The Living Art of Bonsai
                       Bonsai is an illusionary reflection of nature produced under controlled conditions.

 In these stressful times one could use a hobby that would temper our emotions, relieve tension, and provide physical and mental relaxation. In the process of creating and growing a bonsai, you can become totally absorbed in the work and deeply involved in the pleasure it offers. For awhile you can easily forget your worries. A bonsai is not created in a single day, it requires years of constant care and patient training. You will learn patience while creating bonsai. Beginning with your first tree, you will learn through nurturing and training,, how to style and care for a bonsai tree. The process of bonsai creation involves effort, but the sense of satisfaction and joy you derive from this process is long-lasting.

 Bonsai is a unique art, for it is three dimensional, unlike paintings that are one dimensional. Bonsai may be viewed and enjoyed from many angles and positions. Also in contrast to other forms of art, the pleasure comes not so much from completing the work, for a bonsai is never truly finished, but from creating it. Bonsai is a living art and ever-changing, it may be thought of as a living sculpture. Through proper training and cultivation you will be able to create a beautiful work of art more natural than nature itself. Merely planting a tree in a pot, without the beautifying influence of human creativity, make only potted plants, not a work of art.

 It has been said that man comes from nature and to nature he returns. Therefore, manís attitude towards nature should not be to fight or conquer but to cooperate and treasure. Oriental philosophy, especially in China, was derived from the sensibility and understanding gained through human contact with nature. Among all of natureís products, trees and stones are undoubtedly the two most closely interrelated with manís living environment. If we carefully arrange trees and stones in a pot, although we may not be in the midst of mountains and forest, we can nevertheless enjoy the immeasurable pleasure and wonder of nature.

 A bonsai tree should tell the story of itís life: If a tree has been growing in an open area, unencumbered by other trees, itís trunk and branches will be growing in a more uniform pattern. If a tree starts life in a forest where it has to compete with other trees, the trunk and branches will have more movement in itís search for sunlight Branches in a single tree will compete for sunlight and give trees their interesting shapes. If a tree has grown in northern climates, where it is accustomed to heavy snow loads, itís branches will be bent strongly downward. If the tree lives on a rocky coast or in a mountainous region where it is battered by sustained winds, it will be leaning with itís branches swept to one side. Even trees here in Florida will show the effects of our thunderstorms and hurricanes. So when you create a bonsai you want to tell that story.

 One does not need vast horticultural knowledge to care for bonsai, nor does one need to be an artist to create a bonsai, all one needs is the want to learn. There are many ways to learn the art of bonsai. Your best source for inspiration is nature. Take time to study trees in your area, especially in the winter when the deciduous trees have lost their leaves, then you can study the branch structure. Each variety of tree has itís very own growth characteristics, and those characteristics you will want to show when creating your bonsai. A good source of knowledge is from your local bonsai club. Another way is to take workshops given by your club, state bonsai conventions and bonsai nurseries that offer them.