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Since bonsai is my main hobby and passion, I seem to always have my eyes peeled for everyday items that would lend themselves to bonsai.  Recently, Favorite Minion and I went on a little excursion to Jacksonville, Florida and while there visited the local Ikea.  This is the most amazing store and if you ever have the chance to go to one, do it. They have almost anything for the household you can imagine and the prices are very reasonable, if not, down right cheap!

While there, I found a couple of items that are very useful (to me) for bonsai.  First up are these:
Ikea calls them "Toga".  Ikea is a Swedish store and Toga may have meaning as to its actual use.  That is part of the fun of going to the store, at least for me and Favorite Minion, trying to pronounce the names of the products or coming up with a silly "Americanized" pronounciation.  These are actually placemats for your table made up of various natural materials.  Here is one of them rolled out:
Nice, huh?  You are probably wondering what this has to do with bonsai, right?  Well if you have a budget for your hobby, like me, sometimes you have to be creative.  When you are ready to display your tree in a show, you will most likely need a stand or some sort of decorative accessory to set the pot on.  I have found that wooden display stands, especially the larger ones, are kinda expensive.  These placemats, when rolled out, make an attractive way to display your tree.  Like this:
My next find was these Almhults.  What the heck is an almhult, LOL?  I assume it means cutting board in Sweden.  These are nice and thick, a decent size, and a steal at $1.99.
Use for Bonsai?  Of course!  A popular technique for developing the nebari and a nice flat set of roots is to plant your tree on a board or tile.  If you want to read more about this technique, just click here.  I prefer to use the plastic cutting board because they are a lot easier to drill than a tile and also won't rot like a board, which makes them reusable.
Cool, huh?  So, remember the next time that you are out shopping to be sure that you have your "Bonsai Goggles" on, you never know what you might come across.
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