Small is beautiful

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Bonsai has gained huge popularity among gardening enthusiasts in Sri Lanka as a hobby and as a means of earning an income as well. ‘Coco-Bonsai’ – the art of growing miniature coconut trees in containers – is a more recent genre added to the vast arena of Bonsai. However, there is controversy among Bonsai experts about whether Coco-Bonsai could be really categorised as a type of Bonsai. Nonetheless, there are many Coco-Bonsai lovers excelling in the art of it. Violet Perera from kuliyapitiya is one of those Coco-Bonsai artists, who has been practicing and excelling at the art for several years now.

A nature lover

Violet, being a famer woman, has spent a larger portion of her life with nature. “I haven’t been employed and farming is what I have been doing since many years ago. As a result of spending much time in the fields, I have a huge obsession with nature. That is why I find the art of Bonsai very appealing and interesting,” she shared with Ceylon Today.

Inspiration from her sister

“I have tried to Bonsai numerous plants for a long time but not coconut trees. It is my sister who first tried Coco-Bonsai and her plants came out really well. Seeing them, I was inspired to create some Coco-Bonsai of my own.” Violet traced back to the days when she was initially inspired to engage in the art of Coco-Bonsai.

She has never received proper training or guidance on Coco-Bonsai from anyone. “I haven’t attended any Coco-Bonsai training programme or whatever. But I observed my sister’s Coco-Bonsais and tried to figure out how she did them. Then I started to try it on my own and finally, I succeeded!” she mentioned.

Great hobby
but not easy

Violet told us how Bonsai is the perfect hobby for her. She deliberately sacrifices the limited leisure she receives on her Coco-Bonsai collection.

“The process of creating Coco-Bonsai is not simple and easy. It demands much patience and endurance. First you need to select a rooting coconut which would suit your bonsai design. Usually the ones that look crooked and twisted are ideal for Coco-Bonsai. Then it takes around two-three years to grow from the initial rooting stage to the final potting. In the meantime you must attend to it regularly, look for pests and diseases, and make sure that the plant receives adequate nutrition. When it grows bigger you will have to trim and cut out some parts to keep it in shape. The process never ends since this is living art,” she explained.

Support from the
family

Speaking further, Violet mentioned how her family and neighbours support her and encourage her to do more. “I am really grateful for the constant support I receive from my family and neighbours. They would always come and have a look at my Coco-Bonsais and praise me. Their comments mean a lot me. Those comments are my inspiration to do more.” 

Plans for future

Though she does not do this as a business yet, she hopes to start one soon. “I am not ready to start a business yet. My collection is not enough for that. But since I am working on numerous Coco-Bonsai projects now, soon I will be able to have a better collection,” Violet shared with Ceylon Today.

Furthermore, she believes that there will be a good market for creations because she is already getting orders. Nonetheless she is not ready to sell them at this moment.   

 A piece of advice

“If someone is willing to try doing Coco-Bonsai, my advice is to just do it. You will gradually get the art of it. It is not like that there are standard methods or special designs for Coco-Bonsai.  You are totally free in this. Just be careful to give them enough but indirect sunlight and constantly look for pests. Coating the outer shell of the coconut with Varnish would add some resistance against the heat and pests,” Violet shared her knowledge.

Moreover she mentioned that she is open to anyone who wants to consult her regarding Coco-Bonsai.

By Induwara Athapattu