African Bonsai Tree

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African Bonsai Tree – And as this 2017 looks like! We are entering the new year with the first ever penjing exhibition in Africa with 50 trees on display at Puff Adder. These miniature trees are all housed in containers and are on loan from generous bonsai artists, with the oldest tree being 80 years old. Willem Pretorius, president of the Bonsai Society of South Africa, kindly organized the exhibition, featuring old masters such as Rudi Adam and Gail Theron, as well as newcomers Freddie Bisschoff and Stephen le Roux. What makes this collaboration special is that 2017 marks 80 years of bonsai in South Africa, so don’t miss out. Even if you’re not Edward Scissorhands, you can still visit and admire the craft of making these living pieces of art.

Willem tells us more about the exhibition and the history of bonsai in South Africa. It seems you don’t know that we have our own style of bonsai, known in the East!

African Bonsai Tree

African Bonsai Tree

Penjing? In short, you can call it Chinese bonsai, but it is more! Bonsai started 3,000 years ago in China and not – as many people think – in Japan. What I like about penjing is that it fits my vision of what bonsai should be, allowing for wildness and freedom when designing trees. I went to China to study penjing and noticed two different variations in bonsai. I was amazed at the size of their trees and how they presented themselves. Where I noticed in Japan that they usually show one tree of a certain size, I saw a completely different kind of art in China.

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In Japan, one marvels at the perfection of woodwork on display, but in China there is a natural freedom and skill that really speaks to me. After making bonsai for a long time, I suddenly feel Chinese! Our traditional trees are wild and free and the creative and natural freedom the Chinese have brought to art has impressed me.

As Indonesia’s Robert Steven says, there is much about the soul of penjing that is revealed in the presentation: “t

Title message, symbolism and poetry. The presentation is natural, without being too beautiful in terms of the anatomical details of the tree. Penjing is more involved with independent speech, with very strong references to individual feelings. Anatomical perfection is not

In the Puff Adder you will see the African penjing, and our very beautiful Pierneef-style stands out. There is also Rudi Adam’s swamp cypress that I will walk a hundred kilometers through.

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Few people know that we have a rich tradition of growing artistic trees in pots in South Africa and have developed our African style of bonsai-penjing which is popular in the East. We were also one of the first countries outside of Asia to start growing our own bonsai with native materials, instead of importing it from the East.

As always, we have a north/south divide in this amazing art form. In the Western Cape, we had the mother of bonsai in South Africa, Becky Lucas, who learned her craft in Japan and upon her return started several groups in South Africa.

But in the northern regions, in Johannesburg, a Chinese gentleman named Dr. Stephen Tim started teaching people the art. It can be assumed that the Chinese influence in the north was therefore very prominent and they made penjing more than bonsai.

African Bonsai Tree

But the most important thing is that we are reviving the old tradition in Africa with our take. There is beauty in the open African plains and savannas where giraffes and elephants walk and “bonsai” our trees from above, while antelopes cut down from below to give them their unique shapes and forms. In South Africa, we have created a bonsai-penjing that is more natural than the methods and forms we find in Europe and the East. We have created an Oriental painting in Africa and I am proud of what has been achieved.

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The bonsai trees will be on display at Puff Adder only until the end of January. The garden is open from 9am to 5pm, admission is R10 on weekdays and R20 on weekends and public holidays (paid at the door). The African Bonsai Association is the Regional Center of the World Bonsai Federation (WBFF). In the mid-1980s, the Bonsai Society of South Africa was asked to form an African Region under the World Bonsai Friendship Association (WBFF). In 1991, the African Bonsai Association (ABA) was formally established and merged with the South African Bonsai Association (SABA) to serve as the umbrella organization for all bonsai associations in Africa and as the African regional representative to the World Federation of Bonsai Friendship .

In 2002, ABA split from SABA, with SABA focusing only on bonsai in South Africa, and ABA remaining focused on the entire African continent.

The ABA currently has representatives in the following countries, along with contact information. Country representative by email President Jonathan Cain, African Bonsai Association WBFF Regional Director jonathan@bonsaisa.co.za Vice President Willem Pretorius willempret@mweb.co.za Algeria Ferroukhi Redouane, International Advisor at ABA ferroukhi.redouane@ yahoo .fr Egypt Mohamed Nabil, ABA International Advisor mnabilsaleh@yahoo.com Ghana Jerome Agbomson, ABA International Advisor senamagbomson@gmail.com Israel Ofer Grunwald, ABA International Advisor grunwald.ofer @gmail.com Kenya Prachi Parikh, International Consultant at ABA prachidarshil12 yahoo. com Madagascar Andy Razakarivony, ABA International Consultant razakarivony@yahoo.fr Mauritius Xavier de Lapeyre, ABA International Consultant xtolord@gmail.com Namibia Hendrik Koekemoer, ABA International Consultant hbkinjapan@gmail.com Reunion Patrice Clain, Consultant Reunion@gmail.com. South Africa Org Exley, International Advisor to WBFF org.exley@gmail.com Tunisia Chaachoui Oussama, International Advisor to ABA chaachouioussama@gmail.com Zambia Neli Stoyanova, International Advisor to WBFF nelibonsai@gmail.com

I was born in 1965 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having a B Comm degree, in Accounting and Business Law, and then working in the business environment for 15 years, I was looking for a stress free life. I have a family and I am married to Denise, the mother of our two daughters, Tristyn and Jordan. I had inherited a bonsai tree from a property I bought in 1999. Later I found out that it was a Baobab, and that neglect was the best cure for its survival. In December 2002, my wife, Denise, received a gift of a bonsai tree. Then he started collecting bonsai and in March 2003, we bought a commercial bonsai nursery of 35,000 bonsai. In 2006, he was the founding president of our local bonsai club. I visited the 1st Chinese Penjing Exhibition in China in 2006 as well

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I attended my first WBFF AGM as a guest and consultant for the African Region. In 2013, I attended the WBFF AGM in Taiwan as the President of the Africa Region. In 2017 I was asked to be the Secretary at WBFF. Today at Elandan Gardens, Dan described this unique maple tree that was designed to mimic the African baobab. Dan wanted to share this tree to get people’s thoughts on unusual maple designs.

This tree was given to Dan by Will Hiltz, author of Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees – a biography about Dan and his 50+ years in bonsai following a natural style that defies the convention of modern Japanese and American bonsai ingredients. Dan likes to create bonsai with similar characteristics to the unimaginable trees he has seen in ancient forests and other extremes and wild places. Sometime after the book was published, Will decided to liquidate most of his bonsai collection and pursue other projects and gave Dan his best trees to keep in the garden.

The trunk scar is designed to move the elephant’s wound. As can be seen in the image below, a determined elephant can do a lot of damage to these wild trees.

African Bonsai Tree

Baobabs are actually a multi-species species. The iconic Madagascar baobab is not unlike the unknown species found on the African continent. Some of these types are shown below. The Tanzanian baobabs look very similar to Dan’s designs. I can easily understand how you might not see this as a baobab style if you only think of the Madagascar baobab. A variety of baobab specimens are also included in the table below.

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Apparently, I underestimated the destructive power of elephants. Elephants “denude” the baobab in this way to reach the moisture under the bark during the dry season. Source: http://magazine.africageographic.com/

Perhaps the most famous baobab in Madagascar – Adanosia grandidieri. This is what most people think of when the baobab tree is mentioned. Source: upload.wikimedia.org no longer supports older versions of your web browser to ensure user data remains secure. Please update to the latest version.

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