Faerie Gardens? I’m absolutely in love with faerie gardens. All the cute little accessories and quaint landscapes make me smile and go “awwwh.” But, guess what? Miniature landscapes are not a new idea.
Chinese “Penjing,” Vietnamese “Hòn Non Bá»,” and the more widely known Japanese “Bonsai” are ancient art forms of creating either miniature trees or landscapes on rocks, in trays or pots. The oldest living bonsai tree specimens are probably 800 years old, truly priceless works of art.
Don’t be intimidated by the history – you don’t have to be a Bonsai Master; just enjoy it as a hobby and maybe add a bonsai to your Faerie Garden. Start small, don’t invest a lot of money at first, and just see if you enjoy it. If you find yourself falling in love with bonsai, you can find a ton of information and purchase bonsai books, trees, tools, containers, and even soil from the internet.
Choosing Your Bonsai
Taking my own advice, I bought this Blue Pacific Shore Juniper (Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’) from a big box store for $7.98.
Why did I chose this little fellow? When you look for a plant to transform into a bonsai, the size of the leaves are important; you don’t want great big leaves which would be out of proportion with the small size of the tree. Although tropical plants can also be trained as bonsai and grown indoors, most bonsai do much better living outside, in large part because of the greater humidity.
This one is going to live outside all year, so I chose a plant that is hardy in my growing zone (I’m in 6b). Junipers have been used as bonsai for thousands of years, so I’m following tradition. I wanted a nice, single trunk and finally, I just liked the way the tree was shaped. It already had a “wind-swept” look that I could enhance with trimming and shaping.