Bonsai originated in the Chinese empire and was later copied and adapted by the Japanese, who turned it into what we know now as 'Bonsai trees'. Literally translated, 'bon-sai' means 'planted in a container'.
This miniature form of horticulture wonder has been widely available in Bangladesh for many years now. These plants can be easily sourced from many nurseries and art galleries but it is the plant's health that needs proper attention for a good-quality and healthy Bonsai.
Among the many nurseries and art galleries, Living Art Gallery has established itself as a trustworthy name and a home for high-quality bonsai trees.
"We have over 20,000 bonsai trees of over 450 species at Living Art Gallery, starting from medicinal to coniferous to foreign ones," said K M Sabuj, a bonsai enthusiast and CEO of the gallery.
Living Art Gallery is home to around 4,500 species of local Bonsais alone. Some of the most popular species of local-bred bonsai are banyan, rose, shimul, ashoka, hijal, among others. Frangipani, geranium, night flowering jasmine and bougainvillaea are some of the popular flowering species of bonsai trees.
Sabuj started getting interested in studying and collecting bonsai trees in 1996 when he first saw one. To give his newly acquired interest some ammunition, Sabuj decided to go to China, India and Malaysia to receive training on bonsai culture. Since then, the art of bonsai has remained an irreplaceable part of Sabuj's life.
Not only has he studied this art form, but Sabuj has also dedicated a fair share of his life to the welfare of bonsai trees and established Living Art Gallery as a safe ground for these delicately-formed miniature trees.
A bonsai plant may look great and inspire beauty in the premises it is kept in, but caring for it properly is a challenge. If you plan on purchasing a bonsai, you have to accept a fair share of challenges.
"Rose bonsai needs to be trimmed in November and December. If you don't trim this bonsai on time, it will outgrow its branches and stop flowering," Sabuj said.
But do all bonsai trees require the same method of care?
Apparently, bonsai trees need to be watered and kept in the sun in more or less the same way, the bonsai-enthusiast said. He added, "The more common species of bonsai trees need to be kept in the sunlight for a couple of days, but not all species require this treatment. Only the ones with yellowed, dried leaves or leaves that are about to fall need direct sunlight."
Sabuj added most bonsai trees need to be watered regularly, just like any other full-sized outdoor plant.
"Make sure the soil doesn't go dry during summer. Water the plants twice a day if necessary. During winter, watering the plants less should not be a problem if the soil is moist," he said, adding, "Watering the plant too much in winter can cause the water to settle in the roots, causing it to rot and eventually kill the bonsai."
Bonsai trees can live for hundreds of years. Currently, the oldest known bonsai tree is over 1,000 years old. Due to the constant care and maintenance done to bonsai trees, they typically live 25 percent longer than a tree of the same species living in nature.
The price of the bonsai trees at the Living Art Gallery range between Tk1,000 to Tk13 lakh. Apart from selling different popular and rare species of bonsai trees, the gallery also regenerates and donates bonsai trees that went extinct or are on the verge of extinction to government horticulture facilities such as Baldha Garden.