I have always liked the idea of growing Bonsai and, for my birthday last week, I was set up for the challenge and given this beautiful little tree called Syzygium buxifolium or Chinese myrtle. As today is China’s national day, it’s good to celebrate that great but far from free country’s culture with something of such beauty.
I’m a little bit daunted by the responsibility of caring for it but I’ve placed it on my desk so that it’s in the right environment, next to a South-facing window, with some direct light and plenty of air as I mostly keep that window open unless it’s really cold outside. I know not to over-water it and that I should use rain water or cool boiled water to prevent it drying out in summer. I will turn it weekly to control the growing pattern and trim the roots every two or three years. Mostly though, I hope, I shall sit and watch it grow – already it has injected a Zen-like spirit of tranquillity into my working space.
Chinese Myrtle grows to its full height in Southern China including Fuchian province where I visited in February 2008 – it was in China, rather than Japan, where I first saw Bonsai trees growing in ornamental parks like this one in Fouchou.
I was visiting China with my White Crane Kungfu club, White Crane Fighting Arts, to study Shaolin Dog Boxing with renowned Master Lin Zaipei.
Apart from the Kungfu, there was time to see the country, visit temples and, of course, to eat and drink the Chinese way.
I even earned myself a certificate in Shaolin Dog Boxing presented by Master Lin Zaipei himself.
Of course, when we weren’t training, there was also time to go out on the town in Fouchou city.
I had a great time there so it’s especially good to have this little Chinese Bonsai tree as a daily reminder of the positive aspects of Chinese society while we, at least, are allowed to see in our media, those brave Hong Kong demonstrators taking to the streets demanding democracy from the often hard-faced government of leader Xi Jinping.
Wish me (and the tree) luck, everyone, but don’t forget to wish luck to the great Chinese people too – when I was there they were welcoming, hospitable and very charming.