Living, green works of art at Manggha

Bonsai, the Japanese art of growing miniature trees in shallow containers, has found many enthusiasts in Poland in recent years. Krakow’s Manggha Center of Japanese Art and Technology, which has hosted meetings of the Polish Bonsai Club since the club’s foundation in 1998, will open its doors for the 13th Bonsai Exhibition between September 25-30.

The art of bonsai came to Japan in the 13th Century from China – same as Buddhist scripture and tea. While neglected in its homeland, bonsai flourished in the insular country, becoming one of its symbols for the outside world.

The exhibition features dozens of techniques, including root and crown pruning and wiring, which are used to create green masterpieces ranging in height from just a few centimeters to as much as one meter. The word ‘bonsai’ itself means shallow tray plant (“bon” – shallow tray, “sai” – plant). The container in which a plant grows also influences its shape. All of these various measures bring about the dwarfing of plant species that would grow into large trees under normal circumstances. However, if these techniques are used improperly, they usually kill the plant.

Through the centuries, many schools of bonsai have developed in Japan and masters of this art are highly esteemed. After Japan re-opened to the world in the mid-19th Century, bonsai became known to other countries, gaining ready popularity in America and Europe. Today it is an expanding industry, with dozens of bonsai nurseries growing plants for export.

The exhibition in the Manggha Center (ul. Konopnickiej 26) features trees grown by members of the Polish Bonsai Club. These examples comprise mostly species common in Polish woods like spruce, oak, pine and beech.

On Saturday and Sunday, bonsai enthusiasts will present the techniques of tree shaping to visitors. Presentations and lectures by Bryan Albright, a renowned bonsai designer and author, will start at 11:00.     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *