Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Early history of bonsai in Russia

There were Russian settlements in China and Chinese settlements in Russia as early as late 17th century. By the end of the 19th century there were tens of thousands of Russians settled in various parts of China. Some of them were fluent in Mandarin and exposed to various aspects of Chinese culture including penjing. For example, we know of a Russian railway official Alexander Koreshov who resided with his family in a government house in Harbin, Manchuria around 1912. The house had a garden with a collection of penjing and a Chinese gardener who looked after it. These penjing trees made such a deep impression on Alexander Koreshov’s son Vitaliy that after settling in Australia he went on growing bonsai for the rest of his life. He became the founder of the first bonsai club and the first bonsai nursery in that country. ...............................................................................................................................................................
1956 - State Publishing of Agricultural Literature publishes a book titled ‘Indoor Gardening’ which contains a section titled ‘Dwarf Plants’. The section is written by G. E. Kiselev and presents a somewhat distorted view about ‘dwarf plants’. The section is accompanied by four images. One of them shows a 25-year-old Deodar trained in Literati style and planted in a shallow round container. The plant belonged to A. A. Karpenko from Sochi (presently Republic of Georgia).
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1960’s – An article about bonsai in a popular science magazine ‘Nauka i Zhizn’ (Science and Life). The article contained images of high standard Japanese bonsai and raised awareness about this art in the Soviet Union.
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By the end of the 60’s Anatoliy Annenkov, landscape architect at the Nikitsky Botanic Gardens, Crimea and Soviet Union’s leading landscape architect, develops considerable skills in growing and styling bonsai. He was a gifted artist and horticulturist who communicated with bonsai enthusiasts from other countries and used to make his own bonsai pots.
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1976 – Japan presents Russia with a gift of 44 bonsai. The collection is housed in a subtropical glasshouse at the State Botanic Gardens of Academy of Sciences, Moscow. The curator of bonsai collection at that time is Tamara Belousova. This collection attracts a small group of bonsai enthusiasts which would form the core of bonsai community in Russia.
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1985 - Phyllis Argall’s book ‘Dwarf trees in the Japanese mode’ originally published in 1964 was translated and published in Russian. It was the first Russian language book which provided instructions for cultivating bonsai. It inspired many to take bonsai as a hobby.
........................................................................................................................................................................ 1988 – A group of bonsai enthusiasts who regularly met at the State Botanic Gardens in Moscow decides to form Russia’s first bonsai club.
......................................................................................................................................................................... 1989 – First bonsai exhibition held at the Japanese Garden of the State Botanic Gardens in Moscow.

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