If you find yourself in Andra Pradesh, I’d strongly recommend a visit to Shree Bonsai in Hyderabad.
India, it turns out, has quite a bonsai community. Thanks to the efforts of Shailesh Kapadia, I was put in touch with Lalitha Shree and Madhusudan Reddy of Shree Bonsai (on Facebook) on very short notice. Within 24 hours of making contact, I met with Reddy and Raghurandan Bhagwath at their nursery for a tour. In short, I was really impressed!
Reddy, Bhagwath, and a great ficus
Air roots taking hold
The nursery contains many different varieties, the vast majority of which are new to me. My hosts took time to point out the fruit, flowers and foliage of their native trees while showing off their favorite specimens and describing some of their growing techniques.
Most impressive was the scale and quality of the trees. Taking advantage of the warm weather and the speed with which tropical bonsai grow, Madhusudan has learned to develop trees quickly, encouraging fierce growth and clipping and wiring to guide new shoots. Although I found the garden green and lush, Madhusudan pointed out that it was still winter (about 80F the morning I visited) and that the garden was far more verdant during the growing season.
Long-term ficus project
Preserving moisture with burlap – a smart move when temps can rise above 120F
After showing me around the nursery, Madhusudan took me across the street to a field with really, really, huge pots. “You can’t possibly buy pots like this can you?” Nope, you can’t. They made the giant growing pots themselves in a pit kiln 10 feet away. It took about a week to bake them.
More giant pots
In town for a wedding (more pics of India here if you’re curious), I felt lucky to find so much bonsai enthusiasm in the South Indian town of Hyderabad. And what fun varieties!
Red fruit (tamarind)
Not a tamarind
Thanks again to Shree Bonsai for taking the time to show me around and letting me share these photos – I really appreciate it!