What is Bonsai?
Bonsai refers to the growing of trees and shrubs in a small size in order to give the impression of an old fully grown specimen. Maintaining healthy vigour in the plant and managing the cultivation of healthy plants is the cornerstone of the hobby with a huge variety of growth patterns and styles from realistic to abstract art.
From its origins in China and in particular Japan, the methods of bonsai propagation are constantly being updated to suit climates around the world and with the increased sharing of knowledge through societies and events, the hobby is constantly evolving.
Is Bonsai for me? If you like to grow plants then you can get a lot out of learning the art of Bonsai as the in depth knowledge and practical experience can also be translated to the garden or allotment. The hobby appeals to a wide age range from school age to retirement age and although most of the bonsai in this country are grown outdoors, some species of tree will tolerate being grown indoors if you have no garden.
Do I need to be "arty"? Not at all. An interest in trees and/or an appreciation of the natural world is an excellent starting point and joining a local club will allow you to meet and learn from a wide range of experienced members and visiting experts.
Can I learn from a book? Yes, but it's much easier (and more fun) to sit next to an experienced bonsai artist working on a tree and have them explain what they are doing and why. They can also guide and advise you with your own trees and tell you how to care for them in your specific local climate where books can only give you a generalisation.