I first came across Gede Merta’s name in Peter Thali’s article, entitled Bonsai in Bali, in 2008’s “Bonsai Focus“, issue #133. The article featured several very talented Bali bonsai artists and their beautiful trees. Another article followed in the 2009 issue #122, with Master Gede showing how to create a ficus with massive trunk and good nebari by fusing together young plants and seedlings. I was curious how this fused ficus looks now, and I had the good opportunity seeing the result when my wife and I were vacationing in Bali last month. With the helps of Adhy Satya and Budi Sulistyo of the Indonesian Bonsai Society, we got in touch with Master Gede and he generously welcomed us to his nursery.
Master Gede Merta with his shohin Premna microphylla.
In Indonesia, the honorific way of addressing a person of seniority is to use the word “Pak”, which literally means “Father or Uncle”. Everyone in Bali bonsai circle addresses Gede as Pak Gede.
The Indonesian Bonsai Society (PPBI) celebrated its 35th anniversary with a grand bonsai and suiseki show, October 11-19, held simultaneously at two locations! One in Bandung city in West Java, the other in the resort island, Bali. Several international masters such as Kunio Kobayashi, Gede Merta, Ng Shing Fat, Min Hsuan Lo, were invited to give demos. Since my wife and I were going to Bali around that time, we scheduled our trip so that we could attend the show.
The PPBI has about 15,000 members and 135 chapters throughout the country. Such a large organization attests to the popularity of bonsai in this country, and no wonder, we see many outstanding trees and talented bonsai artists from Indonesia.
In Bali, the exhibition was held out door at the Badung city hall. Individual trees were displayed in rows on tables or pedestals, no companion plants nor Japanese style displays. There are two to three hundred trees, all are medium to large trees. This is an outstanding show of tropical bonsai at its best.