140) The Story of Mă-Kè Bonsai in London, United Kingdom

140) The Story of Mă-Kè Bonsai in London, United Kingdom

[Music] Why don’t we start with the Japanese maples. We’ve got lots of them. We got Sushi Kashira What kind of tree is it? Japanese maple Yes, it does. It does get very red in autumn. And what’s the name of that tree? It’s a juniper, a Chinese juniper [Music] Very good quality junipers. Yes they collect them from between
the valley of the river so they got them on the cliff faces and that’s where they collect them from. This is a White Matsu. White as in the colour white? Yes it has white lines on it so that’s why it’s called white matsu. And this is a black matsu, it grows on the coast of Japan. These grow higher up in in the mountains of Japan. So, all these trees you have, the white matsu and the black matsu, how do you get these? We import them from japan Do you also teach? I do teach lots and lots. So we have the beginners, for advanced and for the more professional students also. So Mostly British people? In London, a mixture of everybody but they all live in London, all Londoners. Is it common to grow an apple tree as a bonsai? Yes, it’s very popular because it has beautiful flowers, and then afterwards, it has little apples. So all through the year, there’s something on the tree. And this is a cherry. Cherry. Is it from Japan too? No, these are local cherry trees. But the variety is from Japan. They’re called Kwanzan but they’re grown locally. They’re not imported. You are looking after everything bonsai here? Yes, me and my students help me. It must be quite a lot of work to do. It is but it’s fun. I like it. It is my hobby, my passion. [Laughs] I used to teach at a university. I’m a teacher so for me to teach bonsai is good.
It’s easy. So you used to be a professor? What was the first reason being a professor and suddenly become a bonsai.. Because when I was a young boy, 20-something, I was studying karate. I saw the movie, Mr. Miyagi. That’s where I saw the bonsai the first time and then I saw them in in a local club, and I said this is the way to go. So I started 30 years ago and since that time now, this collection is there. Who is Mr. Miyagi? Mr. Miyagi is a karate teacher, a Japanese karate teacher who was living in America and he was teaching American students and it’s a story, it’s a nice, very popular American movie that was popular
when we were very young. You also like karate? Yes, I studied karate for many, many years Okinawan kobudō, from the island of Okinawa. So that style I started in India where I come from, and then I practiced out in England also for a long time. I also taught for a few years before health said keep away from, too much exercise, so this is perfect to me. So now bonsai make me well. It’s good for my health, it’s good for me, there’s no tension anymore. Bonsai is good for health. It’s my way of life yes, it is very good for health. This is an indoor bonsai, bonsai from Asia. So that’s why they’re in a hot room. This is a fig tree from China. This one is from India. This is a banana tree. The banana is from … this tree is from Sri Lanka. The jade is from Africa actually – Angola. The pomegranate – the Punica, is from Turkey. This is a fig tree so I put it in the ground and they grow much bigger and then I’ll show you how they become much older. This is a pistachio. Where from? The pistachio is from the Mediterranean,
Italy and Spain. Do you know a guava? This is from India. I got the seed from when I was in India
and I grew the seeds. So it grows very slowly here. So it seems like you have bonsais from
all over the world. From many different countries. I have 450 different species. Mostly you buy part of these from each country or do you have any agent? No, I collect seeds so I get five, seven seeds. I’m allowed to get a few seeds at a time. Mostly they die but sometimes they grow, and when they grow and then I take cuttings and make more of them. There’s some small little cuttings that I take and then grow in the bigger pots and then they grow bigger and bigger Who made this greenhouse? Me. This from the old windows of my house, when I changed the heating window. These are from the old window. I said, Ok, I’ll use them. Cuttings, they grow into little pots like this and then I started making them, I put them in the ground and they grow bigger, then I cut them and make them into bonsais. So it takes me about eight years to get one as a bonsai that I can perhaps sell. Twenty years before it is really, really good to display in exhibitions. Are these tools for the bonsai? Yes. Where do you get these from? Some are Japanese, some are from China. These are from Japan. You bought them here? My teacher bring for me when he come. So generally I would cut back to about two shoots. I let it grow fully and then I cut back to 1, 2. Is it ok to cut that much? Yes you have to let it grow because when it grows, it makes nice roots, and when you cut, it makes more branches, so the tree becomes more full. So how do you decide where you cut
