One of the most interesting aspects of bonsai is their legacy. The tree that rests upon our benches today may have lived multiple human lifetimes before even starting its training in a pot as bonsai. From that starting point, the tree enters into the daily care of watering, styling, fertilizing, and management of pests. Even for a tree with a modest training history of 100 years, that’s approaching 37,000 days of successful care from each of those who came before us.
One of my most favorite projects in my first few weeks since starting the 2018 First Curator’s Bonsai Apprenticeship was helping to complete the recovery of a Zelkova Serrata that Aaron Hughes, the 2016 First Curator’s Bonsai Apprentice, wrote about in this blog post from September 2016. In that post, the tree that has been being trained for over 100 years was removed from its bonsai pot and placed in the ground to help it recover vigor as its roots spread.
Two years later, I was able to help continue the legacy as a team of three lifted it from the ground, cleaned away much of the old akadama soil that it was resting in, and fitted it back into its pot with new substrate.