There is a narrow margin of time that I experience each day between sleeping and waking that I might refer to as the twilight zone. A time where life is good and peaceful and full of possibilities. Now when I do finally make it to bed it’s generally pretty late and providing I am in my own bed I am usually winging my way to the land of nod pretty quickly. Once asleep you could roll me down the stairs and out onto the lawn in the pouring rain and I would be unlikely to notice. I remember once, in my youth, being at a custom car weekend and a bunch of us were camping out on the Saturday night. Following a few too many brews I fell asleep in the middle of the field. Not a good place to be considering that some of the more nocturnal campers always took great delight in running around the campsite for at least half the night doing handbrake turns and burnouts and generally adding to the party atmosphere. Any how a couple of kindly mates had gathered me up and deposited me inside a complete strangers car. When I awoke in the early hours being scowled at by the cars owner I was completely lost for words of explanation.

Normarilly I know when it is time to get up because the coffee mug beside my bed is warm. If it is cold I’m either awake early or am very late. Early one mid-week autumn morning found me swooning through twilight land as normal when a voice floated through the haze and alighted on my addled brain. ‘The big tree in the garden has fallen onto your bonsai’. Hmmmm I ignored the words, assuming them to be the cruel humour of some disillusioned sleep fairy and groped for the coffee mug, it was hot, time to stir. As I lounged on one elbow slurping at my traditional morning beverage I mused over the strange words I had heard. Thinking of the consequences I winced at the likely havoc such an occurrence would wreak.

Upon rising and poking my bleary eyed head through the curtains I was taken aback by the unusual brightness of the day. Some undetermined time later it begun to dawn on me that there was an extra piece of sky outside that was once occupied by a very large budleigha I had trained as a tree. Then I noticed that the lawn was totally obscured by a large budleigha tree resembling the one I had in mind.

Still unconvinced I washed and shaved and was industriously scrubbing my teeth when the sunlight of full consciousness begun to dawn on me and I realised through the clearing haze that that horrible budleigha tree had, indeed taken out a row of my best trees. Not being one to cry over spilt milk I dressed myself whilst musing over the possibility that I might be presented with some new design challenges from my best trees.

As I stumbled down the stairs I noticed the unusual quiet, I think the family were expecting Armageddon to begin right there in my house. Death is an integral part of life and when it comes to visit you really don’t have much choice in the matter. Trees in nature are always having to adapt, adopt and improve ( Round Table ? ) in the face of pressures exerted upon them by a hostile environment, bonsai are no different. After another cup of coffee I stepped into the garden, reviewed the mess and with a resigned sigh, went to work.
It turned out that the tree had fallen over and taken three monkey poles and my finest trees with it and was now taking up most of the lawn. My large twin trunk privet had taken a tumble amounting to a six foot drop. It had come to rest amongst the upper branches of the big tree and following a bit of judicious cutting that evening it came free. Remarkably only one branch was broken, even the moss was still intact. Fortunately the branch was still attached so I tied it back on and covered the area with cut paste, nearly a month later and it’s doing fine*. A juniper standing on the next pole along had simply been catapulted out of it’s pot and was laying on the ground covered in soil, a simple repotting job there.
Lying right beneath the tree was a group of dawn redwoods all of which were squished into some pretty impressive curves. Having chopped up the offending tree I extricated the group and, after a couple of days it all straightened out nicely.

All told I got away pretty lightly, so did my family. Whilst I take my bonsai very seriously I am happy to change my plans should nature intervene and adapt accordingly. Whilst I would not advocate this course of events as a new training regimen if it does happen be prepared to go along with the consequences, seize and enjoy the challenge. After all we are only stewards of our trees and will have to leave them behind eventually.

* Some years down the road the branch continues to thrive but has still not healed over so it’s now attached with a galvanised clout nail!
Graham Potter
Kaizen Bonsai
10/2003

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