Bonsai at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the United States National Arboretum.
Bonsai (help·info) (盆栽 Japanese) (lit. tray plant, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot and sai, a planting or plantings) is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has evolved its own unique aesthetics and terminology.
'Bonsai' is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai (盆栽). A 'bon' is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots, but this article focuses on bonsai as defined in the Japanese tradition.
The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food, for medicine, or for creating yard-size or park-size gardens or landscapes. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.
Krubsack pictured in 1919 sitting in the chair that he grew himself.
John Krubsack (1858-1941) was a banker and naturalist from Embarrass, Wisconsin. He conceived, planted and shaped living trees to create the first known grown chair. He started his chair in 1903 and harvested 11 years later in 1914.
In addition to banking, Krubsack was a prominent naturalist who farmed, made cheese, and landscaped his property long before these were common practice.Read more...
His house was the first in his region to have running water. He also was skilled at piecing together furniture from found branches. He’d scour the local river flats with a yardstick and a saw, looking for just the right shaped piece of blue beech, a hardwood tree with a smooth, wavy bark and a beautiful blue color when varnished. John took his youngest son, Hugo, on these weekend wood-hunting excursions, and it was during one of his trips that the idea first came to him to grow his own chair.