Kuching’s Bonsai & Suiseki competition opportunity for public to learn the art of bonsai


Jong (right) explains how a seedling can be cultivated into a bonsai as Teo looks on. – Photo by Galileo Petingi

KOTA SAMARAHAN (July 15): The Sarawak Open – Bonsai & Suiseki Championship is a good opportunity for the public to learn the art of bonsai, said its organising chairman Hayes Teo.

The event happening from July 20-29 also serves to promote the art as a hobby that could become an income – visitors can learn more on how to plant, trim, as well as maintain bonsai trees, he added.

“The judges will also be there to hold demonstrations on how to properly cut, trim and wire the branches and leaves. It will be a good chance to learn from the experts,” he said at a press conference held at HSL Tower here yesterday.

Seeing as how the bonsai enthusiasts in the state mostly consist of the Chinese, Teo called on participation from individuals of other races and religions.

“In West Malaysia, there are a huge number of bonsai enthusiasts who are Malay and Indian.

“This is a very good hobby – we encourage more people from other races to be involved. Who knows perhaps the bonsai trees cultivated can be lucrative and can be part of their side income,” he added.

Aside from that, he is also encouraging the younger generation to join in a workshop on bonsai which will be held on July 27 at La Promenade here.

“Nowadays, you see kids are spending a lot of time on their mobile phones, and this worries the parents.

“Through this event, we want to promote this hobby to kids, planting a seed in their minds so that they can start this hobby and eventually, their parents will follow suit. This is how we want to advocate the art of bonsai to the public,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Bonsai Association (SBA) president Johnson Jong said seedlings can be easily obtained between RM20-RM30 per seedling.

However, the cultivation of the seedlings depends on whether the seedlings are suitable as bonsai trees, he said.

“We cannot use any kind of seedling – we need to use those that have small leaves. For example, the durian seedling – when it grows, there will be two or three large leaves covering the whole bonsai tree.

“The point of cultivating the seedlings into bonsai is to make it look like a small old tree, with a good shrub and body shape.

“Starfruit seedlings would be suitable for bonsai – cut off the trunk, chop off some of the unwanted branches, and then the seedling will grow into a bonsai with all the fruits hanging on the tree,” Jong said.

Teo elaborated that in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam; enthusiasts even use banana and coconut seedlings and cultivate them into bonsai trees.

“Starting a bonsai tree is not so difficult – in fact it is very easy. It is just the matter of proper watering methods, sustaining and maintaining the tree to the desired shape,” he added.