Bonsai : is the art of growing trees and shrubs, reducing their size by pruning and thereby creating a pleasing shape as well as creating an illusion of age. Bonsai means tray gardening and the art originated in China over 200 years ago. Over 700 years ago the art was brought to Japan and this is where modern Bonsai evolved.
The plants are kept small by shaping the branches and pruning the roots. It is said that a well-maintained bonsai will outlive a “normal” tree of the same species.
We are interested in seeing the use of Australian native trees and shrubs as bonsai specimens. Unfortunately bonsai is a time consuming hobby and because of our other obsessions will be content to admire other people’s horticultural masterpieces.
Many Australian natives have been used as bonsai specimens and no doubt there are many more that will lend themselves to this ancient art form.
Banksias, Callitris (Native Cypress Pines) Casuarinas (Sheoaks), Leptospermums (Teatrees) and Melaleucas are some genera that have been used. The image shows a bonsai Banksia integrifolia that we observed at a garden show. Banksia serrata was another specimen that was displayed.
We are sure that some of the Acacias (Wattles) would be suitable, particularly long-lived species such as Acacia melanoxylon, the Blackwood. The Callistemons (Bottlebrushes) and even some of the Eucalypts would be worth trying.
We would be interested to hear from any bonsai enthusiasts that are growing Australian natives.