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This gnarled, twisted black pine is 60 years old and 14 inches tall. Trained to grow on a hollowed-out rock as if it is clinging to a sharp peak, the pine cannot be removed without harming the plant.
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Saeko Oshiro, the woman responsible for all the wonderful bonsai at Shanti Bithi Nursery, in Stamford, Connecticut, possesses a wealth of knowledge, which she gained from her grandfather in Japan. We are working on a Japanese Ezo spruce, which is much loved for its tiny needles that further the illusion of scale.
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Forces of Nature
The art of bonsai strives to re-create the effects of weather, time, and plant growth in miniature. The deadwood trunk of this 100-year-old Korean boxwood is carved in a style suggesting the hardships that a tree would endure in nature.
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The many aerial roots of a dwarf ficus call to mind a giant banyan tree.
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Each bonsai is displayed like sculpture at Shanti Bithi Nursery.
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The leaves of this lace-leaf Japanese maple -- here, a brilliant yellow -- turn colors, just like a full-size tree.
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An 80-year-old 'Kingsville' boxwood resembles a grove of sinuous trunks.
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Tools of the Trade
A complete Japanese tool kit for training potted trees includes tweezers, a rake, concave cutters, shears, brushes, and a saw.
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Warm-climate plants such as bougainvillea are more suited to indoor situations than many deciduous trees or evergreens, which require a cold dormant period.
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The knobby branches and autumnal coloration of this Korean hornbeam exemplify maturity and the passing of the seasons. At its heart, bonsai is a celebration of the fleeting gestures of nature.
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