As I said, blame my sister for my bonsai addiction.☺ Even tho neither she nor I realized that the "bonsai kit" she sent me wasn't quite what the seller implied, my interest was still thoroughly piqued. After a year of reading whatever I could get my hands on, I took the plunge and bought my first tree. That was the start of what has become a very enjoyable journey.
I've been actively involved in bonsai for most of the last 22 years. A little over 10 years ago, I married and acquired an "instant family." Bonsai (and some other things) went "on hold" for several years as I learned to be a husband and father. Five or six years ago, give or take, I felt free to start putting some time into bonsai once again.
A number of trees had died during the interval, including some old favorites. With my wife's support, I began rebuilding my collection. And I found myself approaching the rebuilding with a wiser perspective. Gone were the days of buying anything woody that had some feature that caught my eye. (All too often, that one feature was the only bonsai-worthy thing about it.) Partly -- I'd like to think -- because of greater maturity, partly because I'd become aware that this life has a finish line, I became more careful and intentional in choosing new trees. David DeGroot's book, Basic Bonsai Design, has been very educational for me, both in regard to design, and in regard to what I look for when shopping for new material. I recommend it without reservation.
Within the last couple of years, I've had the benefit of regular input from several other bonsaiists far more experienced than I; this was particularly true when the "Study Groups" were active on Bonsai Vault forum. Tho it's been blunt at times, this feedback has been very helpful. I've realized that many of my early intended-for-bonsai purchases, while they gave me great enjoyment at the time, would never have been more than mediocre as bonsai. Some survivors from my early days have gone to new homes. Others have been redesigned and reworked, sometimes extensively. I'm not in such a hurry now to get a tree on display. I'm much more ready to put in whatever time and work are needed to bring out the best in each tree, to the extent that I'm able.
I like many species, but am particularly partial to pines, yews, and wild figs (Ficus species.) I grew up near the equator, and now live in Indiana. Keeping tropicals, for me, is a must: I need some green around during the winter months if I am to be fit to live with!
I've learned that the creation process is what I like best in bonsai: choosing the best design I can for a tree, and then making it a reality in the years that follow. (Buying finished trees has never worked for me: I quickly lose interest in them.) But I'm also a plantsman: I just like the world of green and growing things! Bonsai is also, for me as for many others, a vehicle for appreciation of nature. Belief in a Creator just adds another layer to the enjoyment: bonsai becomes a vehicle for appreciation of His artwork as well.
And bonsai had a significant impact on my life in another (and totally unexpected) way: I met my wife when she stopped to watch me in a bonsai demonstration! We have a beautiful daughter together, as well as five other wonderful daughters from my wife's first marriage. And I'm now getting used to being "Grandpa Steve" to Oliver Harold Embry. If he wants to learn bonsai when he gets a little older, I'll be ready to teach him!
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Steve Moore; December 17, 2011.
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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.
"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.