The Art of Bonsai
Bonsai is an original Chinese version of the classic outdoor Chinese art of water garden or Pinyin. The word for Bonsai comes from the characters for bamboo and the Chinese term for the garden and connotes to the art of cultivating miniature natural plants. Unlike traditional lending, which uses ancient methods to create whole natural forests in small containers that imitate real plant life, Bonsai uses simplified techniques that require less maintenance. In fact, the only tools you will need for Bonsai are a container and a source of light. Since most Bonsai trees require partial shade during the day, we planted Bonsai are often placed outside in areas with direct sunlight.
For a long time the art of growing Bonsai has been linked with the spiritual practice in China. Cultivating Bonsai started in the seventh century, when Chinese monks traveled to India and brought with them their expertise in growing Bonsai trees. In the seventh and eight centuries, these monks developed their own system of growing Bonsai in a controlled environment. Over the course of the next thousand years, Chinese scientists developed and passed on their knowledge to the rest of the world, teaching them how to grow Bonsai in special growing trays and pots that mimic the natural growing conditions found in the country they came from. Today, Bonsai are cultivated all over the world, most notably in Japan where there are literally hundreds of specialized gardens full of Bonsai, most of which are created to represent trees from the Japanese language.
While the art of Bonsai may be ancient, it has endured because of its ability to adapt and improve with time. As the art of Bonsai developed, it was able to overcome the natural tendencies for the Bonsai tree to grow crooked and lean, which in turn led to it being categorized as “genetically dwarfed plants.” Because of this, when determining if a Bonsai tree is truly a true Bonsai, or if it is simply an abnormally dwarf version of other plants, there is testing done to determine the ratio of actual root mass to available surface roots.
When checking to see if a Bonsai tree is truly a true Bonsai, it should have a large number of roots and fewer spores. The reason for the growth rate of Bonsai trees is because the roots are constantly growing, but because the soil is small, it is unable to keep the roots from spreading out. If the roots are allowed to grow unchecked, they will eventually push out all of the available soil, resulting in the Bonsai looking unhealthy and unsightly.
The art of Bonsai planting starts with choosing the most appropriate tree for the setting. There are several different types of Bonsai, including upright, mini and miniature, tropical, potted and wire selections. Each Bonsai style has its own specific unique silhouette that can be accentuated with accessories such as planters and planter boxes. Another way to add interest to an upright Bonsai tree is to add Bonsai accessories, such as planters, wires and rocks.
Miniature Bonsai trees are smaller than their upright counterparts, often no more than seven inches tall. These Bonsai trees are very easy to maintain and can be trained to grow into a specific shape. A common bonsai style for these trees is a trunk with rounded tips, called a miniaturized tree. The roots of a miniature Bonsai can be easily integrated into the overall landscape of the plant, while still allowing the tree to grow into a natural upright position. Miniature trees can also be used to replace smaller trees that have been pruned, cut back or otherwise removed from the landscape.
In contrast, miniature Bonsai trees are typically only a few inches in height. This makes these Bonsai ideal for indoors or windowsill decor, because they require less maintenance than the larger varieties. However, the roots of these dwarf Bonsai trees are still very visible, and their appearance can be altered to enhance the visual qualities of the display. Miniature Bonsai trees are often taken from the nursery or backyard of the owner and then given a more traditional-style trunk and roots to mimic a tree that is at least three feet in height. This allows the Bonsai tree to appear taller and more appealing.
The roots of each Bonsai variety should be observed throughout their lifetime, in order to determine whether the tree has had an impact on the environment and its ecosystem. This allows the owner to establish whether the tree is thriving and needs minimal maintenance or if it needs to be re-landscaped. By mimicking the natural environment of the area in which the Bonsai is kept, the owner can create a Bonsai garden that exhibits the aesthetic qualities of his or her home.