So what are the cri6cal items /points to consider in a bonsai design? And frankly who gives a damn?
Sure you can ‘grow’ bonsai type plants and keep them healthy and sustain them. But are they really considered bonsai ( primarily in world class terms?) Then who really cares? Does the style maIer? I like the way my trees look… And who says we have to go by Japanese rules?
“Well, I’m no expert/master per say” but I do have 40 years Of growing plants that sort of look like bonsai. “Ok, so how do you ‘qualify’ that statement?” Through fully understanding the parameters of not only good design but “Bonsai Design” that is of world class origin.
But what’s the diﬀerence? “I grow trees in pots and they are nice and compact and yeppers look great! They are healthy and do what they’re supposed to do so hey, I’m A bonsai grower!” Pssssssst: “HEY THEY LOOK LIKE BUSHES IN POTS….NOT BONSAI”
Here’s a seedling of about 10yrs. Do we consider this as bonsai?
What you don’t see here is about 20yrs of growth in the ground. Yes, grow the tree in the open Ground. Root prune every few years With a sharp-‐shooter spade. Shape and style in a overall General paIern. Pinch terminal buds every fall. Let grow unabated. 1975-‐1990 Is it a bonsai yet?
1) We need to know a few principles of design A) height and width are important and have rela6onships with the propor6ons of the pot B) The basic propor6on of the pot reﬂect approximately 2/3 of the height. C) The thickness or height of the pot from the table surface to the lip is the same as the width or dimension of the ‘nebari’ (surface root spread at base of the trunk) D) Loca6on of the centerline of the trunk in rela6on to the pot is cri6cal. Too much trouble for me to bother with all this….. I like my trees the way they are! “Ok, big deal so what’s the point….?”
Height and Width and size of pot Ideal height of most upright or slanted upright Should be 6 x the base of the nebari. Correct dimensions of the pot for this “Chokkan” or formal upright is 2/3 height of the tree is the base dimension of the pot. And the height or lip of the pot should be 1x the basal root or nebari. Placement in the pot should be lej or right and slightly Back of centerline longitudinally
This tree has propor6ons Closer to height/ Width/thickness detail, although Not yet correct. (A7er some study the tree was reposi:oned in another container about 1999) This tree will need at least another ﬁve years of development before the design is fully established
Time for repolng! But when? And newly poIed beginning bonsai…how? Add some of the fungii found In the old soil to your fresh mix! Correct drainage is cri6cal for pines along with a lean mix.
Mycorhizal mycelium Fungii : symbio6c real6onship with the tree
Styling a Juniper into A simple cascade First polng not the best propor6ons but ﬁne for the job.
Points to Remember • Selec6on of species in rela6on to pot • Selec6on of the speciﬁc tree and how it will Be trained, styled etc. Chokkan, Slant, Bunjin.. • Height/width/nebari dimensions • Pot and style/height/width • Overall health of the tree…long term. (don’t rush to pot a tree that needs more root development) • Ajer care for pines is FULL SUN, water well and let thoroughly dry out between waterings. (if slightly damp do NOT water pines.) And Lastly a poli:cal message brought to you by:
• Four Seasons Bonsai Club is a founding member of the John Naka Pavilion in Washington DC. Please consider suppor6ng the Na6onal Bonsai Founda6on annually.
And Here’s Ms. Kathryn all grown up 20 + years later!
Juniper shown at Birthday Celebra6on for Emperor of Japan
Consul General, Japan congratulates Vance at Henry Ford Museum 2004