and where you leave? Where I leave is how I want to shape the tree. But when to cut is depending on the season and it has full extensions. It has to grow to a certain length, it has to start making small branches at the back before I prune. So I brought this in because this is ready. Most of the others are not yet ready This is an evergreen tree so it grows through year which is why I can cut it now. These are the soils that we use for bonsai. So these are from Japan That is Akadama and this is pumice from Japan. This again is from Japan. When did you start? About seven years now. First, my teacher started but then the demand was so much and he was here not so often so I started teaching and now we have lots and lots and lots of students. So every Sunday, something is happening. Tell me a bit about the bonsais here. This is called a shohin bonsai. Shohin means small bonsai but it’s very, very detailed. It’s got everything, the branches are well-formed. This is a very old Japanese bonsai. These ones are collected from the Alpines, from Italy and the Alpine mountains. So they have all been collected. Yamadori, and because of that, they’ve got lots of bark. The bark is very good. I made this. I tried to do it the Japanese way but it didn’t quite work but it looks nice. Some of the features but yes. This is very Japanese. Where did this original idea come? Do you have any particular art? Yes, I copied it from a bonsai nursery. This is my tokonoma and my favorite bonsai tree. This is your tokonoma space. Ficus microcarpa, it’s a fig tree. So it’s very, very old. It’s been with me for a long time now. This is grown in the Japanese broom style. And the branches radiate outwards like in the Japanese broom. So you have, and it’s like a fan and so this is the leaves normally are quite big but they reduce when the bonsai thing happens so they get smaller and smaller. They need a lot of light and it needs a lot of heat. And inside here, it can get really, really hot. 42 degrees. This is grown in the very traditional the way like most fig trees are grown in India. The roots are hanging from there. When I was a little boy in India, we used to swing on the roots, from the aerial roots. It used to be quite a lot of fun. And so I’ve let them stay here because this reminds me of the way it was when I was a young boy. And the branches get smaller and smaller and finer and finer. So I keep pruning it so that I can make it more and more thick. Sometimes it gets too much branches, too much leaves and then I have to thin it out. It’s now getting quite thick so I have to reduce it so light can go inside, otherwise I will kill the branches on the inside. Another very old… but this is an English Hawthorne so it has little red berries on it. A lot of little white flowers coming. What’s the most appealing thing about bonsai? About being with nature, about being with trees. I grew up in India where we had lots of trees and forests. So when I came to England, that was missing, and the only way I could get lots of trees is by having lots of small trees. So I enjoyed having the trees out here. So what makes you… like to share
your knowledge in here, in your country to your people? For me, I always dreamt that bonsai is a great way of relaxing, of being calm, of being with your environment, and in this busy world, bonsai is a great way of being with yourself and being with nature. It makes me feel more relaxed with people, more sensible with people. It makes me less angry with everything and it’s healthy for you. Is that why you want to share with people? Yes to take it to the next level. You want to share with people or… No well for myself yes but mainly to share with people. [Music]

17 thoughts on “140) The Story of Mă-Kè Bonsai in London, United Kingdom

  1. Hi Mark, that was a great film, I really enjoyed learning a bit more about you and your journey. Your garden and trees look amazing. Thank you.

  2. Mark, thanks for sharing. Lovely collection of trees & beautiful greenhouse ! At 5:30, do you let the roots escape into the humidity tray or do you keep them pruned and within the pot all the time ? How often do you water the shohin trees in the tray ? Hypothetically speaking, would you prefer the floor of the ceramic pot to be a plastic mesh, like that of the air-pots ? Do you see any disadvantage to such a design ? I like the 3d printed air pruning bonsai pot link you had shared sometime ago on one of my videos.

  3. Namaste Mark sir.
    The day I saw your first vedio I knew you are an Indian. I am have just started collecting bonsai plants, most of them are ficus. Thanks for this vedio. I live in Bangalore and we don't have any clubs .
    If I want any information can I contact you.

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