Category Archives: major life changes

A wee trim…


I was very happy to see my little Elm grow, especially since my main bonsai “goal” was to keep the thing alive-no more, no less. However, I read in one of the MANY bonsai guides that I had bought that you have to trim the tree so that the roots can support the foliage. I was sure though, that if I trimmed too much “off the top” so to speak, that I would do irreparable damage. So I trimmed a few shoots…very few. I was always conflicted. It felt weird trimming the new shoots that looked so ready to grow abundantly. Yet, at the same time, it seemed a bit harsh to cut the established branches, especially since it was obvious that they WERE surviving.  I was unable to look at my tree as a gardener and do what was the best for the tree. I only cut off what made me feel safe–kind of like when you go to get a new ‘do, but chicken out and get just a trim. And then you feel frustrated afterwards. This was how I felt about pruning my tree…wanting to give it a new ‘do, but only brave enough to play it safe. And, this method worked…for the time being. I kept my little Elm alive, I reached my bonsai “goal” and eventually learned that, at times, just enough can be too little.


Did you know…?


“Did you know…?” became the dreaded question chez moi. I was obsessively reading about bonsai trees, their care, their history, etc. and then sharing all that knowledge with my family. I think they tolerated me at first because I was so excited.

Then they just look at me oddly, or nodded, smiling and bewildered.

But, I give them credit because they followed me patiently through the local garden shops’ bonsai sections. They received mini-lessons on the vices and virtues of indoor and outdoor bonsai. They learned why I preferred outdoor bonsai (trees are supposed to be outside) to indoor bonsai (hydrometers?!). They learned that it was very important that my Chinese Elm was acclimated to the Paris area.

I am not sure they cared, but they learned. I was happy for the small victory. I have been a teacher for 25 years (grades 1-12). I LIKE when people learn something, even if it’s only a small thing like the foliage of a tree and its rootball should be approximately the same size to ensure proper growth. I mean, who knew?

Learning and accumulating these small facts in books, magazines, websites, and YouTube videos (OMG–the videos!), made my world grow bit by bit…




My first bonsai tree…


My first tree was a Chinese Elm, about 14 years old. The vendor at the  Jardin Yili picked it out for me out of hundreds of similar looking trees–really similar! I had no idea what made a “good” tree–I just felt I would know it when I saw it. The vendor showed me the tree, I acted impressed, and, of course, looked around for others. After thirty minutes or so, I was back at her side, realizing that the tree she had picked out was exactly what I wanted. We paid for the tree (80 euros), chatted awhile and then I bore my treasure home. It was a small tree but it came to symbolize big–good and bad–things in my life.


26800194photo from Passion Nature 78