Bonsái en roca  

The origin of cultivating bonsai

The bonsai is the result of the oriental gardening technique of growing trees in pots. The technique is such that it involves very a precise gardening skill that has become an art in itself. All travelling peoples developed, to varying degrees, the growth of valued plants in pots, which otherwise, at their natural size, could not have been transported, to accompany them on their travels. 

China developed in ancient times remarkable gardening skill. The more powerful classes, such as emperors, priests, nobles and traders, often had enclosed gardens in which to enjoy beauty and to meditate. When they moved from one residence to another, they took with them some of the trees that recreated a certain landscape or linked them to eternity. And so came about the development of growing trees in pots as a symbol of permanence from generation to generation. 

Trees, when joined to man, set off sentiments and beliefs and also established a dialogue while meditating on nature. Art was added to this technique and sculpture was integrated into the tree. This made them distinct from anything ever known before. In Europe the technique of growing plants in pots had also been developed. The Romans used it in their topiary art. Later in the orangeries, orange trees, lemon trees and palm trees along with other exotic trees were grown in pots, from the 16th Century, in order to exhibit them outdoors during the summer. More recently, fascination with oriental gardening moved European countries and the United States to import these growing techniques which became integrated into Western gardening. Towards the end of the 19th century bonsais were brought to Europe for the Universal Exhibitions. In the 20th century, especially during the second half, the openings to the Orient allowed for certain fashions and interests to become more widespread. Bonsai collections were established in several gardens of renown.


Real Jardín Botánico
Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC. Plaza de Murillo, 2. Madrid E-28014 (ESPAÑA). Tel. +34 91 4203017. FAX: +34 91 4200157
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