Bonsai trees offer an intimate connection to nature that can bring the outdoors in. While they require constant care, if kept healthy and flourishing, these magnificent trees could last for centuries!
There are various societies across the UK that provide instruction in bonsai art. These groups often host books and seminars related to this discipline.
Scots pine is an aggressively growing conifer that can reach heights of 30-60 feet in the wild. Its distinctive flaking orange/red-brown bark makes it a popular choice for bonsai trees.
This tree is native to Scotland but also grows in parts of Europe and Asia. It’s widely planted as both a timber plant and ornamental tree, especially as Christmas trees.
Its soft reddish wood is often employed for paper production. Furthermore, turpentine-producing trees produce resin called turpentine that can be utilized to craft rope and tar.
Scots pine has another beneficial use as a source of essential oils and other chemical compounds, which are used to treat various ailments. Not only do these have antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, but also astringent, decongestant, venolymphatic, and inflammation regulating properties.
These chemicals help to eliminate fungus and bacteria, as well as reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals. This has numerous advantages for humans, such as reduced stress levels and improved respiratory capacity.
Scots pine is not only economically valuable, but a stunning tree with long, stiff needles and large round candles that look fantastic in any style of bonsai. They’re especially suitable for informal upright, slanting, windswept and cascade designs.
When training a pine bonsai, the initial step is to prune away older needles and candles so you can more accurately create your desired design. Doing this will also allow the pine to take in more light for better illumination.
Once the old needles and candles have been taken away from your Scots Pine tree, it’s time to trim back any branches that have grown out too much. It is essential that these are kept trimmed back so as not to disrupt soil nutrients or the overall aesthetic of the tree.
It is worth noting that even though Scots pine bonsai trees are considered hardy, they do need regular watering in order to stay healthy. Without adequate moisture, their roots become susceptible to root rot.
Japanese White Pine
Japanese White Pine, also known as Ulleungdo white pine or five-needle pine or Pinus parviflora, is an evergreen tree that can reach heights of 80 feet (25 meters). It belongs to the Pinaceae family of trees and has been cultivated for centuries in mountain regions across Korea, China and Japan.
This dense and compact pine creates a striking landscape element when used for bonsai. It is widely popular among bonsai hobbyists, often grown as either an upright bonsai or even in natural settings as a taller pyramidal style bonsai.
This tree can be found growing naturally on rocky slopes in Asia and is hardy to USDA Zone 4. It requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil, but will tolerate cold, dry or hot weather conditions as long as conditions remain mild.
Needles are 3-5 inches in length, soft and vibrant green, appearing finer and more delicate than black pine needles. They appear tufted along their stems, held somewhat upright along their stems, with blue/green tufts at branch tips.
Seed cones are oval to oblong-shaped, brownish-red in color and 1 to 2 inches long. They mature during the autumn of their second year and may occur singly or clustered.
It is a hardy species of pine, capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -17 degrees Fahrenheit without too much difficulty. Unfortunately, they do not like being kept under shade netting, so I prefer keeping mine outdoors in the summer – not indoors but on a sunny bench in my garden.
Woolly adelgid can be a problem in spring when candles are opened too early and before the needles have emerged. Oils and an effective registered treatment can help protect your tree.
This species can be grafted onto other pine rootstocks or rooted from cuttings in late winter or early spring, though it’s more often propagated from seed. No matter which method you choose, this variety makes an excellent starter bonsai.
This stunning evergreen species has a strong growth dominance at the apex of its trunk, making it ideal for creating large-scale bonsai, as long as you can balance this out with some pruning. You can do this by thinning out branches at each node terminal on the trunk or wiring the main trunk while still young to encourage adventitious buds along its length for better-staggered branches.
Alnus glutinosa, commonly known as Black Alder, is a deciduous tree native to Europe and western Asia. It’s also found in North Africa and has recently been introduced into some parts of the United States and Canada.
This fast-growing tree can be used to create an idyllic landscape in a range of climates. It prefers sunny spots with moist to wet soil and can tolerate cold weather; additionally, it thrives well in nutrient-depleted soils and has long been used as an erosion preventer.
It produces dark-green leaves with an inward notch at the tip. In autumn, it produces clustered catkins which open and mature into small cones resembling pine cones.
Alder has a long tradition as an important source of food for birds and animals during wintertime. Its roots can keep water in the ground after floods or droughts, helping control soil erosion while fertilizing depleted soils with essential nutrients.
The bark of the alder tree can be used to craft a variety of traditional medicinal products. For instance, dehydrated and powdered forms of it are utilized as components in toothpaste and mouthwash as well as for treating ague. Furthermore, it has been said to be effective at treating scabies and other skin infections.
A decoction made with the bark is believed to help tighten mucous membranes, stop internal and external bleeding, cure injuries, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Infusions of the bark or leaves can be used to soothe coughs, bronchitis and asthma. It’s also good mixed in tea for sore eyes and noses. As a fungicide it works well too; add it into a bath for inflammation reduction in joints.
Alder bark has long been used in herbal remedies, and its diuretic properties make it a particularly valuable remedy for urinary tract infections. A decoction of the bark may also be used to treat bronchitis and pneumonia as well as rheumatism and arthritis.
Pinus parviflora, commonly referred to as Ulleungdo white pine or Five-needle pine, is a beloved bonsai species. Native to Korea and Japan, this mountainous shrub grows wild as part of landscape and garden trees throughout Asia.
It is an evergreen conifer with a conical to columnar habit and five needle-bearing bundles of stiff and bluish-green needles that grow pyramidal when young, opening up and widening with age; requires good drainage and is salt tolerant.
This tree is native to Japan and Korea, growing up to 50-70 feet high. It’s also a popular bonsai tree in the UK where it’s usually grafted onto black pine roots for an erect shape with vibrant bluish-green foliage.
It is best to protect a grafted bonsai from freezing temperatures during the wintertime by keeping it outdoors, but under shelter in either a shed or greenhouse. These hardy plants can withstand temperatures down to around -25degC.
Wild, it can be found on sunny rocky slopes and mountains between 60 to 1,800 meters. It grows to a size of 25 meters with an irregular crown that flattens with age, making it highly decorative in a garden setting.
The trunk of this tree is typically large and straight (sometimes splitting into two or more stems), with gray to brown bark that peels away in layers.
Like most pines, it is vulnerable to aphids, caterpillars and mealy bugs. Additionally, it can become infected with fungal diseases and root rot.
Pinus parviflora seeds can be difficult to germinate, especially if they have been seeded; even then, the plants that do emerge tend to be less vigorous than their parent plants. In rare instances, seeds may be soaked overnight in a glass of water before sowing them.
Slow-growing bonsai requires full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. Repotting should be done approximately every three to five years, depending on the size of the tree. They can thrive in a variety of soil types including clay, loam, sand as well as acidic or poor ones.