrical through repeating plants or colors. Bold or bright additions bring balance as well as adding some texture. Texture is an important ingredient. Gardens come to life with different textured plants much like the human race. All different but flowing together and being brought together through unity and harmony creating comfort and peace. When all of the parts of the garden are flowing together it is captivating and ones’ spirit is caught up in the beauty.

Using a limited color pattern, repetition of plants and a clear focal point creates this environment. Theme gardens are very soothing: all one color, butterfly gardens or cross gardens keep you flowing in like unity. You’ll also hear a lot of talk about starting your garden with good bones. That basically means creating an outlining foundation, with trees, structures, paths, etc. for the rest of the garden to build off of. Evergreen is a favorite of the good bones.

Having a focal point is a big benefit for every garden. With no focal point the eye starts to wander here and there without every getting a grasp of a main feature. This is not creating the harmony you desire for your gardens or creating any curb appeal.

Beginning gardeners seem to pick the same flowers or foliage over and over again which has no visual interest. Planting an architectural, bold leafed plant, can restore this visual interest instead of the monotony of likeness.

Last, but not least, is adding color to your gardens. Experimenting with your favorite colors is a good way to see what works best for you. The best advice to heed though is to start out with 2-3 colors to keep the artist palette limited. You can always add new colors to your gardens by eyeballing it along the way. This way you keep the living painting flowing in the harmony you wish to relate. You will then have a peaceful retreat that you have created and enable others to share that intimate part of you.

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