Bonsai and A Life’s Work: Photos by Guest Blogger Karen Bell

“There is something hopeful and serene about Bonsai!”

That sentence was left by someone on Facebook after they looked at photographer Karen Bell’s images of the bonsai trees in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Here they are, courtesy of Karen.


It might seem odd  to some that I almost included a bonsai gardener in A Life’s Work, seeing how I did include the Milarchs; their work with trees seems the exact opposite of what a bonsai gardener does. But what intrigued me about bonsai was that, with the proper meticulous care, they can outlive the gardener. Bonsai gardening seems to me like an extremely selfless act, and I really liked that. It’s also something that’s done for its own sake; that is, it’s like making a art, it doesn’t exist to edify or solve a problem. It’s there for its beauty.  I liked that a lot, too. I also thought the visuals could be very striking. I enjoy looking at hands engaged with work, and this had the potential for a lot of close-ups of hands at work.

But, it wasn’t to be. Not this time, anyway. Maybe the sequel, which I’m told I should title A Second Life’s Work.