Unknown Nichigo

Bonzer Bonsai!

Given that this site started with the intent of spreading information about Japan and Australia and matters related to these countries, including languages, and then how much focus I have placed on gardening over the past couple of years, it’s surprising that I haven’t had much to say about bonsai. Or bonzer, for that matter.

Bonsai is, of course, the Japanese art of miniature tree growing in trays: the literal meaning of the word bon (tray) sai (gro/cultivate).

And, despite having written a Strine Dictionary, or list of Australian English terms, one of its notable absentees is the word bonzer, which was perhaps an iconic term Down Under in the 20th century until American influence started to permeate the language from the early 1940s onward.

Anyway, there’s a bonzer bonsai exhibition going on in Melbourne this week, featuring Australian native plants in miniature form.

Although I’ve always had something of an affinity for bonsai, I guess there has always been a repugnant aspect to the practice as the key to keeping the trees so small lies in binding their roots to suppress growth. My dad was an avid gardener and always referred to the process as “cruel.” I never really gave it that much thought, but with native trees in Kangaeroo Corner now sparking enormous affinity for Australian flora, I’m kinda coming around to his way of thought.

Nonetheless, for me, Japan and Australia are inextricably intertwined, and an activity like this week’s exhibition cannot possibly be ignored.

Check it out if you can! The Victorian Native Bonsai Club event will be held in Preston, Melbourne, on the night of Friday, March 15 and during the day on Saturday, March 16.

Strine Dictionary