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A Bonsai, Liberated

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We awoke on November 12 to find everything covered in 2" of fresh wet snow.

Man. That big red house looks boss against snow and icy blue cirrus-brushed skies. Whoo. 

A bit later the sun broke out, and a postcard-blue sky shone. I guess it's time to haul in the lawn furniture. November 12. Snow.  Huh. Somehow having a barn red house makes it more fun. 

I had a feeling the Japanese maple needed its picture taken.

Only a week earlier, it had turned the most amazing shades of maroon and glowing orange, underlain by forest green. I don't think there's a thing I don't love about Japanese maples. I love their tiny starry leaves, the way their graceful branches spread out, the dappled shade they throw, the way they stay small and compact for decades, their smooth graybrown limbs, the colors they turn in fall. 

 This one, believe it or not, was once one of my bonsais. It just wanted to grow straight up. It was having no part of being potted. So I planted it in the yard. Whooop! now that was a good decision. It's got a twin in the backyard who's just as lovely.

 I am eyeing two of my younger bonsais right now, in fact, thinking I will plant them out. They're no great shakes as potted specimens. Neither was this one. 

Planted out, this stubborn thin tree that wanted only to grow up instead of out changed its mind in the most magnificent way. 

It's the same age as my big potted bonsais, but big enough to eat your lunch beneath. And that's just what the Before and After Remodeling crew did while they were re-siding and painting the house. It made me smile every time to see them using a bonsai as shade. Wish I'd taken a picture of that. Instead, here's Terry of the BatBoxes sharing his lunch with Chet beneath said maple. 

This morning, snow fell on that tree.

Snow on the baby hands.

An early snow, but a good one. 

I know the maple will soon drop all its leaves, like a tired woman drops her dress at the end of a long day. I have to look at her as much as I can until that time. 

Terry's observation bat box, waiting for tenants, looking toward spring. The maple, still in blazing beauty, looking toward winter. 


I think we'll have to add "the Bonsai Whisperer" to your many titles...

Love the last shot!

Mmmmmmmm. That lovely feeling you get in your stomach that usually only comes from eating wonderful home-cooked grub. What a magician you are with words and a camera. And don't you dare plant that bonsai out in the yard, that's the one that stopped me in my tracks that day.

The Japanese maples are lovely. Dogwoods are the only tree that can hold a candle to them, imo. My grandfather had a small wood of dogwoods in his backyard back in the 70s. There was really something magic about looking out at the spring bloom of dogwoods from his back porch. And walking under them, so ephemerally idyllic, with their flock of ivory flowers touched with pink or red.

Posted by Gail Spratley November 14, 2013 at 5:21 AM

I can just here Chet Baker saying--just one bite, just one...ok, thanks. Now, just one bite, just one...etc.

Oh oh oh!

I confess, I was a wee bit disappointed that I didn't get to take one of those snow-on-Japanese Maples the other day. Spit some white stuff, but petered out without leaving a trace. I love my little garden when it's draped in a puddle of red leaves, but better yet when they're frosted.

Second thought: That is fricking amazing, that you have Japanese maples that are little geishas, all bound and such, and full fledged trees, stretching up and out--from the same age group cohort! Who knew? Besides you I mean. Bonsai Whisperer, indeed!

Check out my instagram feed. I've gotten two Japanese maple pics this week!


I've had a love affair with Japanese maples ever since we moved to NW Oregon (they love it here!) and I learned about them. I have five in my yard; one that was here when we bought the properly (and had moved when we built our house) and four more that I bought and planted. This fall I bought six more babies, five of them new-to-me varieties, and I am plotting their best locations.

Some bonsai study turned up a suggestion that ancient nomadic Asian inhabitants practiced horticultural techniques including husbandry of miniature food bearing and edible plant material that essentially turned their food forest into a portable warehouse after replanting at a new location. Sustenance>>>Art>>>Landscape>>>Shade
Bonsai gathers a large community!

You must have the magic. I have one that hasn't changed shape or size (its 3ft.tall spindly). I adore it though. As a Southern Cali resident when it first dropped its leaves I thought I lilled it. It was in a large pot so I just left it thinking I'd plant something else later. (In the pot) I can't express the elation and wonder I felt when I saw those tiny red leaves later in the year! Now I probably baby it too much. LOL

What beautiful post. I had no idea that bonsais would grow into a big tree!

Holy cow! The house just looks more lovely the more I see it. Great color. I love that you planted a bonsai & it turned into such a wonderful tree. You truly are a gifted person in so many ways. : )

Batbox question: why is that batbox in the last picture so low? I'm sure there's a reason....

Same reason my bluebird boxes are 5' above the ground: so's we can look into it without climbing a ladder! They'll use them low! Yay!


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