Tag Archives: style

Styles of Bonsai

cedar-forestThere are many styles of Bonsai and all refer to natural styles in nature. Many have Japanese names such as Ikadabuki, Netsuranari, Nebari and Shari. These terms have become generic although originating in Japan and they work in the same way as Latin terminology works with garden plants. It allows everyone, no matter what country he or she is in to understand each other.

In China where the other great art of Penjing, the Chinese name for Bonsai, originated they have many styles reflecting the landscape in the many regions that these styles are commonly seen in nature. The five main regions of China have within these regions a number of forms.

My point is that while we grow Bonsai or Penjing outside Japan or China, we have to work with our own native trees and try and reflect the styles that we see around us in our own countries landscapes. This means that we should be taking the opportunity to create unique styles of American, Australian, African or Scottish Bonsai and not just Japanese or Chinese styles.

John Yoshio Naka, a great American Japanese teacher and authority on styles and size definitions, identified both the major styles and heights, which help us, determinate the style descriptions.  John is no longer with us and like many others having studied with him over the years, I was taught these styles by John and I have put his descriptions in the following chart. This is a good start to the understanding of the names in both Japanese and in English. Chinese styles have their own terminology. I teach in many different countries where English is not the prime language so the terminology is useful as everyone will understand Chokkan rather than Formal Upright. I prefer using the English terminology in English speaking countries though.

 

Japanese Name English Name
Chokkan Formal Upright No curves or bends in trunk
Moyogi Informal Upright –Trunk changing direction.
Shakan Slanted
Sho-Shakan Small Slant
Chu-Shakan Medium Slant
Dai-Shakan Extreme Slant
Hankan Very coiled trunk
Fukinagashi Windswept
Bankan Old coiled trunk
Saba kan Hollow trunk
Shari Kan Exposed deadwood on the trunk- Shari miki dead wood with dead branch stumps like fish bones
Neijikan Twisted in wind trunk and- or – branches
Kobukan Lumpy trunk, gnarled with age
Kengai Cascade.
Han Kengai Semi cascade
Dai Kengai Straight cascade, extreme or long.
Gaito Kengai A tree that is on the edge and cascades with a round Ju Shin, apex.
Taki Kengai A cascade changing direction
Ito Kengai Multiple thin cascades
Takan Kengai Twin or more trunks cascade
Netsuranari Raft style from roots
Ikada Raft style of trees from fallen trunk
Ikadabuki Raft style from a fallen tree, branches takes root.
Soju Twin trunks
Sokan Two trunks of differing size from single root
Yose-uye(pr. Yohsay-ooay) Forest / group style
Tako Zukuri Octopus style. Very twisted branches and trunk
Ishi-zuke Root over rock
Ne-agari Exposed root style-erosion exposed roots
Hoki dachi Broom style. Fan shape with even growth
Bunjin Literati. Similar to elegant Sumi paintings long trunk with slight growth at top. Not heavy
Some Trees in Japanese English Names. I have listed just a few here for general reference
Momji or Kaede Maple
Sugi Japanese Cedar
Keyaki Japanese Grey Bark Elm
Ichijiku Fig
Shide or Soro Hornbeam
Goyo-Matsu (mats) Five needle white pine (also Pinus pentaphylla)
Kuro-Matsu (mats) Japanese Black Pine, two needles
Shimpaku Juniper. The most popular Juniper grown as Bonsai
Kashu Shimpaku California Juniper. Also Utah and other similar species such as Western Juniper and Common Juniper (communis)
Benishitan Cotoneaster
Botangi Buttonwood. Silver Buttonwood. From warmer climes in America, Florida etc.
Kashi, Kunugi, Oak. Many varieties
Maki Podocarpus pine
Satsuki Flowering Azalea. Kurume Azaleas
Ezo-Matsu Spruce, Japanese. Jezo, Ezo or Yezo spruce
Ichii Yew. Japanese, American or English
Sarusuberi Crepe Myrtle
Tsuge Box. Stiff when old but great for Bonsai
Other Terms*
Ara-kawacho & Arakawa Rough bark
Mastu (Mats) Pine Bonsai
Ju –Shin Top of a Bonsai tree
Shoki Collected Bonsai that is  well established as a Bonsai
Yamadori* Collected Natural material for Bonsai or Natural Bonsai not yet refined into a Bonsai
Tangei Bonsai material or material good for making Bonsai
Bonsai A tree in a tray or container-From the Chinese Pentsai-later Sung Dynasty.
Bonkei Landscapes with other plants, animals figures, buildings etc. In China its Pentsai.
BonsekiBonsekei Landscape planting but no figures Only rocks, moss and trees.
Uro Hole in trunk with healed edges
Nebari * Surface Roots
Saba miki Split trunk
Shari kan Bark split from trunk
Shari, * & Shari Miki Exposed areas on trunkDead trunk areas with jinned twigs sticking out like spines
Jin,  & Jinn * Jinning Exposed areas on branches or tipsTo remove bark and create dead wood
Dai Table to display a Bonsai
Daiza Shaped Table or a base for a Suiseki

