Small is beautiful

Small is beautiful

Bonsais require special care as they have meticulously reduced sizes compared to the original, larger ones. With special lamps, statuettes, aquariums and other decor  objects placed alongside, you can enhance the aesthetic appearance of the bonsai corner, suggests Aruna Chandaraju

When Avantika Joshipura and her husband relocated from a small town to a metro, they had to make many adjustments in their lifestyle. Though they quickly and happily got used to their new routine, the one thing that bothered them was the garden they left behind. “We could only afford a two-bedroom flat in Delhi. I missed my  sprawling garden with trees and bushes terribly. Then I discovered bonsai. I attended a one-week course. Today, I have 11 plants around the house. I also create extra plants when I need to give gifts,” explains Avantika.

Long ago, bonsais were exotic objects in our country. And it was hard to spot these miniaturised trees. Today, thanks to people investing more time in doing up their houses, greater awareness of various kinds of green ideas in home and workplace decor, and bonsai tutorials easily available in cities, these scaled-down versions are seen in many homes around India.

Talking to those who rear bonsais in their home, we discovered many features. They require special care as they have meticulously reduced sizes compared to the original, larger ones. Many plants can be trained to be bonsais if you know how to model them into one. Small containers or trays, aluminium and copper wires, sticks (or chopsticks), and special soil are some of the requirements. The soil needs much attention since the bonsai is rooted in a much smaller quantity than the ordinary plant.

Bonsai plants require periodic pruning, tying, bending and repotting. When the bonsai is tiny or a mame, a detailed pruning might need the use of a magnifying glass.

There are some basic bonsai styles but over the years many homemakers and bonsai artists have evolved other styles. With special lamps, statuettes, aquariums and other decor objects placed alongside, you can enhance the aesthetic appearance of the bonsai corner. If you find the initial process tough or complicated, don’t worry––there are bonsai classes going on in virtually every large and small city of India.

Well-known musician and veena artiste Suma Sudhindra has a large bonsai collection in her Malleshwaram home in Bangalore. Fifty-five to be precise. “They have to be watered twice a day and my gardener does that. We have also trained him in bonsai care,” she explains. Despite her busy schedule as a teacher, performer and organiser, Suma takes time off to tend to her plants being very fond of them. “Every two to three months, I sit down with the gardener to trim the plants and also monitor the growth and overall aesthetics of the bonsai collection,” she adds.

For Vijayawada homemaker Vijayasree Sistla, her fondness for bonsai is part of her larger passion for all things small and beautiful. She uses a lot of miniature brass objects besides bonsai plants in her drawing room. Vijayasree is also known for her artistic and thematic bommala koluvu where she arranges her miniature handmade dolls along with some ordered from Kondapalli artists (famed for wooden toys and dolls) and her bonsais to reflect a special episode or destination. So, last time, she created a small replica of the Tirupathi Venkateswara temple and this year the display had episodes from the Ramayana complete with all characters in the form of miniature dolls and in which the bonsais functioned as trees.  

Says she, “I currently have a collection of 20 bonsai plants and six mames (tiny bonsai) at home. I source them from Kerala, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra.” Vijayasree spends about two to three hours everyday in the maintenance of her bonsai plants and says she thoroughly enjoys every minute of it.  
Chennai-based Sreenidhi Armugan has 21 bonsai plants across her sprawling bungalow.

While she has placed most of them wherever she could find space — window ledges and side-tables — six of them are placed in a row in the front verandah where her husband’s clients wait before they are let into his chambers.

“Every now and then, he has clients who are impressed with these plants and end up enquiring from my husband where he got them from. They often acquire bonsai plants for their own home.”

Sreenidhi herself was inspired by another collection. When she visited Mysore a few years ago, she chanced upon the large Kishkindha Moolika Bonsai Garden (at the ashram of Ganapathi Sachidananda Swami). This large garden has over 450 plants and is spread over a large area open to the public.

Bonsai is also found in offices and educational institutions. Whether at the home or workplace, bonsais require special care and attention and the aesthetically made bonsai will enhance any corner.

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