Explorit: Beginning bonsai unites heaven and earth

By From page A13 | August 30, 2013

On Saturday, Sept. 7, you will have a special opportunity to participate in a beginning bonsai workshop at Explorit Science Center!  If you’ve ever marveled at the miniature glory of a potted bonsai or wished you could shrink a tree down to fit in that plain corner of your home or office, this bonsai workshop is for you.

A bonsai is more than just a tiny tree in a pot; it’s a carefully sculpted dwarf plant, and its care and nurturing is nothing short of a horticultural art.  With its origins in ancient Chinese botanical practices, it spread to medieval Japan along with Zen Buddhism and became a philosophical symbol of unity between man and nature.

After being introduced to the West during the 19th century, bonsai are now cultivated and loved all over the world.  With Explorit’s beginning bonsai workshop, you can join a centuries-long tradition by learning how to cultivate and care for a bonsai of your own.

A common misconception about bonsai is that they are genetically modified dwarf plants.  But the diminutive size of bonsai comes from the artistic care and meticulous pruning they receive.  A combination of shaping, pruning, repotting, wiring and pinching off new growth can keep a bonsai small and mold it into a desired shape.

One hallmark of the bonsai is that it is cultivated in a pot or shallow tray.  Part of the philosophical significance of bonsai is that its roots are never planted in the earth, so it’s both natural and separate from nature.  Some say a bonsai is heaven and earth together in one pot.

A well-cared for bonsai can live for more than a century.  Some bonsai have been known to be passed down from one generation of cultivators to another.

Our guest experts from the Sacramento Bonsai Club will provide a presentation on the art and science of bonsai and will have several bonsai examples on display.  They will then lead a hands-on demonstration of how to care for your very own bonsai.

The cost of the workshop includes a bonsai tree for each participant to take home.  You’ll receive expert guidance on repotting, pruning and life-long cultivation of your new “Shohin” (less than 8 inches tall) Schefflera plant from Hawaii.

This workshop begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, and is recommended for ages 8 and up.  The cost is $25 per person and includes all materials, refreshments and a tree to take home!  You may also want to bring your own small hand pruning tools.  But space is limited, so reserve your spot today at http://www.explorit.org/csp/bonsai.

Then after the workshop, come join us in the museum for the Beautiful World:  Science and Art exhibition opening at 1 p.m.  And be sure to share your bonsai’s beauty with a photo on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. For more information call 530-756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

Lisa Justice

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