Says bonsai artist Veena Nanda of Bengaluru, who has been designing homes and open spaces with greenscapes of tiny trees and fruiting plants for over two decades now…
Q: What has been your inspiration?
I have always been passionate about gardening. Thankfully, I found a channel in the art of bonsai making. My grandfather managed a coffee plantation of his own, while my mother was a gardening enthusiast.
Q: Can you explain the concept of bonsai?
Bonsai making is a technique that originates in China, where the concept of tray-planted trees was first introduced. This was taken forward by the Japanese via development of more intricate techniques as well as widespread practice. Bonsais are created by stunting the growth of ordinary trees and plants by pruning and trimming. While the aesthetics of such arrangements are highly appealing, mini landscapes thus created also make for feasible green carpets in space constraints of urban settings. They use less water, less space, and look great.
Q: How did you get introduced to this world?
I was introduced to the world of these mini plants some 25 years ago, when I moved to the crowded streets of Mumbai after marriage. India’s leading bonsai artists Jyoti and Nikunj Parekh happened to live in my neighbourhood. Naturally, I decided to make the most of it. I did my first courses in the art- a bonsai basic course- as well as an advanced course under the duo. Later, I shifted to Bengaluru and furthered my passion from there. My desire to work with plants soon started bearing fruit. Starting from 1999, I participated in the Lalbagh Bonsai competition for five consecutive years and won each time. After that, I stopped participating and decided to do bigger things with the art. I even went on to garner recognition pan-India by appearing on various news channels and shows for my work in landscaping, Feng Shui, and with garden accessories. I also teach courses on bonsai making. My passion for working with greenery has expanded to services for greenscaping, hardscaping, gazebos and more. Along with this, I take several workshops and courses to spread the art. Having begun with just three bonsai after my shift from Mumbai, I have built a whopping 1,000 over time. All kinds of fruiting trees work great for creating bonsai. I have worked with a variety of fruits including mango, chikoo, and guava. I have created a variety of bonsai over the years and currently specialise in landscapes created on hard surfaces such as rock and driftwood.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
A major issue I faced back in the day — and still do sometimes — is superstition. Many believe that bonsai bring bad luck due to the presence of stunted trees. But if that was the case, Japan would be on the streets! Even here, more and more people are taking up learning about this skill every day. In the beginning, 80 per cent of my students were women. But today, I have a significant number of men in my workshops as people are opening up about gardening as a hobby for all.