 

  • · common terms

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Bonsai heights and names

 

Many years ago John taught us that we need to have a structure of size descriptions as well. Bonsai come in a variety of heights ranging from one inch up to six feet. Essentially the larger Bonsai are known as Garden Bonsai or Yard Trees while most Bonsai are of a reasonable size around a maximum of 40 inches. In some instances trees that require two persons to carry it are simply big trees in pots and not accepted (in some quarters) as true Bonsai. Nothing is fixed as to what is a Bonsai however and this size chart is a guideline.

 

Sizes are measured from soil level to the Apex of the Bonsai. The right size of pot to enhance the tree acts as a frame to a picture. It should be seen but not seen. A pot should not take over from the tree but have a quiet elegance in its own right. A pot should not be a distraction.

One inch = 2.5 Centimetres

 

Height Name English or other Name
1” Keishi Tsubo Thimble size –Within the Shohin category
1-3” Shito Mini size-very small-Within the Shohin category
3-6”
Mame*
Mini size –Within the Shohin category
6-8”
Shohin*
Katade –Small Size also Gafu-Bonsai, or  Miyabi-Bonsai. (Gafu is a term for excellent small sized Bonsai)
8- 16”
Kifu
Sho or Kifu – Small to medium size
16-24”
Chu
Chuhin Medium Size
24-40”
Dai
Also Oomono – Both terms mean Large Size but Oomono means a large size that can be carried by one man.
41—65” Very large sized Bonsai. Sometimes termed as Yard Bonsai. Needs two men to carry this size. Not always accepted as Bonsai in Competition (subjective)

Article by Craig Coussins©   

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Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees

(c) Dan Robinson
(c) Dan Robinson

As you read this book you can feel the emotion of understanding, an understanding that bonds the ‘Author to the Artist‘.
From the moment that Will and Dan first met, when Dan explained to Will the true pronunciation of the word
Bonsai, as Bone-sigh and not Bonzai (The karate kid yelled voice with a chop to match), this friendship was moulded.

This book is more than a story of a life enriched by trees. It is a descriptive piece that leads you the reader into an understanding of this great American pioneer, a depiction that details the challenges in Dan’s life in more than just creating ’Gnarly’ masterpieces.

The main character, the artist, the champ as we used to say for our favourite western flicks is known to his peers as the ’Picasso of Bonsai’, a pioneer who coined the phrase ’Phoenix Grafts’. A ‘Phoenix Graft’ is a technique were you bond a dead tree with a younger tree using various techniques.

Dan is also known as the man who changed the traditional styling of Bonsai to new techniques back in 78’. Very much a western style, a controversial technique using power tools for designing and crafting his trees, it is a technique that has been adopted globally since.

The imaginary in this book is awe inspiring, it is an inspirational piece of work that will bring you through the journey of this great man’s life.

