You do, however need time and dedication to perform the rituals that keep these plants alive: they rely on you entirely to survive. There is great beauty in the simplicity of bonsai, and providing you include their routines as part of your own, caring for bonsai can be calming and rewarding.

As Thomas says: “Our customers have strong social consciences and care about the environment, so our plants appeal to their wish to take care of their surroundings and be responsible with their purchasing power. Bonsai gives its owner the chance to slow down and focus on caring for something beautiful and gives them the chance to unwind.”

Early efforts

At this point I should confess that my first attempt at caring for bonsai was not a success. Despite my love for its spare aesthetic, compact shape and appealing personality, my little pine tree got lost in the clutter of my life. Somehow between caring for myriad other living entities (cats, hens, houseplants, garden, seedlings), my lovely bonsai slipped into fifth or sixth place and dried out, never to be resuscitated. But I have taken a deep breath and am trying again.

To encourage myself, I spoke to Jake Hobson, founder of Niwaki, a company that specialises in painfully sharp and addictive Japanese gardening tools and other great stuff besides (for information about his books, lectures and workshops visit

He describes Japanese gardens as landscapes; microcosms of nature where all the trees are shaped to fit into these landscapes: “With an awful lot of artistry and cultural baggage in there as well. Bonsai is not a verb meaning to prune or miniaturise. It means potted tree, and it is no different to any other form of pruning or looking after potted plants, just on a smaller, more intense scale.”

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