Bonsai is the miniaturized replica of the classic tree which you can find in parks, forests, mountains or anywhere else in nature.
The main purpose is to reproduce a miniature specimen which gives the impression that the tree is very old and so has those specific characteristics which define a mature tree – one full of character and able to transmit to the viewer a great sense of emotion. This also depends on the kind of tree and its style – and is as subjective as when you look at a painting.
Branch ramifications, thickness of the trunk, taper and root flare are the main features that give to the tree a sense of age.
- Branch ramification: a well-proportioned number of primary branches nicely distributed and well ramified, where each branch shows a great number of secondary, tertiary and so forth number of branches moving downward will transmit a sensation of age.
- Trunk: tree trunks thicken with time – the thicker the trunk, the older it is perceived to be by the viewer.
- Taper: taper is the difference is in size between the base of the trunk (which should be thicker) and the top of the tree (that should be thinner). In many cases taper is also accompanied by trunk movement which adds interesting elements to the tree.
- Root flare or so called “Nebari”: this is an important characteristic for a quality bonsai as give a great sense of stability and a considerable perception of age.
These elements in Bonsai can be created with specific techniques and knowledge in arboricultural principles.
The main methods used on Bonsai to obtain such results are:
- Wire application: technique that has the purpose of positioning the branches in the desired direction
- Pruning: removing unwanted branches or cutting part of it with the intent to give direction and ramification. This practice is also used to promote taper and movement to the trunk
- Sacrificial branch or planting in open space: the first method allows a specific branch to grow freely and promotes the trunk part below to thicken faster. The second technique permits the whole tree to grow for a determinate period in an open space (the ground) rather than in a restricted pot, which should result in the fastest growth of the tree.
- Repotting: this is an essential operation in Bonsai for several reasons but in relation to our topic it promotes great Nebari and is obtained with specific pruning techniques which are performed during the repotting phase.
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