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Bonsai are trees or shrubs, cultivated in pots, so as to remain miniaturized, so that they are much smaller than the specimens of the same plants grown in the ground; a bonsai, however, to be such, in addition to having small dimensions, must also have the bearing of an adult and ancient tree; therefore it is not enough to make our plants remain small, but it is also important that they are raised and pruned so as to remember, in miniature, a large adult tree, with a well developed crown. In addition to individual specimens, the bonsai tradition has also handed down bonsai specimens of the same plants, all placed in the same pot, to form a sort of small wood, also in this case maintaining the appearance of a small real and natural wood.
If preparing and raising a bonsai is an art that is learned over many years, surely preparing a bonsai grove is a very difficult complex operation; these are large compositions that need the care of a real expert, so they are definitely not recommended for the beginner.
To prepare a bonsai grove, first of all it is important to get the suitable plants; traditionally the bonsai groves are made up of plants all belonging to the same species, so as to give a sort of uniformity to the composition; the plants must be in odd numbers, also because the arrangement in the vase is so much more natural and simple, without leaving large areas completely empty. The trees that make up a bonsai grove must have a beautiful, well-developed foliage, and it is advisable to choose specimens that have a crown that starts from about a third or half of the height of the stem, and not from too low. One of the specimens (at least) must be larger than the others, in order to be able to conform a grove that still presents an apex, higher than the rest of the crown.
We can prepare a grove from the prebonsai, but given the difficulty of producing a balanced pot, we generally prefer to cultivate the future grove seedlings separately for several years, bearing in mind the fact that tomorrow these plants will all have to live together; only when the saplings are already real bonsai, can we begin to position them in the same vase.
Traditionally, for i bonsai groves a large and very shallow vase is used, with a border that does not exceed 3-4 cm in height; many of the commercially available bonsai grove pots are blue, and they blend in amazingly with the foliage of conifers. We can also prepare a bonsai grove on a rock, and here the operation of preparing the composition, and the subsequent treatments, are definitely operations for great experts in bonsai.
Preparation of the grove
If we already have plants that can be indicated to prepare a grove, we can put ourselves to work; often the bonsaists use seed-derived plants to prepare a forest, from the same sowing, which are therefore all developed at the outset.
Recall that it is essential to choose one or two plants that will constitute the fulcrum of the grove, to be positioned slightly moved with respect to the center of the vessel; It is important that taller plants do not have many branches in the lower part, because otherwise it becomes difficult to position the other plants in the forest. It is also important to place other plants of different sizes, among which the smaller ones will fill the spaces, so as to also give an effect of greater depth to the vase. We avoid planting too many trees, and we pay close attention to how we position the plants, because over the years we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to move the plants.
If we prepare a grove on a slab of rock, we prepare water-soaked akadama, with which we will prepare a sort of curb, which will act as the edge of the future forest. For a greater scenographic effect, and to give the effect of the undergrowth, it is advisable to cover the soil with moss, which will simulate the grass of the forest.
Bonsai in Boschetto: The plants in the grove
As we said, in general for specimens we choose specimens of conifers, such as pinus penthaphylla, cypresses, yews, junipers; or deciduous plants, such as elms, hornbeams or ginkgo; in fact the choice of plants also depends on the number of specimens we want to place in our grove, because if we limit ourselves to three plants, we can prepare a forest with any essence whatsoever; if instead our wood will contain many specimens, it is important to choose essences that have minute foliage, and root systems that do not require large amounts of space, which is not necessarily present in the vase of a bonsai grove.
Some plants, such as ginkgo, naturally tend to produce basal shoots; sometimes these plants are used to produce the effect of a grove; in substance in these cases it is not a real forest, but of a single specimen raised in a grove, but all the plants insist on the same root system. In this case, this type of bonsai forest is also suitable for people who are not entirely expert, because the cultivation difficulties are decidedly less than a certain number of plants all in the same pot.