When the average person thinks about caring for a bonsai tree, they probably don’t think about animals. But in fact, many of us need to think about how a variety of animals might impact our little trees.
One that no doubt all bonsai enthusiasts deal with at one time or another is the impact of insects that can weaken or kill a tree. Some of us may consider beneficial insects as well. We might also experience the impact our own pets have, be they cats or dogs… or something else (dog people and cat people can duke it out in the comments below).
My ficus trees, which have to come inside for the winter, have been chewed by the cat at times. I keep most of my trees in the back yard, though, and have had to experiment over the years with the best way to apply organic fertilizer so that my dog can’t eat it and rob the tree of the added nutrients. You can read about just such an experiment here.
I have also written about a helpful beaver in my area – here – who is kind enough to do some pre-bonsai pruning for me. Today I have one more animal to consider. Take a look at this:
Nothing looks too amiss with this little Elaeagnus, but the long branch on the bench to the left was not removed by me. It was grown as a sacrifice branch which extended from the first branch on the left. I had let this branch grow extra long this season to add thickness to the branch. And it worked. In fact, I might have pruned it just about to the same point in the spring, but a garden visitor did this pruning for me over night. NOT COOL!
Elaeagnus can be rather persistent, holding green leaves well into the winter at times. With the unconfirmed thought that green leaves might mean continued metabolic activity, I had left this little guy on the bench in the sun while the bare deciduous trees in my collection were safer in a winter storage spot.
When I stepped outside the other morning, I found this branch on the ground (as you see it above) along with a couple other broken bits. Rather than a clean cut made from shears, it appears some sharp teeth did the work.
The leaves had been tooth-pruned as well. The tree still had many green leaves the night before, and I initially thought they had fallen in a natural autumn cycle. Upon closer inspection, though, they had actually been bitten off. It seems, some furry friend thought these leaves made a nice early winter snack.
But what kind of animal?!
Despite the tiny, shohin size of this tree, my guess is that a deer did the uninvited pruning. What do you think?