Welcome to bonsaiexperiments.com.
This is a blog for me to share the things I’ve learned through years of experimenting with bonsai.
I started doing bonsai around 1995, and am mostly self-taught. I have occasionally studied with professionals, and I do read and consume the works of those at the peak of the field, but I’ve never studied in Japan, I’ve never run a nursery, and I’ve never done this for a living. I’m just a curious individual with an insatiable desire to learn who has incorporated bonsai into his life.
My Bonsai Journey …
Like many people in the US, my first exposure to bonsai was watching The Karate Kid in the 80s. In ’95 I had a job where I drove back and forth past a bonsai shop every day, and it didn’t take me long to pull in. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bonsai has become a pretty deep adventure for me, and I’ve rebooted the hobby multiple times. My initial attempts didn’t get me too far, but I kept at it over the years.
My second big push to learn bonsai was my indoor phase, and that took me from around around 1998 to 2004. I spent that time trying to grow all sorts of trees in an office and in an apartment. I have exactly one tree left from that time period, a ficus. Lesson learned: bonsai works much better as an outdoor activity.
The next reboot happened in 2005 when I finally had my own outdoor growing space. Around the same time, it had occurred to me that despite 10 years of messing around with little trees, I really had no idea how one goes about developing those amazing gnarly trunks. So learning that skill became my new obsession.
So here we are …
This has been the most fruitful phase so far. I’ve built up a decent collection of material since then, one tree at a time. Each year I try some new experiments, and each year I carefully observe the results. At this point, I can safely say that I am a bonsai person, and I can’t imagine a point in the future where I don’t have a collection of little trees to take care of.
My focus on trunk development has taken me pretty far down the rabbit hole, and has significantly deepened my understanding of bonsai. I’ve learned a lot, including things I usually don’t see written down anywhere. This site is my little way of correcting for that. =)
Bonsai is a journey that never really ends, and there’s always something new to learn, and something new to try. Despite having almost 25 years of bonsai experience, each year I look at the trees I’ve got, I see where they’re at, and I see how far they still have to go, and I feel like a beginner all over again.
And I kind of like it that way.
As a side note, I am also one of the moderators on reddit’s /r/bonsai subreddit. If you’re just starting with bonsai, or if you’re looking for a decent bonsai reference, we have a wiki there that has a ton of material, including a walkthrough for beginners.
My reddit handle is -music_maker-. Feel free to PM me there if you want to chat trees or have any specific questions about anything.