Upon opening the Mystery of Bonsai Nursery in 1976, Zhang Xiu and Zhang Chen have diligently, some might say slavishly, devoted themselves to the art of Bonsai. Migrating to the Brazilian city of Manaus in the mid-seventies and shortly thereafter starting the nursery, the couple brought their skilled practise to the attention of their neighbours and lived in an elevated quarto-e-sala around the back. The place was cosy and simple, but don’t let the description fool you! I’m sure it would still be a great place to live, although I’ll never know.
You might know that ‘bonsai’ is a Japanese word… well, good on you! Xiu and Chen didn’t want to take the chance that others would, so they named their nursery Mystery of Bonsai for the international recognition. The mystery, of course, is that they’ve always referred to their horticultural practise as the ‘Penjing Nursery’. This is all very nice to know but the locals just like the tiny trees found throughout the courtyard.
Xiu spearheaded the move to South America believing the abundant rainforests to be home to a biodiverse wonderland, rich in unique plant-life that the two could tame into the bonsai style. Three times a week she would brave the tropical dangers that surrounded them; quicksand, poisonous amphibians, elongated anacondas and even electric eels. It was always worth it though, as she would return to the workshop to bring back cuttings and specimens of the most unique flora that Chen had ever seen.
Chen would take these myriad specimens and cultivate, clip and train them into an abundant array of unforgettable greenery. Once seen you’d be hard pressed to forget some of the more *errr* distinctive members of the Zhang family of plants:
Now, with these exciting and unique additions to the penjing family why would the Mystery of Bonsai nursery be closing? Well the answer is two-fold. The first factor is the declining interest in the floral forms, botanical bonanzas and cultivated curiosities.
However, much more prescient is the fact that whilst displaying their new unidentified breed of nepenthes the Zhang couple watched in horror as the peckish plant just plum ate up a member of the public. This incident brought on a media circus, revealed an inferior and predatory insurance policy, a never-ending parade of law suits and, of course, the scrutiny of the Brazilian Commission for Accident Prevention.
The commission has decreed that the entire nursery need be *umm* decommissioned and bulldozed to the ground. The future is unfortunately uncertain for the Zhang family. What is certain is that their beautiful home, in which I’ve never lived (and now never will), is to be destroyed.
You can buy prints of all of the Places I’ve never lived here: Three Pronged Widget's Store
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Love the illustrations. Esp. that carnivorous plant. 😆