you imagine a tree aged 20 years but hardly 3 feet high?
And a dwarf citrus plant bearing fruits? Well, these
formed a part of the rare ensemble of Bonsais by Mangala
Mangala Rao, who has been training Bonsai lovers since
1986, has taken a Masters Degree in Advanced Study in
the Art of Bonsai from Indo Japanese Association, Mumbai.
She displayed her Bonsai collection under the theme
"Mystique Miniatures" at the ITC Kakatiya Sheraton in
the city. The display included more than 100 Bonsais
of tropical trees, shrubs and fruits and flower plants.
Rao's exhibits included Bonsai nurtured as individuals,
Bonsai on rocks and Bonsai in landscape. Some of the
miniatures like Ficus Nuda, Tamarindus Indica and
Fortica Apra are more than two decades old.
There were also Manikara Zapota, Citrus, Bambusa,
bladed leaved Yucca, Juni Perus Prostrata (grown
on rocks) and Pitho Lolobium (group Bonsai).
But what exactly is a Bonsai?
The art of Bonsai can be characterised as the technique
of limiting the growth of shrubs and trees and keeping
them amazingly small. A bonsai does not have to be old
to be good. It is quite possible to treat a delightful
little tree within a short period. A bonsai has to be
regularly pruned and cut to keep it small.
An ardent lover of Bonsai, Mangala Rao says that Bonsai
cultivation is a fascinating hobby. Bonsai can be grown
easily on small balconies of apartment buildings. "One
can enjoy nature's drama even in narrow spaces between
densely placed concrete buildings," she says.
Some of the exhibits were those of trees that only
thrive in a cold climate. How does the bonsai of such
a tree survive in a hot, alien environment? "Special
care has to be taken to
make the tree grow in a different environment,"
says Mangala Rao "I had to use fridge-water and ice
cubes to grow Bauhinia, a cold climate plant."
Many people claim that the knotted, twisted trunks
are a testimony to the torture undergone by the trees.
Bonsai enthusiasts contend that these very features
symbolise qualities to withstand difficulties in order
to maintain continuity and preserve tradition. Bonsais
live to a great age indicating that they receive best
treatment and care than their normal-sized counterparts
in the nature.
Rao, with a citation from the World Bonsai Friendship
Federation, has worked with renowned Bonsai masters
like Mr John Naka of USA and Mr Tom Yamamoto
of Japan. She has conducted Ikebana and Bonsai exhibitions
at various places in south India. At present she takes
regular Bonsai classes at Asa Bhanu Japan Center, Hyderabad,
St. Ann's College for Women and School of Agro Agricultural
Society. She is an instructor of Ohara Ikebana, Japan.
And she is ever ready to teach any one who cares for
Address: Mangala Rao, 3-6-458,
5th Street, Himayath Nagar,
Hyderabad 500 029
Phone: 763 3032