When I first started this apprenticeship, Jack Sustic (Head Curator) told me something like this: “There will be days this summer when you do nothing but water all day long. But even then, it has been a good day.” I am now starting to experience these “days” that he was referring to. On Tuesday I spent a little over six hours watering the trees and spraying the pots and tables with cold water to reduce the ambient air temperature.
Upon hearing his words I was a bit daunted, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how valuable this time has been. It’s a chance to be up close and personal not only checking for water, but for pests, sun scald, nutrient deficiency, over fertilizing, over watering, weeds, soil health, soil integrity, observing new growth, checking for dead branches, memorizing latin names, etc. When you spend the majority of the day standing a foot away from these trees, you start to notice more and more as time goes on.
Special things takes place when you partake in very repetitive, methodical work, be it Bonsai or not. You break through walls of thinking, and approach different levels of understanding. It can be very difficult at times, and it was sometimes very mentally taxing in the beginning. Winding up a garden hose 15-20 times a day was sometimes frustrating. They always snag, they always get caught, they break, they don’t work, they spray infrequently, this is the nature of hoses everywhere. But such a simple task is really whipping my butt into shape, and pushing me to work harder and smarter.