Despite my consistently disastrous history with house plants, I’ve always gotten on rather well with bonsai. Maybe it’s because I’m a forestry graduate; they just don’t seem to die on me like all the non-tree-based plants.
Bonsai is the art of growing trees and woody shrubs in such a way that their size and form are carefully controlled and restricted to create a pleasing shape. It has been practised in Japan for over a millennium and was often associated with Zen Buddhism as an aid to tranquillity and contemplation.
It is a relaxing hobby, perfectly suited to sitting down with a cup of tea for a quiet hour. I was recently excited to discover that Camellia sinensis actually makes an excellent bonsai itself as does another of my favourite ‘tea’ plants, Manuka. A tea bonsai seems like it would be an excellent way to combine two of my favourite interests. If I can get knitting and karate in there as well, I’ll have all of my hobbies rolled into one. Perhaps some kind of violent bonsai cosy is in order?
Now, a sensible person would be looking around to see where they can find a pre-grown tea bonsai, but that is not something I could ever be accused of being. So, I’m on the lookout for some seeds. Once they’ve germinated, they will be planted into a special bonsai pot. These are small, shallow trays to restrict the plant’s growing room. Both the roots and shoots will need to be carefully trimmed to persuade the plant into miniature form, and wire frames will have to be constructed to train it into shape. I may even try making my own ridiculously small quantities of tea from the trimmings.
Really, it’s probably a plan that is doomed to failure, but if the plant somehow does manage to survive my ‘care,’ it could certainly outlive me and provide hours of tea-based contemplation for generations to come.
More articles by “our woman in Scotland” Jessica Hodges abound on this blog.
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