Over 150 exhibits featured at bonsai show

Published September 28, 2014
A nineteen-year-old citrus plant at the bonsai show. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A nineteen-year-old citrus plant at the bonsai show. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: “Bonsai are ordinary plants that you transform into an art, a thing of beauty. But the exhibit must never show the intervention of humans,” says Dr Saeed Faiyaz Khan, a bonsai lover and founding member of the Pakistan Bonsai Society whose exhibition of miniature plants is under way at Zamzama Park.

The show featuring more than 150 plants and trees has been organised in collaboration with Defence Housing Authority.

Mini or mame bonsai on display. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Mini or mame bonsai on display. Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Lined in rows, the miniature plants were all of indigenous species except one Chinese palm. The local varieties included various species of the Ficus family (retusa, benjamina, jingsing, infectoria commonly called peepal), carmona (a genus of flowering plants), bougainvillea, jade, tamarind, manila tamarind (jungle jalebi) and dum dum.

There was 14-year-old baobab, a sacred South African species, a 19-year-old Chinese citrus miniature tree full of red fruit and 15-year-old dum dum that was grown in a way to have a full size canopy.

A variegated dum dum said to be 32 years old.
A variegated dum dum said to be 32 years old.

“Dum dum plant naturally grows in a broom style but we are used to growing it in the form of a hedge,” explains Dr Khan, who conducts regular classes for bonsai enthusiasts.

One eye-catching display at the show was of a 32-year-old variegated dum dum with off-white and green leaves.

A display of mini or mame bonsai; a jade plant grown in a cascade style.
A display of mini or mame bonsai; a jade plant grown in a cascade style.

“It was 10 years old when I bought it from a nursery and then I trained for four years. Now it has come to this size and shape. It’s my most favourite bonsai. It’s priceless,” Dr Khan says proudly.

There was also a bougainvillea display in full bloom; the plant was about 18 years old. Lined in a corner were mini or mame bonsai that were displayed in cascade, informal upright, formal, flat-top and raft styles.

Someone had grown a Ficus jingsing plants in a group to make it appear like a forest.

“They all are separate plants, arranged together. The key is to make every trunk visible to the viewer,” says Dr Khan who declares an Ulmus species, a Chinese palm, the best bonsai tree of the show.

“I along with my friend bought 20 plants of the same species for Rs100,000 eight years ago. All died, except three. Most of the Chinese species couldn’t acclimatise to our weather conditions,” he explains.

Giving some tips on how to make a bonsai, Dr Khan says the source material is usually a fully grown plant or tree that was ‘brutally’ chopped, pruned and re-potted countless times or acquired from an adult plant species or seed.

“The old plant should have a thick trunk, multiple branches and in a state of good health. Plants with small leaves are preferred as they are easily to manage,” he says.

Sunday is the last day of the show that will be open from 4pm till 9pm.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2014

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