(c) Craig Coussins
(c) Craig Coussins
There was a Bonsai Master in Japan in the mid 20th century . His name was Kitamura. He had a small but important school and his philosophy was to buy Bonsai , deconstruct these and create a more natural tree image. Far too many wonderful and well know Bonsai are artifice. They are indeed beautiful but they do not look like trees.
What Dan Robinson does at one end of the spectrum is allow a tree to develop naturally with some controls as to the shape. However, what Dan does is collect very old Yamadori that he keeps alive and just allows these to continue in style along the lines from which it was growing naturally. Dan can crate a Bonsai in as accepted a style as any other experienced master but he tries to retain the natural image of the collected tree. Based on his methodology of the age of these Yamadori, some are in excess of 1000 years old. What in any ones name would you wish to do to a tree that was already a dwarfed by nature tree other than appreciate the image of the tree itself.
I have many Yamadori as do many growers, but many of the trees that we collected need forming , branches need to be grown, buds developed and at last we can see the tree in the wood. Just look at some of my books and you will see what I mean. Branches on great trunks may be long whippy things and I need to inarch and graft, bend and shape the branch into an acceptable (to me as the artist) shape of a tree in nature. Not a highly sculpted shape that bears little resemblance to what I am used to IN MY AREA. And that is the key. I create trees that I am comfortable with. Trees that I see around me.
When I teach in other countries I create trees that I see in that area. . I try to make the image into a tree. I use every technique available to me to get to that point but I always try to end up with a tree that I can see outside in the mountains, valets and even the fields. I should stipulate that what I mean is that I try to make trees that are nice trees in nature. Yes, I realise that many trees in nature are a mess but I am not talking about those. You have seen many trees that are lovely-again look at the trees in my books which I photograph in Nature and you will see and hopefully, agree with me.
That was what Kitamura was trying to do. He wanted to make small trees not ornamental shrubs with spectacular trunks and little else to say ’I am a tree’

Article by Craig Coussins on Dan Robinson.

There was a Bonsai Master in Japan in the mid 20th century . His name was Kitamura. He had a small but important school and his philosophy was to buy Bonsai , deconstruct these and create a more natural tree image. Far too many wonderful and well know Bonsai are artifice. They are indeed beautiful but they do not look like trees.

What Dan Robinson does at one end of the spectrum is allow a tree to develop naturally with some controls as to the shape. However, what Dan does is collect very old Yamadori that he keeps alive and just allows these to continue in style along the lines from which it was growing naturally. Dan can crate a Bonsai in as accepted a style as any other experienced master but he tries to retain the natural image of the collected tree. Based on his methodology of the age of these Yamadori, some are in excess of 1000 years old. What in any ones name would you wish to do to a tree that was already a dwarfed by nature tree other than appreciate the image of the tree itself.

I have many Yamadori as do many growers, but many of the trees that we collected need forming , branches need to be grown, buds developed and at last we can see the tree in the wood. Just look at some of my books and you will see what I mean. Branches on great trunks may be long whippy things and I need to inarch and graft, bend and shape the branch into an acceptable (to me as the artist) shape of a tree in nature. Not a highly sculpted shape that bears little resemblance to what I am used to IN MY AREA. And that is the key. I create trees that I am comfortable with. Trees that I see around me.

When I teach in other countries I create trees that I see in that area. . I try to make the image into a tree. I use every technique available to me to get to that point but I always try to end up with a tree that I can see outside in the mountains, valets and even the fields. I should stipulate that what I mean is that I try to make trees that are nice trees in nature. Yes, I realise that many trees in nature are a mess but I am not talking about those. You have seen many trees that are lovely-again look at the trees in my books which I photograph in Nature and you will see and hopefully, agree with me.

That was what Kitamura was trying to do. He wanted to make small trees not ornamental shrubs with spectacular trunks and little else to say ’I am a tree’  (By Craig Coussins)

(c) Will Hiltz Nara Publishers
(c) Will Hiltz Nara Publishers

In Hawaii they call it “mana.” In Japan it is known as “ki.” This is the life force contained within man, animals and the plant world. It is the reason why the power of touch is healing. Those who possess such a touch along with an artistic bent and an innate respect for the natural world have the ability to create great beauty.

Dan Robinson is such a person. His gentle hands sculpt, nurture, caress and coax tiny and sometimes wizened bonsai trees into delicate works of art. His life force connects with the trees and they respond.  Now, with his new book “Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees” Dan is sharing his creations, and a good portion of his life, with the world. Follow the pages as the “Tree Guy” reminisces about his early days when his life force was new, but untrained. Discover the artist behind the art, the philosophies of a man arguably more in tune with trees than with fellow humans. Follow him as he searches for new trees in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and brings them back to be part of his seven acre Elanden Gardens.

Dan views each of his bonsai trees as an independent spirit. He respects the mana of the tree and understands that by caring for and respecting that tree, it will return the favor by putting it best “trunk” forward. Proper bonsai form is sometimes trumped by a tree’s penchant to grow a certain way, creating something more beautiful than the artist might imagine. Sometimes the tree knows best.

