The Art and Sci of Bonsai


As a kid, I have always been fascinated with plants, animals, and nature in general. Whenever I get to reminisce my childhood days, I smile recalling those weekends I get to do some gardening with my grandmother. My love and appreciation of greenery were major influences by my lola. How I enjoyed seeing a flower bloom or when one of our fruit-bearing trees start to produce lots of fruits.

As I grew older, I find myself enjoying even more when I have encounter with nature through mountain hikes, and strolling in parks and gardens. Later on, I have been particularly interested in bonsai, miniature trees I often see in Japanese parks in television or as indoor displays in some household.

Baguio City happens to hold a yearly exhibit of bonsai plants during the Panagbenga (Flower Festival) season. So when a good friend of mine invited me to see this year’s bonsai exhibit, I didn’t second guess myself in visiting it.

A bit of history: Bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in small containers. People who are into it also believe that besides being an art, growing bonsai involves science. The term bonsai comes from two words – “bon” meaning tray or low-sided pot and “sai” meaning plantings. I have read that while bonsai is emblematically Japanese, the art was said to have originally developed in China, other books claim it is from India, which was only adopted later on by the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan.

They say that the main aim of bonsai cultivation is the creation of miniature trees with a look of age in their overall appearance that includes its shapes, proportions, and details. The typical bonsai is a single, dwarfed tree in a small container. However, it has the appearance of a mature tree, but not of an entirely regular one. A bonsai artist or designer has worked on the tree’s shape and surfaces in order to improve the tree’s apparent age, and also to give it a distinct “facade” from which it is meant to be seen and noticed.

My visit to the Bonsai Exhibit gave me a broader perspective on bonsai, and a bigger love and appreciation not only to the miniature trees but also to the artists behind these aesthetically pleasing plants. It sure isn’t easy to come up with such artistry since by the looks of it, growing bonsai seems to require some rigorous horticultural practices and techniques.

I still have a lot of things to learn about bonsai. I am sure there is more to a bonsai than a fruitful fusion of art and science. While I was looking at the bonsai plants on display at the exhibit, it came to my senses that each one is unique; some of them even invites individual thinking – allowing you to interpret beyond the physical design itself. It is like listening to a poem, only that you are staring at it.


If you are interested in bonsai, you could visit the Baguio Bonsai Exhibit located at the Rose Garden, Burnham Park, Baguio City. There is a Php20.00 entrance fee that serves as a help to the bonsai artists whose masterpieces are displayed in the said exhibit. This exhibit will run until the 3rd of March 2019. In case you have any questions about these miniature trees, and the exhibit is over, you can contact the following from the Baguio – Benguet Bonsai Club. Ghaile Defensor – 0945 892 1375; Earl Candelario – 0917 395 4148; or Kim Fabro – 0917 985 2373.

The exhibit also showcases the following, should you be interested: Suiseki, the Japanese art of stone appreciation, which are small naturally occurring or shaped rocks that are traditionally appreciated; some artificial bonsai using bonsai wires; and some aquascapes too.

These are photos of some artificial bonsai and suiseki.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.


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