"To appreciate and find pleasure in curiously curved potted trees is to love deformity."
-excerpt from a Japanese scroll, Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Who doesn't appreciate the art of bonsai? It's mysterious, it's funky, and it employs a kind of intention that not many other endeavors have these days; not just in its training, but in its endurance. In a world where many strive for elusive perfection and immediate gratification, the art of bonsai allows its practitioners to revel in the freedom of imperfection, to achieve an enduring intimacy with the essence of nature.
Originating in China over 1,000 years ago, it was the Japanese who adopted and elevated the art of bonsai with admirable patience and meticulous horticultural skill. But for the past 20 years, it is in Stamford, Connecticut that the practice of bonsai is alive and well.
At Shanti Bithi Nursery, Saeko Oshiro is the bonsai specialist who trains, and maintains the impressive collection of bonsai specimens "behind the fence" of the white country house that serves as the Shanti Bithi office.
This one? Over 100 years old.
Weather-worn tables display pot after pot of individuals of all sorts of character:
Saeko is currently in Japan, and will return in March. Upon her return, I will speak with Saeko at Shanti Bithi Nursery about what it takes to turn a humble beginning into a personal masterpiece.
"To develop a fine bonsai collection, make one hundred and keep two or three." - Nobu Kajiwara