Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

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Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

Post  Greg on Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:19 pm

Bonsai
By Patricia Jordan

Creating a Bonsai tree can take years and years. PATRICIA JORDAN attends a masterclass for a crash course

IT IS NOT often in Cyprus that a Masterclass is held, so to have had the chance to witness a real Craft Master at work was a unique opportunity. Peter Chen, Chinese but born in India and owner of the prestigious Herons Bonsai Nursery in Surrey, England, was in Cyprus recently to talk about his work and share his enthusiasm for Bonsai with like-minded people.

Winner of 20 Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, he has written five books on Bonsai, some of which have been translated in languages other than English. He gives lectures frequently, has made videos on the subject and appeared on British TV. Hosted by Dr. Stavros Eleftheriou, himself a Bonsai enthusiast, Peter spoke in great detail to a large audience of young and old, of the merits of owning such wonderful living sculptures and eventually being able to create one’s own.

Bonsai translates from the Chinese Bon meaning Pot and Sai meaning Tree but not every tree in a pot is a Bonsai. A Bonsai is an artistic form of a miniaturised fully-grown living tree in a container. Some of the trees Chen talked about were over 150 years old and likely to outlive their current owners! They can live up to 500 years and in China and Japan some have been recorded as being around for 1,000 years and command prices in the millions of dollars.

How can they live so long? Chen puts this down to the constant care and attention that they receive with root pruning, soil changing, feeding and, most importantly, light and watering. They should be healthy and have a ‘twiggy’ structure with wonderful fresh foliage in season, which is achieved by regular pruning. Chen suggests that in our climate Bonsai may need to be watered several times a day during the summer. Never let the tree ‘stand’ in saucers of water, rather let it flow through the pot and keep it in a shaded place until the weather cools down.

He warned that we shouldn’t be buying speciality Bonsai seeds as in reality there are no such things. All trees are grown from seeds. In fact he sows something like 500 maple seeds every spring in his nursery, which he grows on into young saplings before they start along the road to becoming Bonsais. Maples, with their vibrant autumn colourings, are one of the favoured trees for Bonsai enthusiasts to work with. Equally, all manners of pines, because their natural structure is uncomplicated and the finished result is very pleasing to the eye. Each year Peter travels to Japan to buy young Bonsais, shipping them back to the UK in refrigerated containers. The Dutch, grand masters themselves in the European Horticultural Industry, have started exporting Japanese Bonsai around Europe and there are some aged ones in garden centres in Cyprus already.

During his stay in Cyprus, Chen visited the Troodos and also Cape Greco and while he thought the latter was a wonderful place with all the spring flowers bursting into bloom, he admired greatly the vast pines growing on the windswept Troodos slopes and advised us to look at them in their native habitat before choosing a tree to make into a Bonsai sculpture. Pines, Prunus, Junipers and Cedar trees in pots are available for the amateur to make a start and even shrubs like Lantana, Pyracantha and Rosemary can be trained into shape. Bougainvillea is a particular favourite of his. Flowering trees such as Wisteria, with its wonderful pendulous flowers resembling cascading waterfalls, make good subjects with the added bonus of miniaturised flowers and fruit later on and all in scale. There are between forty and fifty shapes, all with meaningful names, into which you can train your trees but obviously you have to choose one that is suitable for the type of tree you have.

For the beginner he suggested looking around in a garden centre for a tree or shrub with an interesting trunk, which is the main stem. This would be the focal point of the Bonsai and everything else would revolve around that feature. The first step would be to take the plant out of the pot and scrape away most of the soil around the roots, some of which may need to be pruned at this point. Then have a good look at the plant and see how best it would feature in a shallow pot by turning it round and round. Most proper Bonsai pots are shallow and made of ceramic material. A more interesting tree will be achieved if you are able to twist the trunk into an ‘S’ shape and you may have to spend some time doing this and wiring it with strong copper Bonsai wire.

In the short time available to him, Chen was able to show us how to go about creating the structure of various plants he had with him. It would normally take up to a day to achieve this but he managed to create a very ordinary Cupressus into the beginnings of a wonderful Bonsai in 20 minutes. When asked if it was a restful occupation he suggested that as the origins of Bonsai were steeped in Buddhism when the monks grew plants and gardens as part of their religion, it did exude a certain peace and tranquillity. Much patience was also required as it could take up to five years before a fine Bonsai specimen is achieved. Tap into Chen’s wonderful Heron Nursery website at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] it’s well worth a look.

If you would like to know more about this fascinating hobby then you should get in touch with Stavros Eleftheriou who is keen to start a Bonsai Club here and to share his enthusiasm with others email bonsaicyprus @gmail.com



Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2005

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Re: Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

Post  stavros on Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:31 pm

Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
this happened a few years back, before i met with you guys


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Re: Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

Post  Greg on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:03 pm

stavros wrote: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
this happened a few years back, before i met with you guys


Exactly and probably the only article written ever for bonsai in Cyprus Sad

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Re: Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

Post  stavros on Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:11 am

Greg wrote:
stavros wrote: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
this happened a few years back, before i met with you guys


Exactly and probably the only article written ever for bonsai in Cyprus Sad


there is another article in greek....i will upload it if i find it
it was written about the same time as the english one

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Re: Bonsai Article, Cyprus Mail 2005

Post  Savvas P. on Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:00 pm

On the Cyprus Mail re Stavro or in cyprus newspaper?

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