It can be easy to get the impression that bonsai is all glamorous if you’re reading lots of magazines and trolling the internet for good bonsai blogs. There’s a lot of excitement in seeing the styling of good material, or even the long term progress on trees.
Perhaps it’s important to take a moment to think about the mundane parts of bonsai. It’s not every day that the typical bonsai enthusiast does a new styling of a wonderful collected yamadori. Nor is it every day that someone finishes a five year remodel of a tree. The things that do happen everyday are much more mundane, but in some ways they are even more important than the styling events.
Bonsai rests on the foundation of good horticulture. I tell people that if you can’t make your trees grow well, then you can’t make bonsai. When the tree grows you respond by removing the extraneous parts and keeping the usable ones. It’s the growth of the plant that is more important than any other aspect. When you’re heading toward a goal and hoping to accomplish it before a certain time – say an annual show or a larger event, it can be tempting to cut corners and try to force a tree to be what you want it to be. But, the result of this over reach is more often than not a step backward rather than a step forward.