Bonsai is the art of creating miniature trees that mimic their full-grown counterparts in nature. To be considered a bonsai, a tree must be pruned and wired to create shapes that occur in natural, full-grown trees.
Bonsai originated in China between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago. The art was transmitted to Japan with Chinese Chan Buddhism in the 12th century and has become closely associated with Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Almost any tree that grows locally is a potential candidate for pot growing and training, or bonsai. Common trees include junipers, pines, maples, oaks, azaleas, tea plants or any tree or bush that develops woody stems.
Bonsais are grown according to loose styles; however, many award-winning bonsai deviate from traditional styles. Common classic styles include formal upright, informal upright, cascade, semi-cascade, windswept, literati, root on rock, driftwood and multiple-trunk.
Bonsai as part of a miniature landscape is usually associated with the Chinese style. In this style, rocks become miniature mountains and small clay figurines or buildings create a sense of idyllic landscape in miniature.
Japanese-style bonsai evolved over the 20th century to include many aspects of Zen Buddhist design. In Zen design, all aspects of the tree that are not necessary are removed, focusing on the natural shape and lines in the tree.
- Bonsai Tree Support
- Why Bonsai
bonsai styling, bonsai history, miniature trees
About this Author
Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.