Bonsai

I have recently discovered the meditative benefis of creating and tending bonsai trees and landscapes. We are now developing a Bonsai nursery at Cascades Gardens. Here are some notes I have researched from the internet.

“Keeping bonsai is not just about gardening -it is art and spirituality combined with horticultural techniques. Creating bonsai is a challenge and enthusiasts are forever striving for horticultural and aesthetic excellence. A never-ending quest for perfection”. 

Peter Chan- Bonsai Beginners Bible

“Bonsai fulfils the creative urge as no other artform can. My love of nature and of trees is also satisfied by the unique blend of art and horticulture. An idealised recreation of nature is the goal”. 

Harry Tomlinson- Complete book of Bonsai

The practice of pen sai (bonsai) was introduced to Japan in the 12th Century. They believed that cultivating miniature trees and planting them in containers was an art form which was meditative, reflective and a harmonious way to be at one with nature.

The practice of Bonsai became encompassed in the Buddhist philosophy of Zen. To be in tune with Zen there are three virtues required for successful Bonsai horticulture. The first is truth, the second goodness and the third is beauty. Although guided by human hands this should not be obvious to an admirer. Bonsai should also always be planted slightly off center so as not to block the middle point which in Buddhism is believed to be the point where heaven and earth meet. Following these principles, the trees should have a significant impact on the state of the artist. The daily care for the Bonsai should become a meditation and reflective time for the practitioner.

Derived from the Buddhist teachings is the concept of wabi-sabi. This is centred around transience and imperfection. Through the art of Bonsai, the respect for this philosophy can be expressed. Trees are displayed in all seasons, garnering admiration when bare as well as blooming. Features such as deadwood highlight both the passage of time and imperfection.

Some practitioners derive a special therapeutic benefit which comes from the innate peace and tranquillity that working with bonsai imparts. Like yoga and Tai chi bonsai are said to have a calming influence on the mind and spirit, and they can help relieve the stresses of today’s busy world. Bonsai, in general, symbolise harmony, peace, balance and all that is good in nature.