Within the pages of “Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees” are stunning photographs of bonsai trees that have been nurtured to perfection. Some are older than the artist, but in a tree’s world, that is still young. At times it might be hard to tell whether Dan or the trees take center stage in the book. Since they have shared their life force to create such beauty, there really is no difference. This is not only a charmingly told tale about a man and his trees and the ancient art of bonsai, it is a love story. (Review by Monica Wachmann)

This above pre-release reviews were based on limited information received from the Publishers ‘Nara Press’. We have been invited to do a full review after the book is published in early October. We would like to thank Will Hiltz, The Author, Chief Photographer and Publisher of ‘Gnarley Branches, Ancient Trees’ for permission to use these images.

So as they say ‘Watch this space” for more book reviews.


How small can a Bonsai get!

It is true that Bonsai are miniaturised versions of the wild things that can be found on the edge of famous lakes and gardens or seen hanging off the edge of cliffs. But did you know that Bonsai too have their miniature versions!

These Bonsai are commonly known as Shohin and Mame.

Shohin is a Japanese word that means ‘tiny thing’ and in Bonsai this means that the tree has to be within a certain size to qualify as a Shohin. So the rule is that the tiny-thing must be 35 cm wide and 21 cm high.

Mame are another thing. These can be between 10 to 15 cm. These are also called ‘mini-bonsai’.

Some Bonsai classifications:

  • Up to 2.5 cm high: Keishi
  • Up to 7.5 cm high: Shito
  • Up to 15 cm high: Mame
  • Up to 40 cm high: Kifu Sho
  • Up to 60 cm high: Chu
  • Up to 100 cm high: Dai

Creating Mame Bonsai

Creating Mame is a very difficult task. It’s challenging enough training a normal Bonsai tree, but these Mame are incredibly small.

One of the most important aspect of growing Mame or any Bonsai is to understand your tree and its growing habits.

Selecting the right species for your small bonsai adventure is very crucial to its success. Ideally you should go for a plant with naturally small leaves; this will make it easier to train the bonsai as it grows. Due to their extremely small size it would be very difficult to trim the leaves and roots, you could use a magnifying glass to help you whilst carrying out these activities on your plant. Best plants to use, are the Chinese Elm or Cotoneaster. These have naturally small leaves and would be best to start off with.

Another important aspect of growing your Mame is choosing the right kind of pot. You would need to get an equally small pot to give your bonsai the effect of miniaturisation. Watering such small bonsai is a difficult task. You could easily over water these plants, as the pot sizes are small and it becomes difficult to gauge the exact amount of water required by the plants. To create a moist atmosphere for your tree, keep the pot buried in damp sand, only to bring out for presentations.  However your Mame cannot completely do without water.

Considering the fact that Mame Bonsai do not have a lot of growth to support, fertilizers should be used less than you would use with normal Bonsai. It’s probably best practise to dilute your fertilizers.

Since the size of the pot is small, the amount of soil is also very less. As a result of this the soil looses its fertility very early. Hence you must repot the Mame more frequently than you do repotting for normal bonsai trees. The average repot time for normal bonsai is every two years. See Repotting Bonsai.

For more information on Shohin Bonsai, check out Shohin Bonsai Europe.



Bonsai Care Tips

BONSA~10 Aftercare and development of Bonsai

 

While understanding the fact we need to water, feed and repot from time to time, the most important aspect of Bonsai and Penjing care is the maintenance or ongoing after care.

  1. Wiring a tree and unwiring is a regular event and takes place in most species once a year and sometimes twice in warmer countries with different and fast growing species.
  2. Checking wires to ensure that it is not biting onto the structure is an ongoing and daily chore.
  3. Cutting the wire off stage by stage is necessary-usually from the strongest parts first such as apex, tips of branches etc.
  4. A regime of correct feeding will need to take place to make sure that the tree is healthy.
  5. Checking for insects is an ongoing and daily part of the cycle which will include a soil drench to combat sub surface pests.
  6. Turning the tree around every week to make sure that equal growth is happening.
  7. Removing moss from lower trunk area and nebari-surface roots. Both to stop dampness on the bark and insects being harboured in that area.
  8. Weed removal is also a weekly chore and this is important to increase the amount of food available to the tree rather than the weeds.
  9. Placement through the year to either gain light or reduce light such as in mid summer days when the trees may need some shade.
  10. Constant pruning of tops unless growing onto a shape. Tip pruning is to encourage new twigs and so increase ramification or twig structure development.
  11. Taking photographs twice a year, in leaf and out of leaf if a deciduous tree. This is to let you see the development of the tree.
  12. Protection in cooler climates over winter or on high elevations on cooler climates throughout the year where frost can hit any time in the year.

