BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO 

Scientists have found compelling evidence showing that gardening improves a person’s mental health. Through gardening, people can focus their attention on the immediate tasks at hand and the details around them, reducing negative thoughts and feelings.

Although there are several published studies supporting this data, people tend to discover it through experience. 

Edward Y. Domingo, a civil engineer currently working as an entrepreneur, learned about the link of gardening to mental health back in 2015. During that time, he felt depressed and decided to look for other ways to divert his attention.

To get his mind off his mental health problem, Domingo decided to look for a distraction. Bonsais piqued his attention and has since become his stress reliever.

“I remember passing by Quezon City Circle and visiting the area where you could find lots of plants, garden supplies, and bonsais. I was in awe of the beauty of such a plant and also got to meet a lot of people there with a passion for bonsais who later became my friends,” Domingo said. 

He was captivated by the way enthusiasts shared their knowledge about bonsais. Most importantly, he was amused by the way the bonsais were designed, which were the products of the gardeners’ creativity. 

“They are unique and very different from most plants you would see. The art and the process of making bonsais are fulfilling, especially when you get to see its beautiful result,” he said. 

Eventually, Domingo met more bonsai enthusiasts and even started visiting bonsai exhibitions. At that time, he was inspired by the bonsai on display which made him decide to start cultivating some of his own. 

Through bonsai gardening, the entrepreneur found a productive distraction from his mental health problems.

“For me, it is a stress reliever. The beautiful bonsais, flowers, landscapes, and all the greenery creates that serene and peaceful atmosphere that everyone truly loves,” he said. 

Creating a bonsai paradise 

Domingo has been dabbling in bonsai since then. He learned the basics and techniques of bonsai making through experience, tips from friends who share the same interest, reading books, and watching tutorials on YouTube.

Over the years, Domingo’s bonsai collection grew. He later established Red Theodore Bonsai Flower Farm where his bonsai are on display. The farm was opened to the public on January 2021.

As the entrepreneur’s interest grew, so did his bonsai collection. He later established Red Theodore Bonsai Flower Farm as a result of his hobby and the fulfillment of his goal of creating a bonsai paradise in Ramon, Isabela. 

“Here, we create bonsais from bare materials. Over the years, we were able to produce hundreds and even more bonsais and flowering plants with the landscape,” he said. 

Domingo has managed to transform different kinds of trees into bonsai. His collection includes bantigue, argao, molave, ficus, kamuning, bignay, agoho, bluebell, masang, pandakak, pine, kulasi, santan, and even bougainvillea.

Domingo made bonsai from different kinds of trees. This includes flowering ones like bougainvillea.

He even transformed fruit-bearing trees like tamarind and blackberries into bonsai. 

With such a collection, Domingo felt that it needed to be shared with others. In January 2021, he opened the bonsai farm to the public so people can visit and appreciate his work and the beauty of bonsai. 

The entrepreneur also developed the farm further by adding more amenities such as a park, picnic areas, and an events place to encourage both kids and adults to visit.

Amenities like a park and playground were added to Red Theodore Bonsai Flower Farm to encourage kids and adults to visit.

Bonsai making requires passion and dedication 

According to Domingo, cultivating bonsai from bare materials is challenging. Gardeners need to be knowledgeable and skilled to make sure that it’s done properly. Maintaining them is also another struggle since bonsais are high maintenance and require more funds than the plants commonly found in gardens. 

“You need lots of patience as making bonsais takes quite a long time to perfect. It could even take years,” he said.

When making bonsai, Domingo emphasizes the need for gardeners and enthusiasts to be patient.

For Domingo, bonsai cultivation is not for those who easily give up when things get hard. He said that gardeners need to have passion and dedication to cultivate bonsai. 

He again emphasized the value of patience because bonsai cultivation takes a lot of time, from growing to wiring and continuously rewiring them from time to time to improve their appearance. 

There are many benefits to gardening. Among them is improving a person’s mental health. Domingo learned this when he started gardening and bonsai cultivation to battle depression. And because of his dedication and passion for the craft, what started as a distraction became a flourishing hobby for him that he now wants to share with the world through Red Theodore Bonsai Flower Farm. 

For more information, visit Red Theodore Bonsai Flower Farm on Facebook

Photos courtesy of Edward Y. Domingo