Small Wonder

Alisha Shinde
Saturday, 17 February 2018

Bonsai expert Prajakta Kale talks about her passion and why these plants are not expensive  and high maintenance unlike what most people think.

Fond of gardening, Prajakta Kale got introduced to bonsai in 1984. And she believes it is the best thing that has ever happened to her. “I liked the concept a lot, so I started practising it initially by reading books,” says Kale. But later she realised that to get better in the art of bonsai she needed guidance and training from the best of best. She undertook training from Indonesian bonsai master Rudy Najoan, who has been her mentor for this ‘soulful journey’, as she calls it. Kale is one of the founding members of Bonsai Namaste which will be organising one of India’s biggest bonsai conferences and conventions in Pune this week. We catch up with her to know more about her passion.  

Bonsai as an art form
Talking about how bonsai is more than just gardening and every branch is cut at a specific angle depending on the plant’s growth, she says, “Bonsai is an art form because every leaf and every branch that we cut adds beauty to the plant. As a bonsai artist, I have to be really careful when cutting the leaves and branches, just the way an artist has to be careful with his strokes when painting.” 

She also believes that the person who cares for bonsais has to feel connected with the plant. “It’s a part of the person’s soul,” she says, adding, “We have to be very careful while handling the delicate plants.” Kale picturises each and every bonsai before shifting its base to a smaller setting which can be a small plate or even a branch. 

She also wants more people to know about bonsai art. “Bonsais are my passion and I want people to know more about them and make the art form famous in India,” she says.

The art of healing 
“Bonsai art is extremely intricate and requires a lot of patience,” says Kale, adding that it has helped her become more calm. She believes that whenever she works on her bonsais she gets transported to a serene world.  “I find my peace of mind,” says Kale adding that working with plants definitely has health benefits. “You are not only breathing cleaner, fresher air but the greenery is also pleasing to the eyes.”

Busting the myths
While many people believe that growing a bonsai is cruel and the plant goes through a lot of trauma during its growing years, Kale dismisses it by saying, “It is not even close to torturing the plant.” She explains that the plant does not feel any trauma or pain. If it did feel pain, it would cease growth. She says that bonsai is an art that has a science backing it. 

“The plant is just shifted to a small plate and it grows in the space that is available for it to grow,” she says adding that the plant goes through a process of adaption and not cruelty. “Bonsais are small because they have adapted and evolved in such a way so that they grow in a small space and more specifically indoors,” she adds. 

Bonsai plants are regularly labelled as high priced and high maintenance, which Kale believes is a myth. “When it comes to the price, people need to understand that this is a one time investment and just one unit, unlike another 10-15 pots that they have in their garden,” she says adding that just like the regular plants, bonsai is easy to maintain. 

“Regularly trimming and watering the plants as well as protecting them from extreme heat is all that you need to do,” she says, adding that during summer one needs to take extra care of bonsais since they are delicate and the sun is extremely harsh during these months.

ST Reader Service
Bonsai Namaste is organising the exhibition at Agriculture College Ground, Sinchan Nagar, Pune, from February 22 to 25 between 9 am and 10 pm. Entry is free.

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