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Old 03-17-2015, 09:45 PM   #1
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Smile Working on a New Hobby

In the depths of my winter despair with nothing but bad news all around me, my doctor asked me: "What brings you joy?" Maybe it was just the sheer 'overwhelmededness' of the situation but I couldn't come up with an answer to save myt life. The truth was - nothing was bringing me joy, comfort, a sense of purpose or anything positive right then & there. I understood why but it bothered me nevertheless.

A few months on & the massive stressor is gone but it was still a valid question. And I didn't have nearly enough answers. I've discovered fishing. Unless I want to freeze my butt on the open ice, I'm not getting into ice fishing so that's summer stuff. So is my gardening.

I've let photography go this year - no particular reason. It wasn't a huge hobby but I like farting around with the camera & sometimes I get lucky & get a good shot. So, that will be resumed.

Houseplants I like but I lost a few this winter & haven't replaced them yet.

I did come up with an idea in the last 6 weeks or so that I've been exploring. It will allow me to incorporate a number of my current hobbies & interests...

Bonsai!

No, not banzai, BONSAI.

Bonsai is the ancient Japanese art, (derived from an older Chinese art), of miniaturizing full sized trees & shrubs into miniatures. It's a pretty strict art form with some severe rules & recognized styles & it looks like fun. Naturally, some of the oldest & best specimens deliberately break one or more of the 'rules'. It requires patience, a great deal of it & that's a trait I badly need to work on.

I need to stick with plants that grow indoors anyway; I don't dare risk leaving a plant in training outdoors around here - it would walk in about 5 minutes. There are a number of houseplants that adapt well to bonsai.

I'm starting with jade - they have a natural form that lends itself well to bonsai & are pretty forgiving. My SO was given one last summer - a jade plant that was not in the best of shape. I've spent the last 6 weeks 'practicing' wiring & weighing down branches to achieve a better framework for the lovely little house tree he hopes it will become. I promised him I would only shape the bottom framework & NOT bonsai the rest. It's been hard not to, but it's his plant. The necessary trimming provided me with cuttings & leaves I'm trying to root. One has rooted already & I'm simply giving it time to establish a decent root system. It's got a bit of a lean to it so I'm encouraging that by not turning it & I will try to grow it on in what's known as slanting style. I'm also going to incorporate 'root over rock' where the plant appears to have started on top of a rock & the roots stretch down around the rock into the soil.

A little later in the spring, I will try to obtain another small jade or two, a ficus & anything else that might lend itself to to bonsai, (suggestions happily welcomed!), not to mention anything on sale that might be worth a try. When I start my spring/summer rambling, I'll be on the lookout for small, gnarly looking treelests & shrubs, especially when I prowl up in the rocks. Speaking of which - neat rocks will be sought for root over rock style as well as rocks I can use for small landscapes, as is common with the CVhinese style.

I can tie in my photography by keeping photo diaries of plants in training.

This will add another element to my enjoyment of houseplants, I have some knowledge of the plants I want, having grown them as normal houseplants & if I make mistakes along the way - I may be able to turn some of those into a benefit. The learning curve will be steep but fun - just the reading so far is a jumbled mess in my head... probably because I'm way ahead of myself & not in a good way. I have to find containers & grab a few more tools but I am really looking forward to this. The photos on the bonsai sites have me drooling & yes, I recognize some are of plants that are hundreds of years old & masterful works of art in their own right. There are a lot of plants & groupings that aren't bearly that old & this is a hobby I can keep on with as I age.
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:25 AM   #2
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There's a bonsai nursery within walking distance of my house. Acres of bonsai trees, table after table. We pass the place every time we leave the house, and I have NEVER been in there.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #3
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My indoor gardening hobby of sorts, is my aquarium. There are even little ones called Nano Cubes, for beginners. If you do the plant landscaping thing in there, they can be a real joy to look at. Put in some neon fish, and a few pretty mini shrimp, and you have a real eye catcher for the home. I have a large aquarium, but the nano cubes are really nice too, and are small enough for an apartment.
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:27 PM   #4
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Those are from this site:
http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=h...=0CDY QrQMwBw

There is a lot more out there if you Google Landscaping Nano Cubes.

---------- Post added at 12:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:24 AM ----------

Check out this site:
http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=h...ed=0CGkQrQMwFg

It's like looking into magic forests!
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:27 PM   #5
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That is really quite pretty.
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flourbug View Post
There's a bonsai nursery within walking distance of my house. Acres of bonsai trees, table after table. We pass the place every time we leave the house, and I have NEVER been in there.

I know which one you mean!!! Never been in it -- we drive past it going to and from Haley VA ---- Someday, though!!
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mousehound View Post
My indoor gardening hobby of sorts, is my aquarium. There are even little ones called Nano Cubes, for beginners. If you do the plant landscaping thing in there, they can be a real joy to look at. Put in some neon fish, and a few pretty mini shrimp, and you have a real eye catcher for the home. I have a large aquarium, but the nano cubes are really nice too, and are small enough for an apartment.

WOW!!!!

