Rebirth Of A Ficus Tree

Jyoti Pandya

Bonsai with trunkI firmly believe that trees have souls and destinies just as human beings do and there are instances when fate brings a specific tree and a particular human together for a purpose, building a rewarding lifelong relationship of love and trust. One such unique relationship is between this ficus virens tree and myself... .

My husband was posted in Delhi, and we were living in a government house. The hedge around the boundary of the house was drying, and we asked to change it. One fine day the horticulture team came and pulled the old hedge out, to replace it with fresh planting. Idly looking at the carnage they had left behind, I spotted this five-feet high, rootless Ficus virens lying amidst the wreckage. As I looked at it, a powerful impulse moved me: I had to somehow bring it back to life and glory. The gardener and I shifted the tree into the house. We inspected it carefully. Neither of us was very hopeful, but both were determined to do our best.

We had a deep pit dug at the back of my garden, and after pruning, we planted this ailing “patient” with extra sandy soil. I would anxiously examine the tree everyday, water it and otherwise tend it as required. It was the beginning of summer, and the chances of its survival were weak, so when the first new buds started sprouting, waves of thankfulness engulfed me: God had heard my prayers and breathed life into it. By the time my husband retired and we decided to return to Bhopal, it was a flourishing tree with good roots and foliage. I carried it with me to Bhopal. It has lived in many pots since then - the present being, perhaps, the largest in India.

This beautiful Ficus Virens with the determination to flourish again, has won many accolades. Mr.Budi Sulistyo, the renowned bonsai master from Indonesia, saw it and said, “The roots of your ficus are of world standard.” He advised me to send the photograph to the world photo competition and won the outstanding Bonsai award and it got the ”Best Ficus” award at the All India Convention and Exhibition at MYSORE in 2007, and again an honourable mention at the World Bonsai Photo Contest at Puerto Rico in Nov 2009. When a group from the Chembur Bonsai Club visited with the bonsai master from the Philippines, Mr. Pocevic Ceballos, one of them said: ”Our Bhopal visit is fruitful just by seeing this one tree”

About the author

Jyoti Pandya grew up with an abiding love for nature and gardening. At the age of 42, this led her into the mysterious and artistic world of bonsai. An ardent bonsai practitioner for over 30 years now, she has devotedly taught this art to a large number of students. She has learnt this art by herself, but now with immense experience behind her, along with participation in a range of national and international bonsai workshops, conferences and competitions, she is highly regarded as a bonsai expert. She has given several lecture-demonstrations and has also appeared on television shows on the subject.

She has invested 30 years in the field of bonsai, is self-taught and now teaches the art of bonsai mainly in the central province of India. In this regard, she has travelled to many states and cities of India, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Jaipur & MP and has conducted many workshops of bonsai across the country. So far about 3000 persons have gained from her course. Her unique approach and simplified method of teaching has made her a favorite teacher of bonsai.

Experience: She has attended many workshops, lectures and demonstrations of many masters from all over the world, such as Peter Chan, Budi Sulistyo, William Valavanis, Pedro Morels, Shushumu Nakamura Kimura and many Chinese and Japanese experts.

She founded the Bonsai Club, Bhopal in 1990. The success of the club founded by her can be gauged from the fact that the club has conducted 16 successful exhibitions to date during the past 22 years. She also held a solo exhibition of 100 bonsai trees in 1992, travelled widely to many countries including the United States of America, Canada, England, Spain, Japan, China and Australia , and also won prestigious awards in India as well as in world Bonsai contests since 1999 till 2009.

Jyoti Pandya has received 3 prestigious awards recently at All India Bonsai Summit on the occasion of her club's Silver Jubilee summit.
The judging was done by International Masters:
1. Best Bonsai of the show. A Gold Plaque was awarded to her by co-founders of Indo-Japanese Association, Mumbai.
2. The Best well ballanced Bonsai.
3. The Best Mame Bonsai.

Her book Bonsai for the tropics was launched on 3 Jan 2009 by Manjul publishing Ltd. and has been highly appreciated as a useful addition to the literature on the art of bonsai.

Bonsai in the words of the author

The Japanese term ‘Bonsai’ combines two terms, bon=Tray or Pot and Sai=plant. It is an achievement of human creative talent, which embodies a wonderful relationship between the tree and the artist who works intimately with the living and ever growing art piece. To attempt a brief definition of bonsai, Bonsai is a unique art form wherein trees and shrubs are planted in shallow containers with special cultivation techniques to give them the expression of magnificent ancient looking trees in miniature form. It is a very exciting art form, one that is living, breathing and changing its forms according to the seasons. To an extent it can be compared to a painting, but a painting gets completed at some point of time. The artist or the collector may for long periods of time forget its existence as it does not require one’s continuous and constant attention, but this living art piece that is called ‘bonsai’ cannot be left by itself for long, as it demands the continuing attention and care of the artist for its survival. While taking care of bonsai, the grower gains a deep sense of satisfaction and the pleasure of creation, along with great relaxation from being so near to nature.

The reference Vaman Tanu Vrikshadi Vidya (The science of growing dwarf trees) is found in Indian texts of Ayurveda. Certainly at that point of time, the trees were not planted in pots for the purpose of beautifying and miniaturizing them by dwarfing. Rare trees were brought from faraway places and nurtured in miniature form for ayurvedic (Medicinal) purpose.

When I started experimenting with bonsai on my own without anyone’s guidance, I thought that since I had been practicing gardening for many years, bonsai- making would be very easy for me but it was not so. One may say that bonsai involves 70% aesthetics and 30% horticulture.

The bonsai scenario in India has changed a lot during the past decade or so. Yet not many books have been written specific to bonsai growing in India. There is a growing awareness amongst bonsai enthusiasts to learn the intricate details of this art. Newer techniques and innovations by bonsai masters the world over are now being accepted and these need to be highlighted. I believe that innovation and tradition need to go hand in hand and thus have made every effort to include the most recent trends in bonsai growing and nurturing. I have also introduced some advanced techniques for refining a mature bonsai. Keeping in mind the tropical climate of India, specific tropical plant species have also been newly adopted for bonsai. I would like to suggest to the beginner to follow the step-by-step methods of creating and maintaining beautiful bonsai as explained in this book with simple text and illustrations. I am confident that with patience and diligence, success will surely grace the beginner.