How Does My “Cigarden” Grow?


kill-billI played the Beatrix Kiddo character, codename “Black Mamba” aka The Orchardist recently.  I strategically swept through my cigarden, and with the swift and mighty fury of my decisive mind, slashed cigars from their repose leaving an edgy mess that no doubt would be a disturbing sight to any manufacturer or brand owner.

Why?  Why do I obtain a brand and then shear it from its “perch?”  Let me try to explain.

kamakura-daibutsuHarken back to the China of 700 AD.  It was during this epoch that the pun-tsai (or tray planting) form of plant cultivation began to, excuse the pun, take root.  “Originally only the elite of the society practiced pun-tsai with native-collected specimens and the trees were spread throughout China as luxurious gifts. During the Kamakura period (1185-1392), the time in which Japan adopted most of China’s cultural trademarks, the art of growing trees in containers was introduced into…

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Bonsai soils

Taiga Bonzai

Bonsai soils
This article does not discuss every soil ingredient nor does claim which is best. This is a question that only the enthusiast can answer after experimenting over time with his/her own trees and care routine. However in general terms, the soil in which a tree was originally grown is probably the best providing it is growing well and healthy.

Soil contains a multitude of living organisms that consume, digest, and cycle nutrients. These living organisms include archaea, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa, and a wide range of insects for example. Mites, nematodes, earthworms and ants all of which are important to the vitality of a soil composition, which in turn is vitally important to any and all growing mediums.

Of course, different horticulturists make various soil combinations for their trees, although much depends on species and from where they originated for example. Conifers Pinus spp. and cedar Cedrus…

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Styling, wiring and pruning

Taiga Bonzai

Styling a general perspective – wiring & pruning

Wiring Bonsai trees can be extremely difficult or relatively easy but much depends on the species of tree and what one is trying to achieve in the design. But it should be remembered that wiring a tree takes time to reach a particular style.

Conifers can be and often are difficult to wire because when wiring to the tip of the branch the wire has to be weaved between the needles to avoid damaged. For example, the Norwegian Spruce (Picea abies) has small needles quite close together. (2–12 mm depending on the age of the tree) Damaged needles are unable to photo synthesize properly restricting growth, which is crucial to the tree’s health. Branches devoid of needles are able to bend quite easily providing care is taken.

When wiring large branches a thicker gauge wire is required to hold the branch…

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New material for bonsai part I

Taiga Bonzai

New material for bonsai part 1.

It can be said that many species of tree have interesting characteristics, be they coniferous or deciduous and their miniature counterparts (bonsai) can have awe-inspiring appearances given time, patience and care. Perhaps one species not as common in comparison with the most popular varieties found in the average bonsai collection is the Maple. But having said this, there are some bonsai enthusiasts who only collect maples and arguably what makes the Acer quite spectacular are the colours, which are displayed throughout the seasons as shown below.

3-maplesImages courtesy of(

The Maple a deciduous tree or shrub belongs to the genus Acer of which, there are approximately 128 species. Most are native to Asia, but some varieties are also appearing in Europe, North Africa, and North America. However, the Acer although not that difficult to cultivate are susceptible to leaf attack by

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