There is something quite mystical about bonsai - miniature trees standing with poise and elegance, creating a landscape for the imagination. A practice in mindfulness, patience, longevity. And appreciation.
Bonsai has been practiced for over a thousand years, and is believed to have originated in China before being embraced and adapted to its current practice in Japan. Indeed, it was the Buddhist monks who became the stewards and masters of bonsai, and it is through their dedicated works across centuries that we enjoy the art of bonsai as we know it today.
Bonsai is a symbol of balance and harmony, and can be seen also as a contemplative tool. In its horticultural sense, bonsai is a series of techniques and practices involving styling and caring for a tree in a small container. The aim is to create a representation of a tree in its natural form, at its most beautiful, in a complimentary planter that works with the scale, proportion and aesthetic of the type of tree being crafted.
Most plants can be used to create a bonsai, though when considering composition, those trees with smaller leaves and thicker trunks seem to work most successfully, especially when starting out.
In our newest workshop - Bonsai for Beginners - we will lead you through the basics of bonsai, with an easy-to-follow step-by-step demonstration led by our Creative Director Chris Saban, who has long practiced this art and is excited to share what he has learned across the years.
'I'm an avid bonsai enthusiast' says Chris. 'I was first introduced to bonsai on a trip to Japan, where I started to explore bonsai, ikebana [Japanese floral design] and kokedama [the art of creating living plant moss balls], and throughout my travels both here and overseas, I've always sought out local examples for inspiration. And they just make me smile.'
Chris began practicing the art of bonsai in the mid-2000s, and continues to care for a small collection. ' When working on bonsai at home, I get a little swept away; I disappear in considering the expression of each tree and imagine what it can become.' This highlights one of the many benefits of practice such as bonsai - settling the mind whilst paying close attention to a miniature version of the natural world.
Whilst you might feel a little nervous at first, like any new skill, with gentle guidance and instruction, and a little practice, you'll feel comfortable and confident in beginning your bonsai journey.
Held at Merchant & Green in our new Bourke Street studio in Redfern, you'll be surrounded by plants, and led through the process in our characteristic interactive and relaxing style.
You'll have plenty of time to ask questions, as you work with premium ingredients, including a choice of Asian style ceramic pots, mini trees, potting mix, decorative stones and moss. And of course you'll be working with specialist scissors, yours to keep after the class.
At the end of the session, you will take away your own handcrafted bonsai plant, a Merchant & Green bonsai care card, a memorable experience, and the knowledge and skills enabling you to create more bonsai. And of course, our team are only a visit away if you have any questions or need a little advice.
These little trees can live for many years, bring boundless joy and are relatively easy to maintain; like caring for any plant, paying attention to their needs for sunlight, water and nutrition will lead to optimal health, as will their position in your home or office.
We're confident that once you begin this practice, it will become a part of your home and your heart.