Is bonsai the next gardening trend?

Jean Vernon goes undercover at the RHS Flower Shows and spots the latest and hottest new trend in the world of gardening

bonsai
It's easier to start with a bonsai that has already been trained into shape. Image: Jean Vernon
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Succulents and terrariums are currently on-trend for the generation rent and youngsters still living at home. But hipsters, now they’ve caught the bug good and proper, are hankering after something a bit more challenging. At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, I spotted groups of late twenty/thirty something’s simply drooling over the bonsai displays.

There’s something aesthetically pleasing to look at with bonsai. Image: Jean Vernon

Millenials have already embraced houseplants and succulents, creating incredible indoor displays of these versatile plants. Bonsai trees are a leap ahead and while not suitable for indoor growing, they can be raised on balconies and in small spaces and are a perfect project for a horticultural hungry hipster.

The meticulous Japanese art of pruning and training trees into perfect miniatures has been around for literally thousands of years. Wizened ancient trees displayed in shallow ceramic pots are practically over nurtured prize pets to owners who spend hours and hours gently pruning and titivating the plants in an almost frame-by-frame animation sequence. The results are phenomenal, tiny, miniature versions of age-old, gnarled specimen trees of every species and variety imaginable are recreated as living ornaments, demanding extortionate prices if they are ever on the open market.

Starting out with bonsai

The original Japanese bonsai were often started from tiny tree saplings growing on rocky outcrops, where their roots had already been restricted. These days enthusiasts usually start with tree seedlings and start off by judiciously pruning not only the top growth but the roots too, training the tree ‘branches’ to bend with wires and weights and keeping the roots restricted by growing in tiny containers and regularly pruning them.

Seasonal beauties

Well-looked after, a bonsai will last for years. Image: Jean Vernon

These magnificent trees follow the seasons as they would in the ‘wild’ and offer a seasonal display of flowers, fruits and even their autumn colours if deciduous. The miniature trees quickly acquire the look and feel of an aged, established specimen and are regarded almost like pets to their owners, molly coddled with constant TLC and provided with everything that they need to grow in their tiny capsule of soil. To keep the trees contained and constricted the roots need careful pruning, it’s a fine art and a skill that needs to be gleaned from the experts, so if you’ve got the bonsai bug, it’s a good idea to sign up for a course to learn some more.

Bonsai specialists

There are a few specialist bonsai experts offering not just suitable tree seedlings and accessories but also courses in the fine art. Mendip Bonsai ( ) is a regular gold medal winner at the RHS Flower shows and it was this stand that was attracting the hipster attention. Its display of majestic, mature, miniature trees is always simply exquisite.

Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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