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exotic plants......bonsai

Written By iwan kuncoro hadi on Jumat, 19 Oktober 2012 | 10.49


Bonsai...

The millennia-old art form, still going strongly today! 
In Japanese, bonsai can be literally translated as 'tray planting' but since originating in Asia, so many centuries ago - it has developed into a whole new form. To begin with, the tree and the pot form a single harmonious unit where the shape, texture and colour of one, compliments the other. Then the tree must be shaped. It is not enough just to plant a tree in a pot and allow nature to take its course - the result would look nothing like a tree and would look very short-lived. Every branch and twig of a bonsai is shaped or eliminated until the chosen image is achieved. From then on, the image is maintained and improved by a constant regime of pruning and trimming.
It is the art of dwarfing trees or plants and developing them into an aesthetically appealing shape by growing, pruning and training them in containers according to prescribed techniques.
Overall, bonsai is a great interest, hobby or even profession to undertake. Although famous theologians have claimed that it is actually 90% art to a meager 10% of horticulture, it has to be said that a successful bonsai is most definitely a horticultural masterpiece.
Once arriving in the Western World, this enjoyable and rewarding pastime has never turned back, and has gained a magnificently diverse range of plant material and techniques.




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. I will now attempt to explain the basic principles of each style.
  1.Formal Upright Style


A tree with a style such as formal upright occurs when it has grown in the open under perfect conditions. The most important requirement for this style is that the trunk should be perfectly straight, tapering naturally and evenly from base to apex. The branches should be symmetrically spaced so that they are balanced when viewed from any direction. It is quite a demanding style to achieve.
Recommended Species: Larches, Junipers, Pines and Spruces are all suitable species. Maples can also be used, but are not as easy to train into such a conformist style. Above all, fruiting or naturally informal trees are not suitable for formal upright.
Processes/Techniques Used: To achieve an effective formal upright, make sure that about one third of the trunk is visible from the front, either from the base to the first branch or cumulatively, as seen through the tracery of its branches. Generally, the placement of branches follows a pattern. The first branch up from the bottom is the longest and in proportion usually is trained to grow to an equivalent to a third of the total height of the tree. This is the 'heaviest' branch almost making a right angle to the trunk. The second branch directly opposes the first branch and is higher on the trunk. As the branch structure ascends, they taper assuming a somewhat cone-like form. The top of the bonsai is usually very thick with foliage - so full and tightly ramified that it is difficult to see its internal structure through the mass of leaves or needles. The tip of this style of bonsai also has a slight curve, to lean forward and effectively 'look at the viewer'. Depending on what species of tree you are using, the whole tree does not have to be symmetrical but rather the branches could ascend by alternating on each side. (I personally prefer this, as the former seems too regimented.)
As mentioned earlier, the branches and trunk of a formal upright bonsai always take on a very distinctive taper. This is achieved by cruelly cutting off the growing tip of the trunk or branch with each new year and wiring a new branch into position to form the apex. This is something quite hard to do, however it produces a stunning result when the trunk starts to mature and the taper starts becoming prominent.

  2.Informal Upright Style


In nature, such trees bend or alter their direction away from wind or shade other trees or buildings, or towards light. In an informal upright bonsai the trunk should slightly bend to the right or left - but never towards the viewer. (This applies to all types of bonsai. Neither the trunk or branches should be pointing towards the viewer when the bonsai is viewed from the front.)
Recommended Species: Most species of plants are suitable for this style, mainly the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum), Beech, practically all Conifers and other ornamental trees such as the Crab Apple, Cotoneaster and Pomegranate.
Processes/Techniques Used: An informal upright bonsai basically uses the same principles of the formal upright bonsai only that it is informal. Juniperus Horozontalis in a variation of Informal UprightThe style still requires a tapered trunk, however the trunk direction and branch positioning is more informal and closer to the way a tree would look when exposed to the elements at an early age. The trunk usually takes on an unexpected curve or series of twists and the branches are thus positioned to balance this effect. As with formal upright, the crown of the tree is mainly very full with foliage and despite the informal trunk, is most always located directly above the base of the tree. (This is an attribute of the informal upright style, if not done like this, the tree would be slanting.)
Jin (carved remains of dead or unwanted branches to look like dead and rotting limbs of a tree) is also more appropriate and effective with the informal upright style.


  3.Slanting Style


Trees that slant naturally occur a result of buffeting winds or deep shade during early development. Whether curved or straight, the whole trunk leans at a definite angle. The stronger roots grow out on the side, away from the angle of the trunk lean, to support the weight.
Recommended Species: Most species are suitable for this style, as the style does bear similarity to informal upright. Conifers work particularly well.
Processes/Techniques Used: As mentioned before, this style does bear similarity to informal upright. The trunk can be either curved or straight, but must be on an angle to either the right or left (never to the front), with the apex not directly over the base of the bonsai. This style is quite a simple one that can be achieved by many methods. At an early age, the bonsai can be trained to an angle by means of wiring the trunk until it is in position. Alternatively, the tree can be forced to grow in a slanted style by putting the actual pot on a slant, causing the tree to grow abnormally.
With formal upright, informal upright and slanted styles, the number three is significant. The lowest branches are grouped in threes, and this grouping begins one-third of the way up the trunk. The bottom-most three branches almost encircle the trunk, with two branches thrusting forward, one slightly higher than the other. The third branch, emanating from a point between the first two, is set at such an angle as to make the foliage appear lower than the other two. This pattern presents an easy way to tell front from back and sets the tone of the entire composition.

  4.Cascade Style

The growing tip of a cascade bonsai reaches below the base of a container. The trunk has a natural taper and gives the impression of the forces of nature pulling against the forces of gravity. Branches appear to be seeking the light. The winding main trunk is reminiscent of a stream meandering down the side of a mountain.
Recommended Species: Many species are suitable, if they are not strongly upright.
Processes/Techniques Used: If done right, this style of bonsai can be quite aesthetically pleasing. The trunk which is tapered, grows down below the container and gives the impression of the tree being forced down by the forces of gravity. The tree trunk usually also twists as if to emulate a meandering stream with elegant alternating branches protruding from it.
All that is required to create this style is a tall, narrow pot which will enhance the style and accommodate the cascade and a species of plant that will willingly adopt this style if trained. The main trunk should be wired to spill over and down the edge of the pot, with the main focus on the major bend (forming an upside-down U shape). Emphasis should also be kept on keeping the branches uniform and horizontal to the almost directly vertical trunk. Another major aspect to remember is that both cascade and semi-cascade should be positioned right into the center of the pot, the opposite to what you would do for any other style.


  5.Semi Cascade Style


The tip of a semi-cascade, like the cascade, projects over the rim of the container, but does not drop below its base. The style occurs in nature when trees grow on clifs or overhang water. The angle of the trunk in this bonsai is not precise, as long as the effect is strongly horizontal, even if the plant grows well below the level of the pot rim. Any exposed roots should balance the trunk.
Recommended Species: Many species are suitable, except strongly upright ones. Flowering cherries, cedars and junipers work well.
Processes/Techniques Used: As the name suggests, a semi-cascade is basically the same as a cascade - involving the same principles, however the tree (growing tip) does not drop below the base of the bonsai pot. Many semi-cascade do not even drop below the edge of the top of the pot. This style is perfect for Junipers.
















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