Sunday, January 11, 2009


Bonsai is an art form of coaxing a plant to bend a certain way so that you will have a miniature tree. This manupulation creates an aesthetic tree that takes so long to grow that one has to appreciate the hard work of the Bonsai grower. Bonsai started in Japan.

'Bonsai' is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai (盆栽). The word bonsai is used in the West as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots, but properly should be applied only to container-grown trees following the Japanese tradition.

While I am very enthused about growing plants, I haven't got the patience to grow Bonsai. I used to imagine them as the old fashion foot binding custom of the Chinese girls. The resultant three inch feet got stunted and misshapened. The men favour this and call it the Golden Lotus, but the poor girls cry in pain. I believe in letting the plants grow naturally.

In Singapore, my two very close girl friends SL and K grew a lot of Bonsai. There is a balance, a harmony with the rocks and pot.  After seeing their patient handling of their plants, trimming and training the branches, my attitude towards the Bonsai changed. If memory served me correctly, I did grow two Bonsais which I gave to K when I left for NZ. Even then, I prefered the natural flow of my Bonsais and let them grow wildly and tilted to one side.

Pines and woody trees are good Bonsais. There is a plant the Chinese call SWEE MEI. It has fragrant little white flowers. I was given this plant, and I grew it as a plant and it was wild and free and not tame  as  a Bonsai. My friend SL has it in Malacca/Meleka now. I guess it is not too late and SL's patience might tame it back to a Bonsai.

Just before Christmas, an Auckland Pakeha woman  complained that many of her Bonsais were stolen twice. I was mad for her, if people wanted anything, they should work hard for it. They should not just nick them for themselves.

Most of my best friends love plants. May be that is why we are good friends.

Last night, my friend D showed me his Bonsais. The smaller plant in the pix is 15 years old. The bigger plant is 26 years old. This gives an indication how much patience one needs to grow Bonsai. D gave me a quick tour of his balcony where he had exotic plants. I shall soon post them here.  It was a pity it was raining last night, I could spend more time in his garden. Well, there should be another time.

These two photos and this post are for my friends SL and K.

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