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Bonsai Styles

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					This online guide is aimed at beginners or those who are thinking of starting out in the Art, Craft,
                                  Hobby or Obsession of Bonsai.




I hope you find the information useful if you are interested in bonsai and in time are able to
             pass on the knowledge you acquire to someone new to the hobby.

                       The Bonsai Primer was founded in August 1995




                                                 1
Introduction
Keeping and growing Bonsai is not as hard as you may believe. They are no more difficult to look
after than most houseplants, needing food, water and light to survive. However most bonsai are NOT
houseplants. If you live in a part of the world subject to frosts, bringing them indoors over winter in
the mistaken belief that they need to be warm to survive is a sure way to kill them.
That is not to say that all species will survive a hard winter outdoors, generally any species native to
Earth's temperate regions will be OK outdoors, in all but the worst winter conditions. Deciduous
trees are somewhat hardier than conifers when the pots are frozen. As conifers retain their foliage
throughout the year, if they freeze in the pot, wind passing over their foliage takes moisture from it
and 'freeze dries' the tree.
You must however be guided by either advice on any label, or when purchasing the tree the seller.
When buying either a ready made Bonsai, or a tree for conversion, only buy from reputable dealers
who can advise you how delicate the species is in your area. You should also bear in mind that a non
specialist supplier will probably advise you to "Water it every couple of days", rather than water it
when it needs it.
Keeping the tree healthy is of course just a part of the craft of bonsai, the aesthetic side of the craft
needs to be born in mind. A bonsai is often described as "living art", an appropriate expression I feel,
for if not for the beauty of the trees why do we take up the hobby.
The aim of the Primer is expressed in the word 'Primer', it means an undercoat, a base on which to
put a finish. The Primer will not turn you into an expert (i'm not), I still learn from friends and
teachers.
What I hope the Primer will do, is to help you understand some of the things you will need to know
to help you, not just keep your trees alive, but turn them into the work of living art we all want them
to be.

Bonsai
Is an ancient art form that originated in China, known as Pen-Jing, where it is still popular today,
however the Japanese were the major influence on Bonsai in western culture. Chinese Trees being
less styalised than their Japanese counterparts.
The term bonsai literally means 'a plant in a tray', the generally accepted meaning, however is a tree
in a pot.
The aim of bonsai is to capture the beauty and strength of an ancient tree, without showing that the
tree is manufactured by the 'Hand of man'.
The art of bonsai involves the bringing together of tree and pot in visual harmony. Bonsai may have
one or more trees, these being referred to as group plantings. Trees in a group planting should be of
the same species, mixed species plantings with rocks and ornamental figures are called 'Saikei'
Bonsai are classified by styles, relating to the trunk angle, shape or the number of trunks, formal
upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade and group planting. They vary greatly in size from shito
bonsai trees grown in containers the size of a thimble, to trees needing several men to move.
A bonsai should have a well tapered trunk and have branches all around the tree to give the bonsai
visual depth. The lower part of the trunk should be visible to show its 'power',
It is assumed that age is a prerequisite for bonsai, this is not the case. There are several techniques
available to the bonsai grower to increase the apparent age. Branches on young trees are wired
down for as long as needed, to encourage them to set into the desired position, increasing the
impression of age. Jin and Sharimiki are two techniques involving the removal of some of the bark
and subsequent carving of the exposed wood to add to the effect of an ancient tree that has suffered
a trauma many years ago.
Bonsai do not differ genetically from trees found in nature and stay small because they are confined
in a container, however they are well fed and watered. Their tops being pruned as needed to ensure
they do not appear out of balance with the pot and that the foliage pads indicative of a mature tree
are maintained. Both Coniferous and Deciduous trees are used in bonsai, with Pine, Maple and


                                                    2
Juniper forming the 'Classic' bonsai, however with the spread of the art throughout the world many
indigenous species have been used to good effect.
How often the tree it is repotted and the roots are pruned depends on it's age, younger trees may be
repotted every other year, older trees perhaps every three or four years . This causes fine new roots
to develop near the trunk, increasing the trees vigour. This operation is usually carried out in the
spring, prior to the new buds opening.

The elements of a bonsai
A bonsai may be developed from any woody
plant (tree or shrub), however you should bear in
mind that:
    1. A Bonsai is the tree, and the pot.
    2. The trunk is what gives the tree its
         "stature", poor trunks make poor bonsai.
         Ideally the trunk should have a good
         taper, with a good root formation visible
         at soil level.
    3. Bonsai have larger branches at the
         bottom of the tree, the branches
         decrease in size as they get nearer the
         top of the tree. The distance between
         the branches decreases the nearer the
         top of the tree they are.
    4. There should be "negative" (open) areas between the branches, this gives the impression of a
         tree rather than a shrub.
    5. A bonsai may have areas of dead wood to give an impression of age.

