Air Layering Bonsai Tutorial

How to air layer bonsai by Peter Chan, part of Herons Bonsai.

Bonsai are now a part of our lives. Like oriental food, they are now taken for granted and most people are familiar with them. No longer are these tiny trees regarded as curiosities or botanical freaks, as they were a few decades ago. There was a time when they were available only at specialist centers, but now it is possible to buy bonsai in shopping malls and on the internet. These plants can also be found at garden centers and horticultural shows.

Some Bonsai are relatively inexpensive, while others can be very costly. As with any commodity, the different styles and grades of bonsai are reflected in the price. You can buy a young, newly trained bonsai with very limited funds, or you can spend thousands on an exquisite masterpiece that has been shown at major exhibitions in Japan. Serious Bonsai enthusiasts regard good-quality bonsai as works of art, and these are highly collectible plants.

Although the art of Bonsai is essentially about growing trees, for many people it is much more than that. Bonsai plants convey something about the owner’s lifestyle, aesthetic sense and attitude towards nature and the environment. Growing bonsai has come to be associated with Zen aesthetics, and some practitioners derive a special therapeutic benefit, which comes from the innate peace and tranquility that working with bonsai imparts. Like yoga and t’ai chi, bonsai are said to have a calming influence on the mind and spirit, and they can help to relieve the stresses of today’s busy world.

Bonsai are certainly beautiful to look at,but there is much more to the pastime than simply achieving beauty. The image of an ancient tree clinging to a rock and struggling to survive against all the odds has been a source of inspiration for Chinese sages and scholars for at least two millennia.

Keeping bonsai is not just about gardening – it is art and spirituality combined with horticultural techniques. Creating bonsai is a challenge, and enthusiasts are forever striving for horticultural and aesthetic excellence. Unlike other artistic projects, however, a bonsai is never finished. It continues to grow and change, which means that perfection is always transitory and beauty is only momentary. Growing bonsai is a never-ending quest for perfection.

Those who are dedicated to the hobby regard it as a way of life. It requires commitment and can dictate the way you spend your time and resources. Your weekends and holidays can soon become geared around your bonsai activities. Nevertheless, the rewards that come from striving for a perfect work of art more than compensate for the time and effort involved.

We are Britain’s Premier Bonsai Nursery, with over 7 acres of land dedicated to bonsai, and have 21 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals, and have a display at Wisley Gardens dedicated to our bonsai. We sell our bonsai through our website Herons Bonsai.

Trident Maple - Acer buergerianum

Trident Maple - Acer buergerianum

Trident Maple - Acer buergerianum

The Trident Maple - Acer buergerianum is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree reaching a height of 5–20 m with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter. The leaves are in opposite pairs, 2.5–8 cm long (excluding the 2–5 cm petiole) and 3.5–6.5 cm broad, hard, glossy dark green above, paler below, usually with three lobes; on mature trees the lobes forward-pointing and with smooth margins, on young trees with more spreading lobes and serrated margins. The flowers are produced in spring, yellow-green, in pendulous corymbs; they are small, with five greenish sepals and five yellow-white petals about 2 mm long, and eight stamens. The fruit is a samara with two winged seeds, each seed 4–7 mm diameter, with a 15 mm wing; the wings are forward-pointing and often overlapping each other.

Bonsai turntable

One of the most useful tools for bonsai is a moderately priced Bonsai turntable. These turntables can be priced as high as $1,500 buy you can buy a model that is around $20 that will server your needs for many years. Using a Bonsai turntable will allow you to quickly view your plant from various angles for styling, trimming, or wiring. It can also be used with an agled piece of wood to see different views priopr to placing the plant in a pot. I like to use a Bonsai turntable when I am trimming so I work evenly on each side as I proceed with the pruning.

Bonsai Branch Bender

This bender is very helpful as you become more advanced in bonsai. This tool is very adjustable and will easily handle tree trunks up to an inch. They are very low priced and can be left in place. I did a short demo video on this bender. Watch the Bonsai Branch Bender demo video.

Bonsai Knob Cutters

A good pair of Bonsai Knob Cutters is essential for advanced bonsai artistry. These tools are great for gettting in close and removing small buds, branchs, gins, and inperfections. This is a high quality pair and is made from carbon steel.

Bonsai Tweezers

This is probably not the first bonsai tool I would buy, but it sure comes in handy. There is always something small, like a bud or a bug that needs to be grabbed. This type is good because there is a blade tool on the opposite end. This can be used to loosen the plant from the edge of a pot.

Bonsai Knife

A good sharp Bonsai Knife is one of the most important tools you can have. There are so many uses that I can't even list them all. You just need it there when it is needed.

Free - My First Japanese Maple Bonsai eBook

Japanese maple cover

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