Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have a few bonsais. They all are hardy trees, except for one Figus benjamina which I take out in summer and must bring back indoor in the autumn. The others don't need to be taken in for the winter, I can leave them outside. In fact, they have to stay out as they need a cold period. However, they also require some handling to get them ready for a winter outside.

Apple tree

The bonsais that spend the winter outside do not mind the cold, but they have to be taken out of their pots (because the pots might not survive the freezing and thawing in wet soil), and their roots must be dug into the ground. I put them in one of the vegetable beds. Once they have their roots in the ground, you have to protect the trunk and branches by surrounding them with something like chicken wire as mice could attack them under the snow. My friend Elizabeth lost a very old, beautiful bonsai beech tree which the mice girdled during the winter.

Bonsai apple tree dug into the garden surrounded by wire to deter mice

I bought the Figus benjamina as a very small tree in a pot. I took it out of its pot and draped the roots over a stone. I was not sure it would survive such a drastic treatment, but it did quite well. Now that it is 6 years old, the roots have settled in nicely over the rock.

Ficus benjamina which is taken indoors in winter

My other bonsais are all small volunteer trees I found on the property. There is a three year old ash tree, - the first to lose its leaves in the fall and the last to get new leaves in spring.

Ash tree on the right

 I also have a horse chestnut that is only one year old and a bit of English ivy which grows as an erect shrub and blooms. As you can see from the picture below, it looks just like a miniature tree. My favourite is the apple tree pictured above which must be around 5-6 years old. I found it growing among rocks where it was half starved and had "bonsaied" on its own.

Arborescent English Ivy


  1. These are so cool! I have a little pine seedling/sapling about 4" tall on my kitchen counter; do you think it could become a bonsai?

  2. I used to want to have a go at bonsai but the care they needed put me off and of course the length of time needed to achieve a good specimen.

  3. We've always admired bonsai, but never tried it. Glad you're successful with them.

  4. I hadn't thought about getting them out of their pots for winter... Thank you :)
    With such a treatment does your apple tree grows big roots during winter ? With the soil of the vegetable beds I wouldn't be surprised if so... maybe more if it stays pretty calm...

    1. Je dois les retirer des pots qui risqueraient de casser au froid. Si les racines restaient exposées, elles ne survivraient pas l'hiver. Enterrées et sous la neige, il n'y a pas de problème et, comme tu le suggères, peut-être qu'elles continuent de pousser!

  5. I have purchased bonsai, then failed it, and felt just awful. The exposed ficus roots are an arresting sight.

  6. These are all incredible! You definitely have talent. I always thought of bonsais as just evergreens, but I realize now how wrong I was. How do have the time?

  7. Alain, those are lovely! The English Ivy is an interesting choice.

  8. Alain, these are wonderful! And I admire your skills to care, prune and protect them. I have tried in the past but will try again, thanks to this inspiring post!!
    I really like the Figus B. We have so many 'volunteers' in our garden too......in particular a 'small-leafed Linden' which just may work. thanks so much....looking forward to spring!!

  9. Wow, those are really beautiful! I saw a nice collection of bonsai at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Yours are so well cared-for!

  10. The collection in Montreal is impressive. If I remember well, it was someone from Honk Kong who offered his collection of bonsais to an institution that would build a building for them and the Montreal Botanical Garden got them. Some are over 200 years old. The Pacific Rim bonsai Collection (which belongs to Weyerhaeuser) near Seatle is also magnificent.


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