Followed your lead on aqua cube and found this on YouTube




Never heard of this before and I'm just blown away at the beauty and serenity of the aquascapes!!!!
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Old 03-26-2015, 03:44 PM   #8
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Continuing with the reading - some processes & procedures for bonsai seem pretty straightforward, others have me a bit confused. I'm not worried about it though because I'm a LONG way from starting to train any polant yet. I have 20 jade leaves & trimmings I'm trying to root - I know one has & the others... I have to be patient & wait.

For the heck of it, I snipped some boxwood from shrubs outside & damned it, 2 weeks later, they're still looking alive. Hard to tell with box - I swear it could be totally petrified & still look alive!

I obtained a Ming aralia start some 8-9 years back & finally, a few months back, bothered looking up the plant! They tend to upright growth with new branches coming out, then growing vertically. Mine had been getting tall but wasn't doing much of anything else; there were just a few secondary branches.

The trick apparently, is to lop the top off if you want branching. That seems SO counterintuitive - break it to make it bigger. I know that works, I've used that with other plants. About 6 weeks ago I started giving the plant half strength fertilizer every 2 weeks - it had been repotted in the early winter. I also found it a home where it's happy - enough light to keep it growing & happy without dropping leaves. Last week, after the second dose of fertilizer, I noticed a lot of green 'dots' along the stem... buds? Yup! Most of those have started growing so I should get lots of branching.

So last night, I lopped off the top. Hopefully, that will give me a second plant & although their shape is a bit 'off' for bonsai, you can do some neat things with it.

Worth a shot.
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mousehound View Post
My indoor gardening hobby of sorts, is my aquarium. There are even little ones called Nano Cubes, for beginners. If you do the plant landscaping thing in there, they can be a real joy to look at. Put in some neon fish, and a few pretty mini shrimp, and you have a real eye catcher for the home. I have a large aquarium, but the nano cubes are really nice too, and are small enough for an apartment.
I bought a 50 gallon in January. Every plant I've put in there, except the Java fern, has been eaten into extinction. . The Silver Dollars seem to be the worst offenders.
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:32 PM   #10
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We had that problem when we ran tanks. SO doesn't want to get back into fish tanks & I don't blame him. I'm not interested enough to do the work involved & it got to be too much for him to do it properly.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:48 PM   #11
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yeah, way more work than my pond, but I love watching them, and the sound of the water.

Might add a small aquarium just for plants.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:44 PM   #12
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2 months later...

I had lopped the top off my Ming aralia in hopes of rooting it & using it as the basis for a bonsai. I thought it was doing okay... now I think it's dead. Oh well, I'll try again... once the main plant looks less spindly. That experiment was a success in an important way though, a dozen or so spots along the one main trunk are slowly turning into branches. I wanted the plant bushier, so that works for me! Just below the lopped off top, a new 'leader' is well established. By summer's end, it will be hard to tell the top was chopped.

The jades - finally got SO's plant strategically pruned to a good framework. That's not being turned into a bonsai but needs a good framework for future growth. When SO wasn't looking, I pinched off most of the growing tips, leading to replacement by 2, in some cases 3 new growing tips - that will make for a 'fuller' plant.

I have 9 baby jades rooted - all were pried out of whatever pots I'd stuck clippings or leaves & were put in one windowsill planted to establish over the rest of the spring. No idea what I'll do with them as bonsai specimens - I'm waiting for them to speak to me but they're so young, I'm only getting wails & whimpers. None of them are big enough to suggest a style or shape. Apparently, I shouldn't do more this summer anyway, other than let them establish a good root system & grow a bit.

I had one clipping that was crooked & rooted leaning. I potted it up leaning even more with the roots sort of spread over a small piece of granite rock. It is REALLY on a slant; to the point where I plunked a piece of granite on the back side as a counterweight. That should keep it still until the roots really anchor in better. At some point, (soon), I'm supposed to wrap the root mass & rock in plastic, so the roots grow against the rock or something. I'm not quite certain exactly what I'm supposed to be doing there or why & until |I get the why, I won't grok the what properly. I'd planned on, over time, watering exposing the top part of the rock along with the roots on top of it. Might work. If not, I'll lift the whole thing up a centimeter or 2 late this summer or early next spring. Still not sure how I'm going to shape the top. I have an inconvenient branch or second truck - to figure out.

But overall, so far so good. I dropped the idea of boxwood & other outdoor shrubs. Unless I can winter them outdoors, it's not going to work & there's no way I can do that here without them disappearing or destroyed.

Thankfully, you can't screw up too badly with jades.
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Old 05-14-2015, 10:25 PM   #13
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I think that sounds like you've got a great start! I've always admired bonsai but I just don't have the patience and devotion to keep from killing the plants from neglect. So I compromise and prune my shrubs with bonsai style in mind. Right now I'm focusing on a large rosemary, a Japanese maple and a St John's Wort but I also prune other things like fruit trees, beauty berry, holly and the like. Some of them are really starting to shape up.
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:53 AM   #14
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At least you are not trying to kill plants like I am and your new hobby is less likely to try to kill you!

I love the serenity of all of this from the photography to the underwater landscapes to the tree trimming. Very peaceful.
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