Bonsai, lit. plantings in tray, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot and sai, a planting or plantings,  is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has its own aesthetics and terminology.

“Bonsai” is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai. A “bon” is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots. This article focuses on bonsai as defined in the Japanese tradition.

I visited an exhibition of Bonsai trees at Kirstenbosch recently.

IMG_6092IMG_6091IMG_6094    Ficus natalensis/ Natal Wild Fig/ Natal-vy  Age : 60 yearsIMG_6098Monkey Thorn/  Apiesdoring / Acacia galpinii Age: 19 yearsIMG_6102Ficus natalensis Natal Wild Fig/ Natal-vy  Age : 50 year

IMG_6104Ficus natalensis Natal Wild Fig/ Natal-vy  Age : 40 years

The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food, for medicine, or for creating landscapes. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.

 Ailsa’s Travel Theme :Trees

12 thoughts on “Bonsai

  1. These bonsais are wonderful! There is a bonsai ‘nursery’ (I’m not sure what the proper name is) in the Cape that I’ve visited a couple of times – perhaps it is near Hout Bay? I’ll have to check with Piet, I am sure he will remember the town.
    I try to avoid linking to my stories in comments but thought you might like to read this one if you haven’t already:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you El, There are a few in Cape Town and one in Hout Bay too! I am so excited because we have booked to go to a Three-Hour Beginner’s Bonsai Course, Including a Small Bonsai in June!


      1. The one we went to was opposite a kind of squatter camp…quite a contrast to the beautiful garden and displays at the bonsai place.
        A Bonsai course – that IS exciting! Lucky you!
        I hope you’ll be posting some pictures? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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