Bonsai-The art of
300-year-old maple leaf bonsai tree.
sculpted trunk and branches of the Japanese bonsai plants
immediately capture one's eye; this is no typical potted plant.
Similar to other types of art, the origin of bonsai was thought to
have taken root in China and then transferred to Japan during the
middle of the Heian period (794-1185). When the plant reached the
Japanese island, however, regional gardening techniques influenced
the development of bonsai in Japan, distinguishing it from the
term derived for this artistic practice became known as "bonsai"
meaning "cultivation in a pot". The goal of bonsai is to
create a plant, small in size, that would suggest a larger natural
scene. The majority of cultivation techniques for bonsai were
developed in the Endo period (1603-1868). These techniques are used
by bonsai artists to shape the tree's branches and trunk. A variety
of different trees are used for bonsai, including Japanese black
pines, Japanese cedars, Japanese maples, and Japanese white pines. A
bonsai also depends upon repotting for its survival. Some trees are
repotted every two to three years, to ensure that old, dead roots
are removed and the roots will be able to absorb air, water, and
fertilizer more easily. If properly cared for, bonsai trees can live
many years. Examples exist today of bonsai almost five hundred years
is viewed according to a predetermined criteria of beauty. One
important quality is root spread, or the amount the roots of a
bonsai appear above the earth. Bonsai trees usually do not attain a
good root spread until they are much older. Another factor is the
"rise" of the trunk. The "rise" is the way the
tree rises off its base and also the shape of the base. The last
important element is the arrangement of the bonsai's branches.
great number of trunk and planting styles appear within the art of
bonsai. The most basic of these forms is the straight trunk style.
Other varieties include the curved-trunk, triple-trunk, Literati
style (a simple unsophisticated style), "windswept" style,
"raised roots" style, and cascade style (where bonsai
grows outside and below the rim of the pot). The variety and
complexity of bonsai underscores its position as a truely unique art