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Giant Souls in Small Bodies 
Bonsai, an ancient art in Nosara

By Irina Guzmán

In order to feel and appreciate the harmony transmitted through the art of bonsai, you do not need to travel all the way to Japan. Since 1991, Ubaldo Sánchez Cárdenas has devoted most of his time to growing bonsai trees and currently enjoys the beauty of his own bonsai garden without having to leave his home in Nosara.

The history behind the art of bonsai is rather spiritual and aristocratic, as it originated in China almost two thousand years ago as an object of worship for the Taoist monks. For them, the tree was a symbol of eternity, representing a link between mankind and the divine, between heaven and earth. 
For centuries, possessing and caring for a bonsai tree was associated with nobility and people of high society. According to tradition, those who could preserve and maintain a potted tree had eternity assured. Later on, about 800 years ago, the art of bonsai was brought to Japan where it was perfected and where it evolved into its current form, in which it is no longer necessary to be a noble in order to appreciate the beauty of these trees. 
However, this practice has its critics, who believe that growing bonsai trees is a cruel practice towards trees, and that the miniaturization process is detrimental to them; obviously, Ubaldo does not share this opinion. “Most people consider it an art form. Those who open up their minds do not see bonsai growing as a cruel practice for trees,” he explained. Growing bonsai trees entails a number of steps that must be done carefully and thoroughly. Every morning, Ubaldo gets up at 5 a.m. and sits down to talk to his trees, interacting with them.

Bonsai with Trees Native to Guanacaste
Ubaldo's trees are about ten to twelve years old, since at least five years must pass before calling them a "bonsai." He has over 35 trees in his garden, and fourteen of them are native species of the Guanacaste region, such as: Madero negro, Cortéz negro, Ficus jimenesis, which is known as the “Tree of Guanacaste”, Ficus costarricense (Mata palo), Gavilán, Carica (which belongs to the same family as the Mata Palo), Pochote, Mirto and Guachipelín, among others.
Ubaldo explained, “Through the eyes of a tree lover, a bonsai can be found anywhere. You must care for it, and it takes time; that is the secret of the art of bonsai!" 

Another secret in regards to their care are the stones that cover the tree's roots. These stones play a fundamental role, besides looking pretty, as they store over 80% of the water and, when temperatures rise, the bonsai extracts the moisture it needs from these stones. For their part, coastal rocks that contain iodine provide the most important element for the bonsai's growth: a natural component called calcium bicarbonate, which is released naturally in small amounts when they come in contact with fresh water.
These giant souls that live within small trees are beautiful and exotic works of art that may be enjoyed in Ubaldo's garden. His bonsai trees are not for sale but are certainly available for those who wish to visit his home and receive a guided tour, in which he will explain in great detail all the characteristics of each of his bonsai trees.

Bonsai White Flower
Bonsai Groceros Remitentis
Bonsai Mirto



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