Caltrops: Lego Bonsai

Finally A Bonsai I Cannot Murder. Probably…

In the past ten years or so I have dabbled in the ancient art* known in Japanese as bonsai. And each and every time, I have failed miserably. The poor baby tree never had a chance in my care. Bonsai is the art of “training” a tree to live in a small pot. Thus stunting it’s growth and creating a seemingly baby version of a full size tree. There it much more to this art than that though. Bonsai are designed and shaped meticulously. Using wires, you gently force the branches to grow in a certain direction. You also prune the tree to meet the image you have for it. Some people draw sketches prior to pruning. Some just go from the image in their heads. That image may include the pruning of just one needle from a branch. It may include purposely damaging a part of the tree to create a jagged/dead area. It is all very zen, really. My first exposure to this art form(I bet many people’s) was Karate Kid. Mister Miyagi was often seen tending to his bonsai trees. Slowly pruning away.

*The history of this art goes back to ancient China

It looked completely uninteresting as a child. But later on in life, as my interest and studies in Japanese culture and history began to blossom more, some time around 2013 I decided that I wanted to give it a try. Admittedly, I over did it, as I tend to do and bought three trees and all the tools.

Some of the many tools of the art. And I used most of them The only one I didn’t use was the rake(red)

Because of course, they were all dead within six months. Yup. Nailed it. They are incredibly delicate and sensitive to the weather. Over or under watering are major issues. But I didn’t give up, and tried once more with a couple more “easier” trees. Yeah, they died almost immediately. I officially sucked at bonsai.

Before pruning
After pruning and training. The tree on the right was pre-trained.

A few years later I decided to give it a try again with my wife. We were looking for hobbies that we could do together. So I picked a tree that was incredibly easy to care for and bought two. One for me and one for her. Actually they weren’t trees. They were shrubs. They were dead inside of a couple months.

These were Rosemary. The house smelled great. We even used some in our cooking

So I finally gave up. At this point, I have killed about 10 baby trees. Bonsai was apparently not for me. Until, I found the Lego bonsai kit. At last, a bonsai I could put work into and feel good about. The Lego bonsai comes with the ability to build two variants. The sakura(cherry blossom) and traditional evergreen. We decided to build the sakura one first, since it was in the spring. Cherry blossom season. We would later build the traditional one. The cherry blossoms are pink frogs. My wife was lost, as I laughed. She didn’t understand why they were frogs. It works, and it’s cute. Though I have never seen a real sakura bonsai, I am sure they exist. Later in the year we put together the remaining pieces to form the traditional tree. And it looks pretty good.

The cherry blossom version is cute but a little too white I think. Kind of difficult to photograph, very bright and dark.

A key feature in this kit are the wires seen wrapping around the trunk. These are the training wires, used to bend the tree over time. Also the stand that it sits on is a very nice touch. The small pegs used in the tray are similar to the rocks used in the soil for real bonsai. Bonsai does not use regular potting soil. They use a very special soil usually with rocks in them and covering the top layer. This way the water flows freely, and does not pool. The size of this kit is pretty spot-on, as compared to the average bonsai.

I like this version more. Much more traditional.

I kind of want to try once more to care for a real bonsai. We will see if that happens. But for now, I will just enjoy my Lego baby tree. No water required. Just have to not drop it.

[This post was originally published at Otherverse Games & Hobbies]

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All of these are true except for one:

Robert is: a Hobbyist, a Music Lover, an RPG Gamer, a Mustard Lover, Chaotic Neutral, a Japanese Speaker, a Veteran, an Otaku, a Table Tennis Player, an Anime Fan, an Aviation Professional, a New York Rangers Fan, a Chaos Lover With Loyalist Tendencies.

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