Bonsai

The main definition of bonsai as an outlet for both art and horticulture is quite wide. There are many myths which are associated with bonsai. These not only provide confusion for budding enthusiasts,

but gives the pastime a bad name for anyone not majorly experienced in the area. A bonsai is not a genetically dwarfed plant and is not kept small by cruelty in any way. In fact, given an adequate supply of water, air, light and nutrients, a properly maintained bonsai should outlive a full size tree of the same species. The techniques of Bonsai are no more cruel than that of any other horticultural endeavor. It is also common belief that bonsai are only a few centimeters tall. This is untrue, although bonsai are small in comparison to their huge life-sized brothers, most are over 25 centimeters tall and up to 1 meter in height.

The two basic styles of bonsai are the classic (koten) and the informal or 'comic' (bunjin). In the former, the trunk of the tree is wider at the base and tapers off towards the top; it is just the opposite in the 'bunjin', a style more difficult to master.

Over the years, bonsai enthusiasts have frequently tried to reclassify the styles, and their many sub-divisions into which plants can be trained. Once you understand the principles behind these designs/styles, you will have a reference point from which to assess a tree's potential for bonsai and to decide what style suits it.

If you study very carefully the way trees grow in nature, it is possible to design a realistic bonsai without knowing the names of these styles. You do not need to stick strictly to the precise rules of your chosen style: adapt them to suit a plant's natural habitat. When you start a bonsai, always remember that you are working with a living plant. Look carefully at its natural characteristics and you may discern within them a suitable style, or styles. All conifers are reasonably unsuitable to the 'broom' style, for example, but are very suitable for all other styles, especially formal and informal upright - to which they are particularly suited. Often you can train a plant into several styles, even if it is basically upright like a beech or elegantly slender like a maple. Even if one style only really suits a particular plant, you still can interpret this in many different ways.

Shrubs like azaleas that are not tree-like in nature have fewer restrictions in the style you choose, but, generally, it is best to base any design on the way a tree grows in nature. People that are still learning the basic principles of bonsai should not try to train a bonsai into a style totally unlike a tree's natural growth pattern, although this is quite possible as you gain more experience. The Five Main Bonsai Styles:
The five basic bonsai styles are formal upright, informal upright, slanting (or windswept), semi-cascade and cascade. All have their own individual beauty and serenity.