Say hello to my little friend.

That’s my bonsai plant. I’ve had it for three and a half months. It’s an azalea.

I know what you’re thinking: “But that’s not the type of plant Mr. Miyagi had. How come that’s a bonsai?”

Well, if you must ask, turns out bonsai is the practice, not the plant. Who knew?

Horticulturists knew, but they don’t count.

For the last few months, I’ve basically been trying to keep it alive after I was given a small azalea that I promptly hacked the roots of to place in the bonsai pot they gave me. There’s no part of me that didn’t cringe as I was hacking up the roots. Instructions given to me were to leave the plant alone for weeks if not months to make sure it didn’t get too stressed.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then I noticed something. It was getting a lot of new little growth. Looks like my bonsai survived the first assault. Now we needed to turn to true shaping and care of the plant. This required more knowledge than I had, so I went looking for a book (shocker for the someone who authors a book review blog).

Surprisingly, there were a lot of options, though most seemed to go beyond the scope I needed, so I went for cheap. And mostly I wasn’t disappointed. When you can easily finish a book in under an hour, you’re not going to rave about it, but Bonsai: A Beginniner’s Guide worked out fine. It gave me an idea of what to look for (and also indicated that me not fertilizing the plant monthly was actually problematic; whoops).

In the book, you get a brief history of bonsai, specifics related to 10 common types of bonsai, and then some general maintenance. All in all, that’s basically what I wanted. Easy peasy.

If you’re looking to start bonsai and don’t want to drop 30 bucks for a book (or 100), this isn’t a bad way to go as far as I can tell.