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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

Understanding Gardening Vocabulary – Part 6

No beating around the bush this month (no pun intended!), let’s get straight into it.

To read through each of the individual articles in more detail, here you can access the entire series:
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 1 (January)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 2 (February)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 3 (March)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 4 (April)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 5 (May)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 6 (June)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 7 (July)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 8 (August)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 9 (September)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 10 (October)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 11 (November)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 1
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 2

The four words this month are Bonsai, Dwarf, Hybrid & Topiary.

Bonsai – The art of bonsai is a very fun one, but one that requires much persistence and patience. Basically, bonsai is a Japanese technique to grow small or dwarf (see below) varieties of trees in small pots or containers. Some of the main varieties used with the bonsai technique are pine, maple and juniper trees. The aim of bonsai is to train the plant into a decorative form, decided by the owner. This is achieved by both tying the growing stems to very small metal or wooden stakes and by limiting the ability of the trees roots to grow by having it in a small pot. Every year or two the plant is removed from its pot, the roots are pruned and it is placed into a slightly larger pot or container. I myself got into bonsai for a while but it is not a short term commitment and requires much maintenance in trimming and pruning as the plant grows.

Dwarf – I defined the term bonsai before the term dwarf because these two words can be confused quite easily. This is because, as you are probably realising, some gardening words carry a multitude of meanings. However the term dwarf, as confusing as it can be, basically describes itself. A dwarf plant is basically a form or variety of plan that is smaller than another form of the plant. Sometimes this is achieved through a process like bonsai, meaning the plant has the same genetic make-up as other plants of the species, other times a dwarf plant is a variety or species that has been bred to specifically grow as a smaller plant without the need to limit its growth manually. See ‘hybrid’ below for further explanation.

Hybrid – A hybrid is a plant produced by combining two plants together, which is achieved by grafting, a term I defined in the April edition of this series. This is done to produce a plant with a mix of characteristics from the two parent plants. Usually the two plants that are combined are of the same species or genus because this is the best way to get a successful mix. This is one way a dwarf variety can be developed.

Topiary – This is another word to describe the process of clipping, trimming and training trees into a specific shape. The art or training a bonsai plant is a form of the art of topiary, on a small scale. However topiary can also be used on larger plants or shrubs. When you walk around and see delicately shapes trees or hedges, that is a form of topiary.

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