Bonsai, the Japanese art form in which woody plants are grown in small containers as representatives of aged or interesting trees, has become a challenging and creative -- yet quiet and satisfying -- hobby for many Americans.

The practice of bonsai culture is marked by a close relationship between the potted tree, the forces of nature and the grower. The grower directs the tree's development while providing water and other needs on a regular basis. The tree in turn grows and changes giving continuing evidence of the cycles and beauties of nature while developing as an expression of what the grower finds pleasing. The process is continuous. Unlike many other art forms, bonsai are never finished.

As with swimming, growing flowers or building sand castles, growing bonsai can be enjoyed on many different levels. One does not have to create masterpieces to take pleasure in both the process and the product.

For people attracted to the bonsai hobby, it is helpful to do some reading first to make progress faster with fewer setbacks. A surprising number of books and periodicals are devoted to the subject and most librarians are very helpful in obtaining material not immediately available in local libraries. The publications listed below are recommended for a well rounded introduction to the subject.

For those seeking more support and stimulation, membership in bonsai societies, local and national, is very worthwhile.


Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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