On those frequent occasions when my brain takes a hike and I am looking around my office for inspiration, I often find myself studying the items on my desk.
One of these is an artificial bonsai tree, although you have to look carefully to realise this. It is a white pine, brought from a specialist company called Bloom. They make the most amazing silk flowers and the occasional artificial tree, and the minute I saw it, I knew I had to treat myself. It is stunningly life-like and beautifully made.
You wouldn’t think that a dyed in the wool bonsai enthusiast would give such a thing house room, but it appealed to me simply because it cannot die. It will always remain perfect no matter the weather, never lose it‘s leaves in the autumn, and I love it.
I cannot help but see the differences between this tree and the real ones just outside my window, and not just the obvious differences, like the time of the year. The makers have done their best, but the bark is just a little too smooth. There are no cracks or crevices in the bark for all the tiny spiders to live in, a necessary part of any healthy tree, for they control other nastier insects.
There is no living collection of mosses and lichen around the base of the trunk either, something all of my other trees have, and although this artificial tree keeps me company all through the year, when all the others are sleeping, their leaves just a memory, it cannot change my feelings for my babies.
The ones that are so old and have pride of place in my yard, and the ones that are still finding their way to maturity. Then there are the ones I grew from seed that may not ever amount to much in my lifetime, for it takes years to become an established bonsai. These are special to me, even if they don’t look quite right yet.
I think that growing anything, whether in a pot or in your garden, is a lot like writing. Until you know what you are doing, what you produce will be just a shadow of what it could be. And like a garden, your words need tender loving care too. Prune too hard, or badly, and there are a million ways to ruin what is fragile at best and the results will be disappointing…
Liss Forest in Hampshire…