Bonsai Art

The Art of Bonsai

Bonsai is a Japanese word which is now used worldwide to describe a small tree or shrub in a container resembling a full-sized tree. The idea of bonsai is the recreate an idealisation of nature and not to recreate precisely every twig and branch. Bonsai aims to only give a general impression of how trees grow in their natural state.

Bonsai allows you to combine both art and horticulture it require care as it is growing, but also an artistic eye to be able to nurture your tree in the form that you find most aesthetically pleasing.

Bonsai can be done by everyone and is not something that people should shy away from due to them thinking it requires many years of dedication and practice to achieve worthwhile results. Of course, a certain degree of enthusiasm and dedication are needed, but with increased expertise you will find that you will begin to achieve better designs. It is stated that bonsai is 90% art and only 10% horticulture, which may be pleasing to hear by those who think they lack a green thumb. As the tree grows, obviously it will require watering, feeding and repotting, but the art of shaping the tree is probably the most important and over which the grower has the most control.

The art of bonsai actually originated in China and the idea of growing trees in containers was taken there much earlier from India. In the 18th Century, the Japanese adopted the art of bonsai which was greatly influenced by Chinese culture.

The artistic rules of bonsai have been developed over many centuries in Japan. Pines and bamboos are standard bonsai materials, and some flowering trees were also used. It was only in the 17th Century that the Japanese maple was used as bonsai material.

It is only in the 20th Century that bonsai has become popular in the Western World. When buying a bonsai tree you will find that most of the bonsai trees and accessories in the West are Japanese imports, but due to variations in climate and growing conditions, they are more varied and less rigorous than those in traditional Japanese art.


by Dr Judith Juhasz for 

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