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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Nature in miniature

It has always been my dream to write a book about the art of Bonsai,the Indian way. Bonsai is the centuries-old Japanese art of growing miniature trees in shallow pots.

Written by Shalini Rai |
July 16, 2009 2:24:42 am

It has always been my dream to write a book about the art of Bonsai,the Indian way. Bonsai is the centuries-old Japanese art of growing miniature trees in shallow pots. Over these last three decades,I have practiced the art of Bonsai and my book Basin Bonsai,The Indian Way is a culmination of these experiences,” says Mangala Rao-Nilangekar,who has recently authored her maiden book.

Nilangekar says Bonsai simulates nature in a condensed form and is more than just about pruning,shaping and other technical aspects behind it. “In the beginning,fascination for nature and love for the greens inspired me to take up gardening. Over the years,I experimented with various forms of gardening,landscaping,dish gardening and Ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arrangement). But it is Bonsai which captures the true essence of nature,” she adds.

Since Bonsai is a foreign art,the expert says she learnt it mostly from Japanese books. “With experience,I felt that these techniques needed to be modified to suit the Indian environment. A strong urge to share this experience with others who would benefit from it encouraged me to write this book,” she informs. “Secondly,I wanted this book to be a do-it-yourself guide to help anyone who would want to take up this art but does not have access to training under an experienced Bonsai teacher,” adds Nilangekar.

The bonsai expert says using gardening techniques,plants are shaped and raised as miniature tree in shallow ceramic pots. “The shaping of the plant is a long procedure. The trick is to allow a tree to grow vigorous and healthy,then apply skilled craftsmanship on this grown up plant and thereafter,create an illusion of an aged tree in a tiny form. It is definitely not about dwarfing or stunting the growth of a tree,” informs Nilangekar. “The same sound horticulture techniques like cutting,pruning and wiring of the branches,routinely used by any gardener,are used to create a Bonsai masterpiece. Like any other potted plant,bonsais are frequently root pruned; this is done to stimulate growth and not retard it. Pruning encourages growth of fine roots,which absorb more nutrition. Bonsai is not a genetically-modified plant. No chemical or hormonal treatment is given to retain its size. It is never kept starved,” she clarifies.

“With this book,I hope to provide easy tips to novices about selecting the right plant,the right material commonly found in India and create a beautiful bonsai,” says Nilangekar. “The book also outlines,in detail,the basic bonsai techniques like shaping methods,bonsai styles,horticultural requirements,necessary tools,special soil and use of fertilisers,” she adds.

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