Steve Gainey, His Journey in the Art of Bonsai
Hi everyone, hope you are staying safe and well and coping in these challenging times. I thought I would share some of my idle musings on my state of mind as a Bonsai enthusiast (its surprising how lock- down affects the mind).
Being in the Merchant Navy I have been an off/on member of the club for about 25 years. During this time I have accumulated 40 trees (and lost a fair few along the way!) and read numerous books, listened to countless lectures and tried to follow the wise words from other collectors. But as you know in the end it’s the “doing” that counts.
And this is where I have to own up and say as far as Bonsai is concerned, I’ve been a wimp!
That doesn’t mean I’ve not split trunks, produced jins, bleached, defoliated, experimented with soil types, fertilisers, air layering, moss seeding, and various other techniques.
When I say wimp, its all about properly pruning and shaping and wiring a tree. I bought my first Bonsai from Chelsea Flower show some 35 years ago (little acer) and that got me hooked. But as with most beginners I was really worried about doing the right thing and above all, not to kill the expensive little thing.
I purchased a few more trees and had a small collection but I still had that mind set to do as little damage as possible. I’ve now realised that this is a dangerous and limiting way to be a Bonsai devotee.
Over the last few years I’ve decided this approach has been handicap and the enjoyment of Bonsai comes with experimentation and taking bold decisions. So, I’ve pruned harder and instead of mulling over if that branch needs to be wired, chopped, removed, I’ve taken the decision (sometimes taking a deep breath). And on the whole my trees have definitely benefited from this less cowardly approach. As long as the tree is healthy it can survive almost anything you throw at it (don’t throw things at your bonsai, that’s silly).
Anyway you get my point, I know bonsai can be expensive to source and I’m not advocating a
gung-ho approach but instead just enjoy the decisions you make, whatever they are. Things can grow back (sort of).
I’ve include a few pictures of my trees. The Hawthorn has been an informal upright, a windswept, a semi cascade and now a cascade!
Stay Safe, regards