Daily Archives: June 16, 2008

Q: How is a bonsai tree like a pet turtle?

A: It is sometimes hard to tell if they are dead or alive.

Live turtle When I was a kid my brother and I had a pet turtle like the one to the left. It lived in a tank on my dresser in a shallow bowl in the bedroom we shared. We took turns feeding it. I don’t remember what it ate. Probably turtle chow.

Anyway, at one point I noticed that it liked to hang out on a particular rock. It always seemed to be there, no matter what time of day. I feared the worst, but when I brought up the turtle’s rock favoritism with my mom she said it was probably hibernating or at least slowing down since it was winter. After a few weeks the turtle bowl began to stink, my mom and brother agreed that the turtle was dead, especially after they noticed it’s eyes were missing. We may have had a funeral for it or maybe we just flushed it down the toilet. All I remember is thinking that a dead thing had been in my room for a month.

Ok, flash forward about 40 years. My daughter has been asking us for a bonsai tree for a few years and we happened to be at the National Arboretum during their annual bonsai festival and sale. We bought her a Fukien Tea Tree that was just about to bloom. The woman that sold it to us said it needed to be constantly moist and in full sun.

Well, we’re not so good with easy plants — after all we killed a perfectly healthy and huge jade tree and a 6 foot tall cactus simply by letting them be outside for a while.

So, remembering that, Clare tried to remember to keep the soil moist. I tried to remember to put the tree in full sun. But we have cats that think that all plants in the house are a tasty new snack, so we also had to remember to put the tree somewhere the cats couldn’t reach.

Then there was the day that we left it in the south facing window for 8 hours. It gets really hot in the south facing window. Especially when someone lowers the shade on the other side of the plant.

So you decide. Is the Fukien Tea Tree on the right, above dead or is there still hope? (the left is a photo taken shortly after we bought it.)

Aren’t you proud I didn’t comment on the name of the tree?