Bonsai is a peace of Japanese art – an art of aesthetic miniaturization of trees. The trees, shrubs or bushy plants, especially which live for several years are ideal for making bonsai. As such, utmost care should be given while choosing the tree. Some species are popular as bonsai material because of there special characteristics, e.g. small leaves or needles and can have aged appearance within a reasonable time, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope and aesthetic beauty of bonsai.
Styles of Bonsai
There are five basic styles namely Formal Upright, Informal Upright, Slanting Style, Cascade and Semi-Cascade which are briefed below-
Formal Upright – in this style, the trunks are perfectly straight and tapering evenly from base to apex and the brunches are symmetrically spaced in such a way that the bonsai looks similar when viewed from any direction. Natural informal trees and fruiting trees are not suitable for this style. Pines, Junipers are suitable for this style. In this case, the cutting should be done in such a way that one third of the trunk should be clearly visible at the bottom i.e. without branches. The first branch from the bottom should be heaviest and longest and about one third of the length of the tree. The second branch should be in diametrically opposite direction and above the first branch. The other branches should progress in such a way to form a perfect cone structure.
Informal Upright – in informal upright style the trunk should take an unexpected curve or series of twists and the branches are positioned to balance the effect in such a way that the apex should be located directly above the trunks entry to the soil. The size and the shape of the branches same as formal upright style. Japanese Maple, Beech is suitable for this type of bonsai.
Slanting Style – this style is somewhat similar to informal upright style i.e. the whole trunk emerges from soil at an definite angle, either in left or right, and the stronger roots grow out just in opposite direction of lean of the trunk to balance the weight. The slanting can be achieved either by wiring the trunk in the desired direction or by keeping the pot itself in slanting position, at an early stage.
Cascade – in cascade bonsai, the growing edge of the tree reaches below the base of the bonsai pot and the branches appears to be seeking of light giving an effect of trees that grow on the side of mountains. Species that are not upright in nature are suitable for this style. A tall, narrow pot will enhance the viewing of this style. This style can be achieved by wiring the trunk to spill over and down the edge of the pot.
Semi Cascade – the main difference between cascade and semi cascade style is, in case of semi cascade bonsai the tip of the tree projects below the rim of the bonsai pot but does not reach the base of the bonsai pot. Any exposed root of the tree should balance the lean of the trunk. This style is perfect for Junipers.
Besides the above styles, there are several other styles, some of which are explained below:
Root Over Rock Style – a style, where a rock is placed at the base of the trunk and the roots are exposed to varying degrees and grasping the rock and then disappeared into the soil. This style is basically the pictorial representation of a tree, started growing over a rock crevice, the roots of which gradually spilled over the rock to find out more nutrition beneath the rock.
To achieve this style, both the rock and the tree should be chosen very carefully. The rock should be natural, un-even shaped, appealing and be of accurate size and the plant should have a long and tough root system.
Growing in a Rock– This style is the mimic for ‘Struggle to Survive’. In this style the roots of the tree grow in the cracks and holes of the rock, which means that there is not sufficient space for the roots to develop and absorb nutrients. As such the frequency of fertilizing and watering the plant in this style, is high and is most important factor too. The base rock, in which the Bonsai grows, is normally placed in a very shallow pot. To visualize the effect of ‘Struggle to Survive’, the tree growing in rocks should never look really healthy.
Broom – Normally bushy type of trees having extensive & fine branching are employed in this style of bonsai. The trunk is straight and upright and the Branches are allowed to spread from the trunk in all direction, above one-third length of the tree from bottom. This shape looks very beautiful too during the season when there are no leaves on the tree.
Multi-Trunk – A multi-trunked bonsai should have three or more odd-numbered trunks growing out of the same root system and is actually one single tree. All the trunks should, diverge as close to the roots as possible vary in height and form a crown of leaves, in which the thickest trunk forms the top. Ideally the angle between the two trunks should not be to great, as this tends to look unnatural.
Group or Forest – It is a style where a pictorial presentation of natural forest is made by making a miniature forest with the help of planting a number of trees, usually in odd numbers and of same species, in a bonsai tray. A variety of heights among the trees are employed to reflect the age differences among the plats, encountered in natural forest. A forest style bonsai usually has trees which grow straight and tall with lesser or no curvature to reflect the forest like appearance of the plants. The bonsai tray also looks like any random part of the forest.
In this style, the arrangement of the trees is most important. The whole group is divided into smaller groups with uneven spaces among them. The trees are so arranged that no three or more trees fall in a straight line and the trees block one another when viewed from front side, which creates randomness and normalcy of a forest like appearance.
Literati Style – Traditionally Literati bonsai have bare trunk line that twist and turn in multiple and have an obvious lack in most cases. Branches are reduced to minimum and placed in higher position. The look is somewhat close to an informal upright style except lower branches. The foliage of a Literati often is purposely sparse, just enough to sustain the tree and keep it healthy.
Raft Style – a bonsai style in which multiple trunks grow in a line from a connected base. A raft style may occur in nature when a tree because of wind, flood, landslide, avalanche, earthquake or other reason is knocked down and the trunk is flattened against the earth and possibly all or a portion of the trunk is covered with soil.Raft style is further divided into three sub-styles namely straight raft, sinuous raft and clump raft.
A Straight Raft is one where a tree’s relatively straight trunk is laid on its side in the soil and the branches grow upright directly out of the original trunk causing each branch to appear to be individual trees.
Sinuous Raft is one where a tree’s original trunk is curved or twisted and laid on its side in the soil and the branches are upright to appear to be individual trees.
In Clump Raft a plant grows as a clump with three or more trunks, growing from a single root system. The branches grow vertically from a central location or the trunks may be in horizontal position in the soil and then upright to appear to be individual trees.