Buy a Level for Your Bonsai Bench – Even Better, Use It!
4 weeks ago Nebby 0
This Red maple (Acer rubrum) is from Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus Bonsai Portfolio. To my mind it represents something basic about the best bonsai. The ones you might pass by while searching for something showy. I was lucky when I was there, Michael pointed this one out and told me a story about it. Now you can read that same story. Micheal, ever the poet philosopher, titled it The Blaze of Autumn Sweetly Burns.
This post is a twofer. First there’s the tree above and an invitation to learn more about it and other trees that belong to Micheal Hagedorn. And second a little piece of Michael’s bonsai wisdom about level benches (thanks to Bonsai Mary for the heads up).
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Level That Bench!
“Bonsai is about details. From creation to showing, every act in bonsai is about applying technique carefully and deliberately.
And we can get rather distracted by the end zone details, focusing on the local show, getting the right pot, the best stand. Just the right accent. And you could not be faulted, those are essential points in the details of bonsai.
I’ve walked into bonsai yards where someone is so focused on those final touches as to miss one of the main horticultural ones. Being sure the bonsai bench is level is a critical one. This is not about aesthetics. It’s about water penetration.
“If a bench is just a few degrees off from level, you can see it pretty easily. What happens then, when a bonsai is watered on that bench, is that the water quickly levels to one side of the pot, and there it soaks in. The other side gets a veneer of water that quickly dries. Over time, guess what happens? We have root death on the side where no water is penetrating. Then a week of rain happens, and that root death turns into root rot. Then you have the situation where you’re prepping your trees for the big show of the year and two of your main branches die, and you’re wondering what insect is eating your bonsai. Well, the unleveled bench did the ‘eating’.
“This is just a Halloweeny example of what can happen when so simple a detail as leveling the bench is missed.
“Buy a level. Even better, use it.”
Not exactly a bench... more like a bunch of little benches. From the cover of George Buehler's Bonsai, Your Guide to Creating Stands and Benches, a clear, easy to follow, highly practical book for anyone ambitious enough to build their own backyard bonsai display.