Customs & Culture January 12, 2015 11:44 am

Bonsai Rundown: A Quick Look


Customs & Culture January 12, 2015 11:44 am

Bonsai Rundown: A Quick Look


Tokyo Beer Guide: Summer Session

Bonsai Rundown

Bonsai, the Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers dates back over a thousand years, and has its own aesthetics and terminology. A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.

Aesthetics

Bonsai aesthetics are the aesthetic goals characterizing the Japanese tradition of growing an artistically shaped miniature tree in a container. Many Japanese cultural characteristics, in particular the influence of Zen Buddhism and the expression of Wabi-sabi, inform the bonsai tradition in Japan. Established art forms that share some aesthetic principles with bonsai include penjing and saikei. A number of other cultures around the globe have adopted the Japanese aesthetic approach to bonsai, and, while some variations have begun to appear, most hew closely to the rules and design philosophies of the Japanese tradition.

Styles of Bonsai

Care

Small trees grown in containers, like bonsai, require specialized care. Unlike houseplants and other subjects of container gardening, tree species in the wild, in general, grow roots up to several meters long and root structures encompassing several thousand liters of soil. In contrast, a typical bonsai container is under 25 centimeters in its largest dimension and 2 to 10 liters in volume. Branch and leaf (or needle) growth in trees is also of a larger scale in nature. Wild trees typically grow 5 meters or taller when mature, whereas the largest bonsai rarely exceed 1 meter and most specimens are significantly smaller. These size differences affect maturation, transpiration, nutrition, pest resistance, and many other aspects of tree biology. Maintaining the long-term health of a tree in a container requires some specialized care techniques:

  • Watering must be regular and must relate to the bonsai species’ requirement for dry, moist, or wet soil.
  • Repotting must occur at intervals dictated by the vigour and age of each tree.
  • Tools have been developed for the specialized requirements of maintaining bonsai.
  • Soil composition and fertilization must be specialized to the needs of each bonsai tree, although bonsai soil is almost always a loose, fast-draining mix of components.
  • Location and overwintering are species-dependent when the bonsai is kept outdoors as different species require different light conditions. It is important to note that few of the traditional bonsai species can survive inside a typical house, due to the usually dry indoor climate.

Techniques

The practice of bonsai development incorporates a number of techniques either unique to bonsai or, if used in other forms of cultivation, applied in unusual ways that are particularly suitable to the bonsai domain. These techniques include:

  • Leaf trimming, the selective removal of leaves (for most varieties of deciduous tree) or needles (for coniferous trees and some others) from a bonsai’s trunk and branches. Pruning the trunk, branches, and roots of the candidate tree.
  • Wiring branches and trunks allows the bonsai designer to create the desired general form and make detailed branch and leaf placements.
  • Grafting new growing material (typically a bud, branch, or root) into a prepared area on the trunk or under the bark of the tree.
  • Defoliation, which can provide short-term dwarfing of foliage for certain deciduous species.
  • Deadwood bonsai techniques called jin and shari simulate age and maturity in a bonsai.
  • Clamping using mechanical devices for shaping trunks and branches.

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Categorised in: ,

This post was written by Mathew Ryan

Bonsai Rundown

Bonsai, the Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers dates back over a thousand years, and has its own aesthetics and terminology. A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.

Aesthetics

Bonsai aesthetics are the aesthetic goals characterizing the Japanese tradition of growing an artistically shaped miniature tree in a container. Many Japanese cultural characteristics, in particular the influence of Zen Buddhism and the expression of Wabi-sabi, inform the bonsai tradition in Japan. Established art forms that share some aesthetic principles with bonsai include penjing and saikei. A number of other cultures around the globe have adopted the Japanese aesthetic approach to bonsai, and, while some variations have begun to appear, most hew closely to the rules and design philosophies of the Japanese tradition.

Styles of Bonsai

Care

Small trees grown in containers, like bonsai, require specialized care. Unlike houseplants and other subjects of container gardening, tree species in the wild, in general, grow roots up to several meters long and root structures encompassing several thousand liters of soil. In contrast, a typical bonsai container is under 25 centimeters in its largest dimension and 2 to 10 liters in volume. Branch and leaf (or needle) growth in trees is also of a larger scale in nature. Wild trees typically grow 5 meters or taller when mature, whereas the largest bonsai rarely exceed 1 meter and most specimens are significantly smaller. These size differences affect maturation, transpiration, nutrition, pest resistance, and many other aspects of tree biology. Maintaining the long-term health of a tree in a container requires some specialized care techniques:

  • Watering must be regular and must relate to the bonsai species’ requirement for dry, moist, or wet soil.
  • Repotting must occur at intervals dictated by the vigour and age of each tree.
  • Tools have been developed for the specialized requirements of maintaining bonsai.
  • Soil composition and fertilization must be specialized to the needs of each bonsai tree, although bonsai soil is almost always a loose, fast-draining mix of components.
  • Location and overwintering are species-dependent when the bonsai is kept outdoors as different species require different light conditions. It is important to note that few of the traditional bonsai species can survive inside a typical house, due to the usually dry indoor climate.

Techniques

The practice of bonsai development incorporates a number of techniques either unique to bonsai or, if used in other forms of cultivation, applied in unusual ways that are particularly suitable to the bonsai domain. These techniques include:

  • Leaf trimming, the selective removal of leaves (for most varieties of deciduous tree) or needles (for coniferous trees and some others) from a bonsai’s trunk and branches. Pruning the trunk, branches, and roots of the candidate tree.
  • Wiring branches and trunks allows the bonsai designer to create the desired general form and make detailed branch and leaf placements.
  • Grafting new growing material (typically a bud, branch, or root) into a prepared area on the trunk or under the bark of the tree.
  • Defoliation, which can provide short-term dwarfing of foliage for certain deciduous species.
  • Deadwood bonsai techniques called jin and shari simulate age and maturity in a bonsai.
  • Clamping using mechanical devices for shaping trunks and branches.

Tags: , , ,

Categorised in: ,

This post was written by Mathew Ryan