People love groves. While individual bonsai trees can tend toward the abstract, groves remain accessible. When leading friends through bonsai exhibits, I make sure to stop by any groves as they are sure to leave an impression.
This year a couple of groves stood out at BIB’s 11th annual exhibit. One, a rock-planting with Kingsville Boxwood – and figurine.
“Pandora” – Kingsville Boxwood
Yes, Boon was taken by the film Avatar. A few days before the exhibit, he planted several boxwood on a rock and topped it off with moss. For the display, he mounted the stone on plexiglass pedestals. Soon after a Na’vi figurine appeared.
Yes, we’ve been trained to shun such folly. And yes, there was controversy. Did it bother me? I’ll admit no little dissonance, but add that the trees, moss, and stone successfully held my attention.
As did a beech grove a couple aisles over. The trees are a great mix of large and small. The moss-work is excellent.
Beech grove – buna – fagus crenata
I think one reason groves are so captivating is their ability to draw us in – away from the day-to-day and into their own sphere of influence. Not unlike a movie.
The next thing you know, you look a little closer and begin to pick up the details.
Soon you start to imagine that it really is a little forest.
A single tree catches your attention. Up close, the details are compelling.
When you look up, you feel you’re in the forest.
You spot a clearing and head towards it.
You arrive at the clearing.
And for that brief moment, you get a break from the people, the noise, and the shuffle that make up the big world we live in.
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Great photos! I especially like those with the specific focus, with blurred foreground and distant background. This is a great post to get ready for a forest planting workshop!
Hi Jonas, I really like ths beech grove and your commentary.
I know that from a traditional point of view, forests are generally displayed like this beech groove with only moss……..but what are your thoughts on a forest that is more natural looking?
Do you have any experience or examples of forests/groves with understory vegetation in addition to moss, like small complimentary plants (ferns, small leaved shrubs), rocks or even a path or trial. I guess this would be more Penjing in design but was just wondering?
Hi Graham, Good question. All of the grove plantings I’m familiar with are fairly conservative – soil and moss for top-dressing. It’s far more common to see additional elements in rock plantings, saikei, and penjing.
It would be nice to see a forest with additional elements – I’ll keep on the lookout for them. My guess is that these elements may look out of scale with many grove plantings. As most groves are “far-view” bonsai, as in, they are miniature representations of full-sized forests, any additional features would have to be fairly small to not look out of scale. I think it would be natural for some stone to show, or maybe really bushy clumps of moss. Additional plants may be harder to harmonize – just as they would be in a pot holding a single tree.
I’ll let the question linger. Because groves are, for so many, the most evocative bonsai, I’m always curious about the nature of their appeal.
Thanks for the note!