Outdoor Bonsai



Outdoor Bonsai



bonsai garden

Bonsai growing in Harry Harrington’s garden in the North-West of England

The images in this article have all been taken on my journeys around the UK to visit fellow enthusiasts gardens as well images of my own gardens. The majority of tree species used for bonsai require that the trees be placed outside all year round. This means that they need to be positioned somewhere where they will be able to receive direct sunlight for at least part of the day, be protected from strong winds that may knock them over or uproot them and be near a watering point as they will require watering 200-300 times every year.

bonsai garden

A view of Harry Harrington’s garden near London, England on a Summers evening.

ficus bonsai

Ficus species bonsai brought outside for the Summer months in London.

Living in a temperate climate here in the UK, any tropical or subtropical species bonsai require that they are housed indoors or in a heated greenhouse from Autumn to Spring (the exact timing dependent on their exact frost-hardiness).

However, all fully hardy bonsai are kept outside all year round with no protection from the elements unless temperatures drop below -10ºC. Allowing your frost hardy bonsai to be exposed to the seasons allows them to grow naturally as they would in the ground and encourages much healthier and more vigorous growth.

bonsai winter

Harry Harrington’s frost-hardy bonsai covered in a layer of snow during the Winter.

The ideal position for your bonsai is for them to be kept off the ground on wooden benches or monkey poles, and each bonsai is placed in a position where it receives the amount of sunlight needed for healthy growth.

As some bonsai such as Pines require at least 8 hours direct sunlight whilst some bonsai such as Hawthorn or Japanese Maple will tolerate as little as 3 hours direct sunlight, careful observation of the light levels around the garden is necessary. Similarly, consideration of the prevailing winds should be made. Placing a bonsai in an area of the garden that is liable to be hit from the full force strong winds could result in a favourite bonsai (and its pot) being discovered lying in pieces on the ground after a night of heavy storms.

Other considerations for bonsai placement should include more domestic concerns such as the security of prized specimens, footballs from neighbouring properties and the local cat, squirrel, bird, rabbit and deer populations that can all have a terrible habit of damaging bonsai!

bonsai london

A large bonsai collection in Greenford, England

bonsai london

A large bonsai collection in Greenford, England

Finally, when you have a living work of art such as a prized bonsai, it is pleasing to be able to see it in all of its glory out in the garden and the aesthetic value of careful placement of a tree within a garden is worth considering.

autumn bonsai

Autumn colours in the garden of Harry Harrington.

Following the changes in your bonsai as they go through the seasons is always a delight; from the arrival of the bright new buds on bare branches in Spring to the many green hues of the leaves in Summer to the vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves in the Autumn. And then Winter comes and the fine tracery of bare branches around the gnarled and aged trunk of a bonsai can be enjoyed for 4 months as each bonsai withstands the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them.

roof-top garden

A roof-top garden in central London, England

roof-top garden in Central London

A roof-top garden in Central London, England

Bonsai and Koi

Bonsai and Koi in a garden near Luton, England

bonsai garden

Bonsai displayed in a garden in Surrey, England

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August 16, 2022