Article written by Craig Coussins and from his fourth book, Bonsai Masterclass-available from Amazon.

Craig Coussins  designs a Hinoki Cypress

It does not matter what the tree is that you design but this example shows the potential of a basic garden plant into a Bonsai.

Hinoki Cypress-Chamaecyparis obtusa. This was  designed at the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies. The bush was grown as a garden plant but was purchased to make a Bonsai. I spent the previous day preparing the tree, wiring all the branches etc, which left me time to explain what I was doing and how I was to do it. I believe that many potentially good Bonsai are lost when not enough effort is put into the demonstration. When I am privileged to be invited for a major event I insist on getting the previous day to prep large material and take the time to study it. Its not about showing off and making a bonsai suddenly appear in an hour. Its about creating art and making sure that it stays alive at the end of it. Perhaps entertaining my audience as well. Cant do those if I am not sure what I want to do with the material. I enjoy finding the tree in the wood!

Images are in Sequence see my website

There are a number of other stylings here

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Watering-essential information

Elm-forest-by-Craig-1992I would like to go into this with a little more depth, as it is very important. One of the big killers of bonsai in incorrect watering. I am sometimes weary of people that still wish to immerse pots into buckets of water in every case or do not think it’s necessary to mist the foliage.  After nearly thirty years I probably manage the watering side fairly well – or at least my wife does these days, if I am  away teaching somewhere in the world.

The roots may become either dried or rotten because of too little water or too much water.

A free draining soil will assist in the transition of water through the pot. A compacted soil is obvious as water will collect on the surface. Ideally, when you water the Bonsai the water will flow freely through the soil.

Keep the soil moist in the summer but water less in winter. In winter just keep the soil damp and do not let it dry out.  Bonsai is not a cactus and needs a damp soil to keep the roots alive through its dormant period.

In most cool to temperate climates, watering once a day during the growing period is enough, but just check your soil. In hotter months watering will need to be done up to three times a day. If in a hot country, leave the trees in some shade for part of the day to keep the tree cooler. In some countries hot winds can also damage the tree by drying it out very quickly.

If your soils surface is looking a bit on the light coloured side it’s probably dry. However check just under the surface.

How to water your Bonsai.

Automatic watering systems are very popular and reasonably easy to set up.  Use a sequenced automatic time switch, sometimes called a ‘Computer Watering System’ but are really simple timers that start and shut off the water in a desired sequence.  This is good when you want to water some of the trees at a certain time and more than once a day in hot weather. You can rig up the hoses to a gadget sometimes called an octopus that has around six to eight hose attachment nipples and these can then be set to go off in a sequence that allows a different hose to water a different section, the next time the timer starts. It’s quite easy, as the timer can be set to go on and off six times through the day and if one section needs watering twice, then you attach a Y piece to two shorter hoses at different sides of the octopus.  Here is what I set up in my own place.

One and six waters the deciduous trees for 10 minutes each. The timer is set to 7am and 5pm.

Two comes on after one and waters the pines and conifers for six minutes in hot weather. Set for 4pm.

Three comes on after that and waters the Ficus and Willows etc –water loving plants, for 12 minutes. Set for 4.30pm

Four then comes on and waters the trees growing in beds, Yamadori etc. Set for 5pm

Five waters the rest of the garden plants and borders. Set for 5.30pm

If I need to water during the day in exceptional heat I can do so by hose without touching the Computer as the water faucet is rigged with a split tap to allow a separate hose connector.

 

The kit comprises a Water computer timer, a multiple hose distributor unit for six hoses and a water reducer that changes the flow from the hose into the narrower hose for the drip feeder nipples. I also use different nipples that allow different rates of water to travel through the feeder nipples from one litre an hour to ten litres an hour.

The one thing that is not good about auto systems is their reliability. The drip feeds can clog or stop working, battery powered ones are less reliable than mains powered, junctions in the piping may come apart when pressured up suddenly after softening in the sun on a warm day. They still water when the tree does not need any during rainy spells. Some systems I have looked at have a ‘cloudy day ‘ feature but it can be very warm on a cloudy day and the soil may still need water. Therefore, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You turn that feature off and the tree will be watered if it needs or does not need it.  Now all that is not too bad some of the time in a hot climate as the temperature is more than likely to be constant and so the trees will need watering anyway as rain would be rare in the warmer seasons. In humid climates the system is not so good of course. In any case the soil should be free draining and the water should run through fast of course. Use wooden wedges to tilt the Bonsai that need less water and will benefit from free runoff such as conifers.  Just ensure that the pot and wedge are secure and unlikely to topple of the bench. Alternatively, remove the drips from the pots every other day.

