Bonsai Trees For The Serious Artist

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In ancient times, the Chinese began to shape trees in ways they felt improved on nature, and gradually learned to keep a normally full-size tree small enough to fit into a garden pot or even a shallow bowl on a table. The practice spread to Japan, where it was formalized, the plants were called bonsai trees, and the art became a traditional part of national life. At the end of World War II, the dwarfed trees became known in the western world as well, and today millions of enthusiasts around the world enjoy owning and creating these carefully crafted plants.

Any woody plant can be used, since the ides is to mimic a full-grown tree in miniature. Species of pine are used in Japan, as are fruit trees of different kinds, while varieties of western juniper are commonly used in the United States. California redwoods, the largest of trees, are sometimes trained to live in a pot that one man can move.

The whole idea is to create an impression of a healthy but tiny tree, one either flourishing in a friendly environment and showing perfection of shape and density of foliage, or one enduring harsh conditions but struggling along year after year. For this reason, artists choose species with either small leaves, or those that can be made to grow smaller than usual ones, or evergreens with fine and small needles.

Nurseries and online sites offer either finished bonsai plants or guidance to suitable varieties. Plants can be grown from seed, but it is easier to start with a more mature plant, with a sturdy trunk that is still pliable enough to be shaped. For a straight, flourishing tree, it is necessary to have a tapering trunk with regular branches, although perfect symmetry is not an objective. For the twisted effect of the familiar crooked examples often assumed to be the norm, training with wires or even strong clamps is done, to a preconceived design.

The first step is to educate yourself on the conventions of this way of miniaturizing and shaping plants. There are simple explanations that give the basics of the art on line, and many books on the subject. Conventional shapes range from upright growth to violent contortions. Creativity has resulted in many variations on the basic themes, but the tradition to be followed is part of the art.

Many are most familiar with the tiny trees that look like the blasted survivors of strong winds and many storms. The artists twist trunks, prune branches to shorten them or remove them entirely, pare off roots, sometimes remove leaves, and give the trees a shallow, well-drained bowl or container where water is quickly lost and nutrients swiftly exhausted.

Learning the techniques, having the proper tools, and sharing an ancient discipline are all part of the fascination of this hobby. It is more than a hobby, of course; many use it as an aid to contemplation and as a step to serenity. All who practice it realize that it is an art, the conscious act of shaping nature to fit human ideals. It is a living art, as well. In Japan, some trees have been national treasures for hundreds of years.

Bonsai trees, visions achieved by careful and creative use of skill and patience, are absorbing examples of art and dedication.

Gardening Articles: http://organicgardenarticles.com/

Author: Gabriel Meriwether
If you're interested in a bonsai tree, then visit Gabriel Meriwether's site and find out all about the ficus.

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