Bloomberg: Forget Meditation Apps. I’m Binge-Watching These Bonsai Videos

Ryan Neil’s tutorials serve up screen time that really satisfies.

"Ryan Neil talks about trees as if they are a source of ancient metaphysical power. He doesn’t grow them; he “engages” with them. He talks about “utilizing” them. He’s not a destination man. This is all about the journey.

Operating out of St. Helens, Ore., Neil is the founder of Bonsai Mirai. The company sells a few trees on request, but its primary mission is to service those who already participate in the 800-year-old Japanese art of carefully guiding tiny trunks, by pruning and training, to grow into the wizened old trees they were meant to be.

On its site, there’s a $72 pair of concave cutters for trimming your specimen, next to a $3,285 ceramic pot that mimics a pocked slab of raw basalt. The company can pack up and move a bonsai with all the precaution of transporting a painting, and it offers a boarding program in case you need someone to plant-sit your prized Rocky Mountain juniper while you’re away.

But the best service it provides are Neil’s oddly compelling, members-only, how-to videos, available via subscription (from $18 a month). On camera, Neil looks like a friendly neighbor with big arms and short-cropped, silvering hair, the sort of slightly bro’d-out guy with whom you might swap home-brewing tips. He has the charisma of a motivational speaker, though instead of teaching you how to create a growth mindset, he breezily discusses “vascular productivity”—that is, the development of a tree’s stems and branches—and “foliar mass,” or how many leaves and needles it has."

Read the full feature on Bloomberg here.