Where Are The Innovations?by Will Heath
Somewhere, long ago, maybe someone had the brilliant idea to put a plant into a pot of sorts so that the healing herb would be close at hand and would not need to be searched for when needed. Maybe instead, a plant was found growing out of a rock and the rock was carried home with its attached growth, where it no doubt was quite a conversation piece until it died. Maybe potted plants were invented as a way simply to keep plants alive during a journey.
This went on for many years and with many failures until the correct soil, watering, and care was finally mastered. These plants in pots were at first no doubt just for the convenience of being able to pull a leaf off here and there for tea or healing. Maybe plants were first potted in order to transport the plants over long distances.
Regardless of how plants were first introduced to pots, eventually someone started picking creatively and some shapes that were pleasing were created. Naturally, trimming and pruning for eye appeal soon followed and became the clip and grow method. The simple act of keeping a plant alive turned into a decoration.
Rough pots turned to highly finished works of art and the styles of what we now know as bonsai were defined. Rules were made, schools were formed and the art of bonsai was created.
Then along came ways to achieve this art, tools and techniques unheard of before like wire, concave cutters, soiless mixes, grafting, trunk chops, air layering etc were invented and expanded the art form.
And then, silence.
It would seem that we have come to a standstill, and the innovations have stopped. Is there nothing else to learn? Are there no other undiscovered techniques? Is there now so much to learn that there is no time left to experiment, to invent? Will we have to wait centuries to see any changes at all in the art? Will we suffer from stagnation?