Bonsai - The art of cultivating miniature trees
Bonsai is the art of dwarfing trees and developing them into an aesthetically appealing shape by growing, pruning and training them in containers. This art is slowly becoming popular in Bangalore with more and more people taking it up as a hobby.
Nurturing bonsai is becoming a popular hobby in Bangalore. Bonsai trees are increasingly finding a place in many homes as they simulate a lush ambience. The passion for the hobby has egged on many in the city to meticulously tend, prune and wire the miniature trees.
“Bonsai is the art of cultivating miniature trees. The banyan tree that naturally grows many meters tall, is the most typical plant used for bonsai, but many other tree species can be used. Bonsai skills include the knowledge of when and how much to cut the roots, how much fertilizer and water is ideal, and which branches should be pruned to give the plant an aesthetic look,” Says Kirana Ravikumar, a bonsai expert.
Veena Nanda, who runs the Sunshine’s Garden Boutique, regularly conducts bonsai workshops in Bangalore. She says “Bonsai is an ancient Asian gardening art. It involves stunting the growth of a tree to obtain a miniature version. Perfecting the art of growing bonsai trees usually requires years of practice. However with a little effort and patience, you can grow a bonsai in a year,”
Bonsai is assumed to have originated in China around the year 200 A.D. It is said to have been developed by the Chinese healers who had to transport medicinal herbs and plants over great distances to attend to people who were ill or injured. The healers had to make sure the plants stayed fresh and did not lose their potency. Since they could not transport large trees wherever they went, the healers began to devise ways to shrink the plants and still keep them healthy.
Explaining the process, Kirana says “Bonsai is done mostly by manipulating the trunks and branches through pruning and wiring. Anyone can learn how to do this with a few hours of basic instruction from a teacher. Of course, advanced skills are honed over a period of a lifetime, and the more your practice, the more you will learn. The most important things are that it must be pruned, repotted and shaped well,”
Veena conducts weekday and weekend workshops, these sessions usually last for two – three hours, she says “Bonsai is 90% art and 10% horticulture. It is quite easy to learn the art, but it is more to do with the effort you put in. In my workshops I cover all the basics of Bonsai. In a four-day workshop, I start with theory sessions and then there is a demo on the second day. And the third and fourth day is completely practicals. Also we provide all the pots and materials required,”
There are many people who believe that growing a bonsai tree will bring bad luck as they believe that trees are starved of its required nutrients in order to stunt its growth. “All these fears are baseless. The pruning process does not damage the tree's ability to receive nourishment from the soil. Also, a bonsai tree is watered more often than a regular-sized tree to ensure that it receives its share of nutrients,” explains Kirana.
Also Veena is nurturing a 35 -40 years old Ficus and Banyan Bonsai, “As the tree matures, it fetches a good price. But people mostly do it out of passion and not for money,” adds Veena.
Weekday Bonsai Workshop starts on October 5, Veena charges Rs. 1,500 for a 4-day course. To know more log on to www.sunshinesgardenboutique.com