Gardening with kids can be an amazing learning adventure. Today’s guest writer, Lisa Lewis shares with us today, not only how she has taken a gardening class with her daughter on the art of bonsai, but how to make cultural and family connections with family and friends. Sharing the love and excitement for gardening is truly a gift.
The Art and Science of Bonsai Gardening with Kids
By Lisa Lewis
My daughter, Sydney, and I both love trees. In 2010, my good friend, Lori, gifted me with a tree and the tools necessary to put together my very own bonsai. I was hooked!
Sydney and I later attended a bonsai class at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. What an educational experience!
Bonsai describes any tree that is placed in a pot. But bonsai are much more than that. Bonsai growing is an art. Bonsai are thought to have originated in China and there are called penjing. The practice was brought to Japan and became very famous using the term “bonsai” which is used today worldwide. The focus of bonsai is a grand effort on the part of the bonsai enthusiast to make the tree into an art form, for the pleasure of viewing.
Typically the bonsai tree starts with a seed, or a small trim from a tree that is then propagated. Many types of trees work, but some are more popular than others because of their appearance. Here are a few we propagated two years ago. (See above)
The pot, care of the tree, and lack of root growth causes the tree to stay miniature. The tree cannot outgrow its pot. So, a bonsai tree is a normal tree that is trained to grow small.
Bonsai Gardening with Kids: What is a Bonsai
A bonsai tree is a normal tree that is trained to grow small.
Many people want to have a pretty bonsai on their kitchen table, but actually this is a real tree and it must be kept outside mostly in the spring and summer. It is okay to enjoy your bonsai for a day or two inside, but it must go outside during the growing months.
The winter months require most bonsai to come inside, since they are fragile and the roots can freeze easily.
Sydney and I grow wisteria bonsai. We chose this tree because my mother grew up in Austin, Texas, in an area where wisteria grows. We bought small wisteria plants and grew them into a bonsai. This is our third year with our wisteria, and I wonder if the tree is at its final height.
The wisteria tree needs a lot of water, and prefers to hide under the other trees, so we place the wisteria tucked under our Cedar of Lebanon tree.
Getting Started with Bonsai Gardening with Kids!
How can you enjoy growing bonsai? For a younger child, I recommend a pre-potted tree that they learn to care for and shape on their own. Pre-teens and teens would enjoy a class or bonsai expert to educate them about these lovely miniature trees. A good book, such as Bonsai Basics by Colin Lewis, will help you understand your tree and get started enjoying the art and science of bonsai gardening!
- Start with a pre-potted tree.
- Take a bonsai growing class.
- Visit a botanical garden with bonsai trees.
- Read a book about growing bonsai.
Lisa Lewis, MD has an interest in medical and parenting philosophies of other countries. Dr. Lewis’s writings currently involve helping families and children enjoy cultured, healthy futures.
Books for Bonsai Gardening with Kids
Connect your bonsai gardening adventures with a good book, The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: A Little Bonsai with a Big Story.
This true story of dedication and compassion towards living things tells the story of one bonsai tree as it spans generations of care-takers. It was a gift between continents as a symbol of peace. It is a story that will touch the hearts of all readers. Geared for ages 8+.
*Please note, this book addresses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
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