Saturday, 2 January 2016

A Flower for the New Year

I've never had much luck with flowering bonsai.

My problems began with one of my first trees, a small Azalea which I bought in the days when I still hoped to keep my trees indoors. As an over-enthusiastic newbie I put it straight into a bonsai pot, and I probably made a few other mistakes that I wasn't even aware of. Needless to say it didn't survive for very long.

On another occasion I bought a beautiful Fuchsia. As far as I recall it was quite a big plant which would have required hard pruning if it was ever to become bonsai, but I never got that far. It too was living indoors and one day it got knocked over. It went downhill pretty fast after that.

Then there was my first Camellia. By the time I bought it I'd realised the importance of light so I put it on a stand next to a large window and hoped for the best. It stayed green for quite a while but I suspect that by the time the leaves started dropping it had already been dead for some time.

Shortly before I joined my bonsai club I bought a small twin trunk Serissa. One trunk died but it recovered well after that setback and started growing quite nicely when I finally learned the error of my ways and moved it outside. I even had hopes of putting it on our club's show, but those hopes were quickly dashed when it received an unplanned restyling courtesy of Mother Nature during a severe hailstorm in December 2007. Though that didn't kill it, it finally died tragically in the great vinegar disaster. Not before I'd propagated a few more baby Serissas from cuttings though.

In 2011 I developed one of those cuttings into a mame tree (or to be more precise a tiny stick in a pot) which I was persuaded to put into a bonsai pot long before it deserved to be in one.

A tiny Serissa bonsai, 2011

Shortly afterwards I foolishly decided to put that tree on display at a show our club was holding at a local mall. It was by far the smallest tree on show and on the Saturday it was admired by several members of the public who didn't realise just how little character it really had.

I arrived at the show on the Sunday morning to be greeted by the news that my little tree had been stolen. As the venue was frequented by wild young people who came there to party the night away, I suspect the thief crept into the fenced-off bonsai area on a dare and looked for the easiest tree to carry. If that's the case I doubt he even tried to keep it alive.

In financial terms the loss of the pot was probably a lot more significant than the loss of the tree, and in terms of time and effort I didn't lose much either, but I still mourned the probable death of the baby of my collection.

There have been a few more disasters over the years and I also have a few flowering trees with little bonsai potential. And then there's my dwarf Pomegranate which is developing quite nicely but refuses to give me a single flower or fruit.

All of which brings me to New Year 2016 and a chilli seedling that a member of my club gave me a few months ago.

Chilli seedling with its first flower (top right)

I hadn't been giving it too much attention as my focus was purely on keeping it alive, but when I was watering my trees yesterday I noticed that it was celebrating the new year with its first flower.

Close-up of flower on chilli seedling

My friend is trying to create a chilli bonsai by fusing a bunch of seedlings into one tree. I only have the one which he rejected because its growth pattern didn't fit into the group. One of these days I'll have to move it into a bigger pot and see if it can develop enough of a trunk to create a small bonsai.

For now I'm having fun turning its photos into digital art for my new photo blog at Tumblr.


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