Sunday 23 January 2011

23.01. Bonsai

I promised you some news about the foxes in my garden, forgot to tell you about it yesterday so here it comes: last Friday the owner of the house next door came round to do an inspection together with a building contractor; the whole house next door is going to be renovated and they were going through the list of what needs to be done inside as well as outside. I was outside in my garden and couldn’t help overhearing their conversation so I asked which one of them were the owner of the house; the woman confirmed it was her and I told her about the foxes and how they have taken over the whole garden there, partly because her tenant is not
living in the house that often. I also told her that the most humane way to get rid of foxes is to have them caught and shot. Relocating foxes to a less dense populated area is rather cruel to the foxes, as they are closely connected to the area they regard as their territory. The woman said she would contact a pest company and have the foxes removed when they start renovating the house! Yippee! This means, if she keeps her word, that my garden might be safe this summer! Of course, if the family of foxes is picked up, maybe as early as next month or in March, it still means that there is time for another family of foxes to realise that here’s an empty territory just waiting for squatters to move in....and I’m no better off ... But if I am really lucky, no one will discover this area for a good few years, and I will be left in peace!....speaking of peace, before I can get that peace I will have to endure 3-4 months of building work next door! That’s going to be a tough period to get through; enduring dust, mess and especially all the noise from early morning, hours before I even contemplate waking up. Ugh!

And now: tah-dah! Here is my Bonsai tree :-) I got it last night, and have already been on the Internet to read up about how to keep it alive. I think my friends who bought it for me couldn’t have got a fussier tree if they had tried, according to what I have read so far...but I don’t think they knew that when buying it! The tree is called Serrissa foetidia, common name is ‘tree of a thousand stars’ which refers to the tiny white flowers the tree can get up to several times a year. Foetidia means foul smelling in Latin, and refers to the bad smell you get when bruising a leave or cutting of a piece of a root. The tree drops its leaves if you give it too much water and it drops its leaves if it gets too dry. It also drops its leaves if it is too hot or too cold in the room or the temperature changes are too great during the day and night. Finally, it will drop its leaves if it’s not enough daylight or even if it is moved from one place to another in the room! Yeah, fussy plant this one...needless to say, after yesterday’s transport out in the cold, on the tube to me, today the tree is dropping leaves as if it’s getting paid for it! But after reading up about it on the Internet I have been assured that this is normal and the leaves will come back when the tree is settled. 

The challenge now is to find out what the right amount of water is for this tree, as it doesn’t come with an instruction, and all I could find was ‘not too wet but don’t ever let it dry out’. wet is not too wet? This Bonsai comes in a tiny pot; I will have to check it every day, and certainly have to water it more often than most of my plants I think. Oh, and I can’t give it tap water, apparently it’s too alkaline; I will have to collect rainwater! I have thought about making a rainwater collector in my garden anyway, for my rhododendron, because in the summer it has to be watered so it doesn’t dry out. The rest of the year it gets enough water from when it rains, but the summers are too dry here. So maybe I will get an excuse now to finally make a rainwater collector so both my rhododendron and my new Bonsai can get the correct water they need. The alternative is to buy bottled water, but...really, that would be stretching it...I never buy bottled water for myself, I consider it a huge con as the water we get from the tap is perfectly adequate for human consumption – spending money on bottled water for my plants would be a financial burden I am not willing to undertake. I can see a DIY project coming on pretty soon.... :-)

I will need to create some sort of stand to put the Bonsai on too, as at the moment it is placed on my cooker! Obviously not a permanent place, but it’s the best place in my kitchen for now. I think I will try to find some sort of box which will give it the same height as the window sill, to maximise the light coming through and not get the draft from the window too close. I have to think about how to do that one, not sure yet. In the mean time the Bonsai is safe on my cooker; just have to slide it off to the counter whenever I have to use the cooker. Hopefully that small change of position won’t result in drop of all the leaves every time! I have wanted a Bonsai for years, but first of all; they are quite expensive, and secondly, I know they are that’s why I haven’t bought one. Now that I got one as a present I am determined to keep it alive. Some Bonsais can become up to a hundred years old and get passed on from generation to generation.

I have never had a plant that required as much attention as this one does, so we’ll see....One thing I have enjoyed the last 6 years is growing orchids. I have 4 orchids; 3 Phalaenopsis and 1 Dendrobium. Here is one of my Phalaenopsis which has just started to flower, it is just lovely at this stage, and with Phalaenopsis you have flowers like this up to 3 months before they slowly die down. My 3 Phalaenopsis’ have all different flowering time, but because they flower every 9 months, every now and then they might overlap each other in flowering. That’s exactly what has happened right now, and I have two gorgeous orchids in full flower in my kitchen window!

OK, you are now up-to-date about the foxes and about my newest horticultural acquirement. I think this is it for today, it’s Sunday today and my son is on his way to have dinner here, I better slide the Bonsai off the cooker and swap it with something edible so we'll have something to eat when he arrives! Take care, see you soon :-)


  1. Actually there is an easy way to find the perfect condition for your bonsai: as it gives you a feedback about its mood you should write down a daily report of dropped leaves and match it with the changes of position, light, temperature and so on.... nice and easy uh? :-)

    Given your attention for your garden, I'm sure it will survive!!!! :-)

  2. Yes, it sounds very easy, I just sit in my kitchen 24 hours a day and note down the changes in light, temperature and any other condition that might have an impact!!
    I have already changed the timer on my heating system though, so the temperature won’t drop too low during the night...see, I am willing to stretch quite far to keep the Bonsai alive :-)


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