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Bonsai – The Art of the Small

Bonsai – The Art of the Small - Krabi Magazine article

Bonsai, a Japanese term meaning “planted in a container”, is the age-old art form of miniaturizing trees to live and thrive in pots. Although the Japanese have made it world-renowned, it is an art born not from Japanese soil but Chinese.

The artwork began as a means to preserve nature in its most primal form, to maintain trees as they are idealized to be.  The efforts of the art are not only for beauty and aesthetics but also to direct healthy growth and avoid wasted energy, while maintaining the tree’s miniature size.

It is an impressive feat to shrink a 20-meter tree into a tiny pot and keep it comfortably inside the living room. This art is vast, and it is possible for anyone interested to create amazing specimens. For over two millennia this art form has been making its mark all around the globe.  It originated in China around the time of Christ and then migrated to Japan around 1000 AD. Bonsai was originally thought to have been developed by Tibetan monks to harness the power of nature inside of their temples; it has since influenced many outside cultures.

The design of Bonsai is to always recreate the natural settings in which trees can be found. Their shapes are tilted, bent, wind-torn or straight and true. Their settings can come in various styles, for instance; many trees all together creating a forest-like appearance, or being split to form “multiple” trunks, and although not entirely common in nature, a tree can be trained to hang down creating a cascading effect.

The magic of Bonsai is that, like any art form, there are many ways to do it.  There are standard tools and a medium to work with but how you merge the two is up to you.  You can create a towering two-meter banyan tree or a tiny 20 cm redwood. Bonsai is also not restricted to a certain variety of tree.  Bonsai can be applied to any number of trees, from evergreens to tropical ficus (easiest to start in Thailand) or deciduous trees such as maple or Chinese elm.

As Krabi is starting to grow and open its doors to new people and new minds, Bonsai seems like a fitting new addition to the demographics of our little province. Well, we have just that in Mr. Olivier Michaud from France.  Mr. Michaud has been a Bonsai expert for over 14 years now has decided that Krabi is the place for him to set his roots (no pun intended). “The conditions here are perfect; the humidity in the air, the amount of natural sunlight and the temperature all allow for Bonsai trees to literally pop up!  A 1-meter tree that might take 80 years to grow in Europe or Japan can be grown in Krabi in around 30 years”.

Mr. Michaud explains that although bonsai is an art, it is more than that – It is a meditation. A tree grows with its owner and every time the owner spends time trimming branches, repotting or watering, they enter into a state of focus – all other worries seem to diminish, fears vanish, and one is left with just their tree, its shape, its foliage, its color, and nothing else seems to matter. Those who work with bonsai know that the most important thing with Bonsai is something unseen – it’s the feeling one gets when you look at it.

For more information on Bonsai in Krabi email Mr. Olivier at: