Thanh was recognized on December 20 by the Vietnam Record Association for being “the creator of the most upended bonsai works in Vietnam.”

His 60-square-meter terrace is occupied by numerous pots of bonsai, painstakingly arranged into lines.

Thanh takes care of his bonsai. Photo: Duc Tai / Tuoi Tre

Le Thanh takes care of his bonsai in Tam Ky City, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Photo: Duc Tai / Tuoi Tre

After years of working and traveling, Thanh settled back in his hometown in 1997, and awakened his passion for collecting bonsai.

One time, while visiting north-central Quang Binh Province in 2010, he was attracted to the sight of a tree growing in a cave.

“It grows upside down with roots stabling the cave arch,” Thanh recollected.

“Since then, I have researched ways to prune and train plants that way.”

The terrace is where he showcases his beloved creations – upside-down bonsai trees.

The elevated garden, for Thanh, is worth more than a fortune.

“It evokes childhood memories,” he said.

“There was the time that my dearest fish died as I was too indifferent, not properly taking care of it.

“The morose event has reminded me to pay proper attention to whatever I’m up to, especially to the art of bonsai.”

At first, Thanh’s works were in small sizes.

He has gradually cultivated miniature replicas of full-grown trees and living landscapes with different types of trees, including jackfruits, roses, and orchids.

“Against all odds, even being hung upside-down, plants struggle to survive and grow, same as humans in adversity,” said Thanh, pruning his trees.

“There will always be a way.”

A bonsai work cultivated by Thanh. Photo: Duc Tai / Tuoi Tre

A bonsai work cultivated by Le Thanh. Photo: Duc Tai / Tuoi Tre

Thanh’s bonsai works, including some 50 potted plants, are applauded by gardening enthusiasts for their complicated and outstanding shapes which are impossible to duplicate.

He plans to further develop the practice of cultivating bonsai by using different types of pots to uplift the experiences of displaying and contemplating the works.

On December 8, Thanh published a poem collection entitled ‘Rhyming for My Plants’ to reflect on the journey he had embarked on with his works that entail both happiness and sadness.

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