I've been challenged by a book I read recently.
There was a chapter on the subject of having a Green Thumb and the author said one of his professors in college told the class there's no such thing as a green thumb. She said there is only knowledge and ignorance.
Her point is well taken. I had no idea bonsai would provide me with the kind of education in Nature I've gotten so far. Soil composition, Root structure, Bark Health, Pruning, Leaf Pruning etc. There's a lot to know. And in Bonsai, what you don't know won't kill you, but it'll sure kill your plants.
I don't want to sound like I've arrived here, I mean, I killed a grocery store Bonsai this year. (It was a crapulant thing anyway, I tell myself it committed suicide.)
But, the part of the education I'm happiest about so far; the reason the knowing has become so important, is that it's helping me develop empathy. The kind that can sidle up next to a plant and ask "Is this plant happy?"
It sounds a bit odd to think that way maybe, but I've heard some old, old gardeners say this sort of thing on the Science Channel, in books and elsewhere. And this is where I hope to get. That sense of trying to get into the tree's head. Or heart. Pick an organ.
In his masterful study of the Psychology of Evil, "People of the Lie", M. Scott Peck writes that one of the defining characteristics of Evil is its inability to feel empathy for others. I've pondered this long and hard, and my experience bears it out.
My Ex-wife comes to mind... But moreso, Bonsai.
In themÃ¢â‚¬â€I hope anyway, I'm learning how to better care for others. My trees and more than just my trees. I think that's the sort of Green Thumb I want to try to develop.