More expensive systems are available that have a sensor to determine moisture levels in the soil. Even these aren’t completely satisfactory, as one trees water needs may be radically different from another’s.

Automatic watering systems are not a great problem though and can be a benefit if you are off on vacation. The only thing you need to ask your neighbour is to just check that all the pots are being watered and that the soil is damp. Point out the potential weaknesses in the system and a good neighbour should manage.

Using a hose:

I still need to use a hose in other locations and I always attach an adjustable trigger spray or multi-spray unit to the hose. Water pressure is crucial here and if you have a lot of trees you will need to have a powerful spray that is still fine enough not to wash the soil out or damage the buds.

Hose spraying is most growers normal method of watering as this can be a more controlled way of making sure the right trees get what they need. Use the adjustable trigger spray to control intensity of water delivery. Feeder units that are supplied by most of the major plant food companies can also be added easily.  Just make sure that you do not overfeed. I prefer using pellet feed such as Biogold. This is a rather expensive Japanese food but is excellent at developing fine feeder roots.

 

Winter and summer watering.

This depends on the climate requirements.. Essentially you may water anywhere from once to three times in any one day. I would suggest that it may be better to water twice on a hot day and mist once or twice damping down the benching and ground to create some humidity around the Bonsai or Penjing. Not essential in cooler months. Essential for species that have fine needles like Junipers

Misting the foliage

Misting is giving the foliage a fine spray. While part of the general watering, spraying the foliage acts like rain. If you have warm days the foliage may dry up through dehydration. Misting will replenish the moisture in most cases. Extra misting can be very important in warmer climates, in hot weather and under shade net. Pine – Pinus need more misting that deciduous. Species outside India that are dense such as Cryptomeria and Sequoia need daily misting while others need misting every two or three days. Misting will clean the leaves, reduce pests and, as Chase Rosade the famous master once said, highlights the small webs of spider mite. Deciduous trees can trap water between the leaves and it’s therefore best to spray deciduous trees once a week or three times in hot weather. Water droplets will not act as magnifying glasses and burn the leaves. That is a myth. In colder climates, misting is rarely done in winter. In these cooler climates, the soil is kept just barely damp through the winter months. Many deciduous trees need very little light and water when under winter storage, though there is the danger of a tendency to forget all about them. Just remind yourself to check them at least once a week. I will reiterate that while misting is not the only watering given, it forms part of the general overall watering programme and if you grow tropical trees then you will need to mist two or three times a day.

Sub Tropical

This climate is more humid and while experiencing little colder weather, some cold days can still occur. The rainy season is generally more prevalent and the summers can be extremely hot. However, in many places the humidity levels can also be a factor in this climate.

 

Tropical. Mountains and lowlands

This climate does not experience cooler weather unless there are mountains where the cooler air can get to these peaks. I find that Bonsai and Penjing growers have seen changes in weather conditions recently that can be partially attributed to what is happening in warmer climates. I would like to discuss the general climatic changes that the globe is experiencing and comment on the results of these changes . I teach Bonsai  in many countries and I live in Scotland. We have seen a marked change in temperatures, humidity levels and rainfall over the most recent years. I am an avid photographer of landscapes and have been very fortunate to travel to many countries both as a Bonsai teacher and as a photographer. The reduction of natural habitat is in, my opinion, a very serious issue and we should be aware of the changes caused by deforestation around the world.

Deforestation is causing climate changes as is other factors. This means that temperate and cooler areas are having warmer, and sometimes wetter, weather than they had in previous years. Many very hot countries have high mountains such as Nepal with its vast mountainous terrain and deep jungles in the lowlands. In Africa, where the plains can be very dry in the summer months, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, celebrated by Ernest Hemingway in “The Snows of the Kilimanjaro” have inspired many writers is, due to its altitude, permanently covered in snow. Climate is changing all the time but this particular ice cap will probably disappear by 2020 due to the deforestation of the lower slopes for pasture. This causes a change in the microclimate of the mountain. That indicator will mean that other mountains from across the globe with glacial ice caps will lose their ice caps if similar deforestation to create grazing areas at the mountains base happens elsewhere.
Using this analogy I remember my own Bonsai teacher talking about microclimates nearly thirty years ago and teaching us that each area, each bench and each pot can have its own microclimate. What you do to that tree can affect the trees microclimate. Understand the trees microclimate and you will understand what it is telling you. Short of talking to the trees, I suppose that learning everything about what affects us in climate and conditions is the only way that we will understand what the Bonsai are saying.

