ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Design Elements in Bonsai Trees

Updated on April 28, 2011

Slanting Bonsai Tree with a Weathered Look

Photos of Bonsai Trees at San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden,  via It's a Jungle Out There
Photos of Bonsai Trees at San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden, via It's a Jungle Out There | Source

Design Elements in Bonsai Trees

The ancient art of bonsai cultivation has been honed over centuries by creative gardeners in Japan and China. The bonsai gardener applies knowledge of plants and human design elements in harmony with nature to grow a living tree in miniature form, to create the impression of space and serenity in a tiny landscape. In this way, bonsai allows even a small urban home to contain an impression of harmony with nature and an illusion of space. Some artists have even gone further and produced award winning sculptures based on bonsai.


Some Interesting and Imaginative Bonsai Landscapes

Formal Styles in Bonsai Design

Throughout the history of bonsai, stylistic preferences have varied from grotesquely unrealistic to naturalistic. Over time, certain traditional styles and formal classifications have emerged, based on standard characteristics such as the overall height of the tree and the line and angle of the trunk.

For example, the Formal Upright (chokkan) style requires the tree to have a perfectly straight, upright trunk, whereas the Informal Upright (moyogi) style allows a curve or gentle slant in the trunk. In comparison, a more pronounced slant is required for the slanting (shakan) style, with the apex of the trunk no longer being over the base. A cascade (kengai) style tree, curves downwards, out and below the upper rim of the pot, while a semi-cascade (han-kengai) style curves up and then down, but to a lesser extent, without going lower than the pot it is planted in. The hub page on bonsai styles gives more detailed examples of formal bonsai styles, with photos.

Bonsai trees are also categorized by size, ranging from miniature trees at less than six inches tall, through small and medium size ranges to large trees (for bonsai!) at over 24 inches tall. Size categories are often listed as a key feature of bonsai trees for sale.


A walk in a bonsai garden, featuring many beautiful and well cared for bonsai trees

Design in Bonsai Care and Planting

Traditionally, bonsai trees are planted in odd numbers, and grown with an overall shape that suggests asymmetrical balance, such as a scalene triangle. To create an impression of perspective, the trunk should ideally taper in width as it gets taller, and grow to a height of approximately six times the width at its base.

Bonsai kits usually include a suitable pot, whose color should harmonize with the bark and leaf colors of your bonsai tree species. Obviously, all trees are different, and so some will have brighter colored leaves, or more tonal contrast between the leaves and the bark. For an extra dash of bright color, you might prefer flowering bonsai trees, some of which can be in flower many times a year if you're lucky.

The texture of the bark should also be considered as a design element, as some species have textured bark that is better for creating the impression of age and maturity that is prized in bonsai specimens.

If you're not purchasing a mature bonsai tree or growing one from a kit, you can read 'Starting a Bonsai', which discusses growing one from cuttings.

The art of the bonsai gardener is to create a design that unifies all these visual elements for a harmonious natural appearance and a serene effect.Some beautiful examples can be seen in San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden (see below), or click to find your nearest bonsai society.

Bonsai Miniature Forest

Photos of Bonsai Trees at San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden, via It's a Jungle Out There
Photos of Bonsai Trees at San Diego's Japanese Friendship Garden, via It's a Jungle Out There

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)