On a table at the front of the room were a 24-year-old houseplant and pots and pots of miniature plants, enough to make a small forest. They were examples of plants trained in the art of bonsai (bones-eye), or literally a “tree in a pot.”
Exports of bonsai trees from Japan have increased significantly, 10 times what they were a decade ago as reported last October by Japan Today, a Tokyo-based online newspaper. The biggest buyers are China, Italy and the United States. The simple, classic style appeals to contemporary designers and the small size fits well in many down-sized homes.
On February 16, 2013 the Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension, Franklin County held a workshop on The Art of Japanese Landscaping and Bonsai. Over 20 people attended to hear about growing and training bonsai and the elements of Japanese landscaping in gardens.“I’ve been trying for over 15 years to create a bonsai,” said Tisha Corwell, Chambersburg. The workshop has Corwell ready to “try it again.”
Master Gardener Barbara Petrucci spoke about bonsai, providing information about plant selections, noting that the proportions of the plant and the pot are important. She talked about different styles such as cascading and slanting as well as wiring, re-potting, over-wintering and pruning the plants.
|Barbara Petrucci spoke about the art of bonsai|
On display was Petrucci’s Schefflera (Umbrella) plant which she began training 24 years ago. She took the opportunity to show how to prune on this plant, eliciting a few gasps from the audience as she snipped off very healthy green growths.
|Barbara Petrucci prunes new growth from her Schefflera|
A long-time bonsai enthusiast, Petrucci participated in the workshop hoping to find others interested in establishing an informal bonsai club. “And I wanted to show off my plants,” she laughed.
Gardeners are including elements of Japanese landscape in part because it seeks to capture and celebrate the splendor and variety of the universe in a microcosm, recognizing that everything- plants, people, even inanimate objects like stones and mountains- contain a dynamic, spiritual essence. And each element is symbolic of the whole and a worthy subject of respect and contemplation.
Wrapped in a dragon-embroidered kimono, Master Gardener Sylvia Kremp talked about Japanese inspired landscaping. Her interest grew out of research she did for a program presentation. Kremp said, "The more I researched online the more I was interested" in the elements and symbolism used in this style.
|Sylvia Kremp - Japanese Landscape|
Kremp walked the audience through her home landscape, describing the reasons for placement of certain plants. She described how using Yin and Yang, a Chinese concept describing opposite or contrary forces are really interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, she shaped areas and created focal points.
“I have a Japanese-inspired garden,” said Bonnie Kress, Shippensburg, who came to learn more about this style of gardening. She added that there are non-Japanese elements and agreed that may be more like a Japanese-fusion garden.
“I came primarily for the landscaping,” said Karen Sigler, Mifflintown. She is working to complete a Japanese inspired landscape and has both a weeping cherry tree and Hinoki cypress plants already installed.
|Sylvia Kremp and Barbara Petrucci|
Audience members had an opportunity to look over books on display, exhibit boards with photos from different stages of bonsai plants and some were able to take home a few starter-cuttings from Barbara’s quarter-century Schefflera.
|Barb Petrucci's 24-Year Old Schefflera |
Lebanon County - Amateur Herbalist - Make and Take Bonsai
National Bonsai Foundation
Pennsylvania Bonsai Society
Potomac Bonsai Association
Shofu-So Japanese Garden, Fairmont Park, Philadelphia
Longwood Gardens - Bonsai
U.S. National Arboretum - Bonsai Museum