In the case of worldwide deforestation, this apparently could create higher temperatures in some parts of the world causing loss of ice caps, rising waters and in some cases more rain. We can do very little about these changes but we should be aware of the climate changes that may affect us in the short term. Recently we have seen some countries with exceptional storms, high winds, freezing winters, excessive rain and unusual weather patterns. Farmers in some temperate countries have lost crops through excessive rainfall.

Anything that I suggest in caring for your trees should therefore be read with the understanding that the weather really is beyond my control.

Article written by Craig Coussins©

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Bonsai Styles

slanting

Once you have mastered the basic bonsai styles such as the formal upright style of chokkan, the informal upright style of shakan and the cascade style of kengai, you may want to try some more advanced bonsai styles for a better challenge.


Image courtesy of  Jacques Graulus

Intermediate Bonsai artists may try some of the more common advanced styles such as the Bankan (Twisted), the Fukinagashi (Windswept), or the Bunjin (Literati). Here’s a brief explanation of each.

Bankan (Twisted)

Thought to have originated in China, this style features trunks that are twisted and gnarled. Some expert artists can even form them Into animal shapes, the dragon being the most popular in Japan.

There are some styles to the Bankan which include the Nejikan with a trunk is only partially turned. Another style, the Takzukuri, is also called the octopus and in this style the trunk is quite twisted with the branches following it in the shape of a vortex. This style emulates the natural wind which shapes the full-size species of the tree.

Fukinagashi (Windswept)

This style is an attempt to emulate nature’s effects on the tree but in miniature.

In the Fukinagashi style, the trunk is slanted as if it has been blown by a strong wind coming from one direction. The branches follow suit in that direction as a result of the bent growth.

This can be seen in areas near a class or a hill such as coastal regions. In these areas Fukinagashi is formed by nature. netsuranari

of course, the bonsai artist cannot emulate a forceful wind and must use different means to cause the plant to grow in one direction. One could use wire, although this is most often used for the branches, and use a cord tied to a stake to force the tree to grow in the direction you want.

Often times, the bonsai artist who makes sure the foliage is sparse to emulate the natural conditions where leaves would’ve been blown away by the strong winds.

Bunjin (Literati)

This is one of the most popular bonsai styles and no it is simple, it is deceptively difficult. The style consists of a thin trunk with very few branches and is inspired by Chinese paintings that show trees growing in a harsh climate. While this might sound sparse it produces rather dramatic results.

The trunk has frequent twists and branches come out at sharp upward angles giving the tree a different view from every angle. A popular species for the Bunjin style is the Japanese Red Pine but it can be done using many other types of trees.

These advanced styles require a lot of skill and patience so they would be quite frustrating for the novice bonsai artists. However, once you are bored with the basics you might want to try your hand at these styles which will reward your skill and patience with beauty.

Article by Lee Dobbins

Pop Bonsai, a new style.

Recently I came across a great book, which gave details of new freelance style of Bonsai called ‘Pop Bonsai‘.

Pop Bonsai involves training a seedling by trimming its branches and leaves, and wiring the trunk and branches to bend them into almost any style as you would with traditional Bonsai. The difference is the presentation is completely refreshing. Your living work of art, can be presented in a ball of moss, on a can of beer or even in a pair of shoes. (clean ones of course!) You will of require some basic bonsai techniques and advice on looking after plants.

The Pop Bonsai book does present techniques on styling and maintenance from the basics up.

So who is the creator of Pop Bonsai.

Lisa Tajima started to study bonsai with a traditional master in Japan, she created her own style bonsai which she termed ‘Pop Bonsai’ and began to attract attention as a new-generation bonsai artist.
The inventiveness of her work has been recognized in a number of awards, even some from Japan’s most traditional competitions including ‘Gafu-ten’. She also makes her own containers, including “walking bonsai” ones. Her pots have been recognized in awards at Takagi Bonsai Museum in Tokyo Japan.