Like most people who have larger collections of trees, or indeed collections of larger trees, I keep
mine on wooden staging on brick built piers. During hard frosts/snow they are put under the staging
and polythene sheeting is draped over the staging. If you only have a few trees consider putting them
into an unheated greenhouse, or conservatory, a shed (by the window), or enclose them in a clear
plastic bag (only during the worst conditions). Do not bring them into a heated and lit environment,
as this will start them growing at the wrong time of year.
Living in a flat, with only a balcony or
windowsill to keep plants on need not
exclude you from keeping bonsai, but
you will need to be a little 'creative'
with your use of space, or if you intend
to keep them indoors be aware of their
lighting needs.
Bonsai need not be an expensive
hobby, if you create your own trees, as
all but a few of my collection were
created, you will find that you will only
be buying pots and sundries such as
wire, feed and compost.




                                                  3
Age
Age they say is an illusion and the techniques described in the 'Primer' will help you to add to that
illusion, techniques such as Wiring, and Jin & Sharimiki.
Although there are bonsai around with history's going back several hundred years, age in its self is
not essential in a bonsai.
So let us look at what gives the impression of age in a tree.
Old trees have massive trunks with taper, and a good root structure at soil level. They also have a
well defined branch structure.
A young seedling on a forest floor needs to get as much sunlight as possible to ensure that in time it
becomes the biggest tree around, and that its genes are the ones that are passed on. To achieve this
it has to position its leaves in such a way that they catch as much of the available sunlight as they
can. Consequently its branches grow up towards the light.




As the tree matures, and its crown reaches the forest canopy, it is in its interest to restrict the light
reaching the forest floor, its branches fill out, and as they get heavier they tend to droop. In the art of
bonsai we can give the impression that a tree is much older than it is by wiring its branches
downward.
There is no reason to suppose that a bonsai will not last the normal lifespan for that species (the
Bristlecone pine of Arizona exceeds 5,000 years).




                                                    4
An indicator of a mature tree is that it has a well developed crown, as demonstrated by the tree on
the right. Young trees put on as much growth as they can at the top of the tree, in an attempt to gain
height, and crowd out their rivals. This invariably gives them a conical shape,
Old trees, having reached the desired height, produce as much foliage as possible, providing a large
surface for photosynthesis to take place.


What are Bonsai ?
It's easier to start by laying to rest a few misconceptions about what bonsai are, or are not.
Bonsai are not genetically different, that is to say they are NOT dwarf versions of a species. Take a
Scots Pine bonsai out of a pot, put it in the ground and hang around for a hundred years and see
what happens!.
That's not to say that you will not find use made of cultivars of a species that happen to produce
smaller leaves or needles than the original species. Maples and Pines are good examples of this,
however the vigour and growth patterns of the species generally remain the same.
Bonsai is the tree and pot brought together in visual harmony. Artistic shaped trees in the ground "In
the Bonsai style" are topiary not Bonsai.
Bonsai come in all sizes from 'Shito and Mame', trees grown in pots the size of thimbles, through
'Shohin', to 'Man' trees, two man trees, three man trees etc (It's the number of men it takes to move
one). By far the greater number of trees kept are in the 1ft - 2ft range.

A bonsai should give the
impression of being a tree
not a shrub, the difference
being that trees have
defined foliage pads with
open area's between
them, a shrub is a blob of
foliage, pruning will allow
you to define and improve
the branch structure.



Bonsai are not fixed in time. As they grow and you become familiar with the techniques involved in
maintaining and creating them, you may decide to alter the shape of a tree. You may remove a
branch, or allow one to develop in a desirable location. Perhaps you will see a better front for your
tree, allowing more of the trunk to be seen. Repotting will allow you to put this into practice, as
wiring will allow you to alter the position of the branches.
One of the greatest misconceptions about bonsai, concerns root pruning. It is generally assumed that
this is one of the essential techniques used to keep the tree small, this is not the case, in fact root
pruning is used to increase the trees vigour.
There is nothing as annoying as having a tree die on you. Anyone with a reasonable sized collection
has lost trees, but as your abilities increase you will find this a rare event.
Don't consider starting a collection if you think you may not have the time to maintain your trees,
you may find yourself devoting more time to them than you would spend on the average dog (or
kid), Bonsai are far less messy than both, don't bite, and don't drop things on the carpet!, it is a
civilised and civilising pastime.
Bonsai can be obtained in a number of ways, a bonsai from a dealer may seem an expensive option,
however you will be buying much more than just a tree, you will find someone to talk to if you have a
problem. Most dealers run classes for beginners and indeed some organise workshops run by


                                                  5
internationally known figures in the world of bonsai. These courses are of great benefit if you want to
take your knowledge that little bit further. Bonsai dealers will also be able to put you in touch with
any local group. You should also bear in mind that the price tag on the tree reflects the time that
someone has put into creating it and indeed if the tree is imported will reflect the shipping charge
and any costs incurred while the tree is in quarantine.
However the most rewarding way to start a bonsai collection is to create your own Bonsai.


Bonsai Sizes
Mame (pronounced "Ma-May") and Shito are the smallest of bonsai, ideally being no more than
10cm in height, however Shito Bonsai can be so small that they are grown in pots the size of
thimbles. Both terms refer to the size of the tree, so they may be seen in all styles. Creating a
reasonable branch structure and trunk, with the larger Mame is no more difficult than with larger
bonsai, however it is not practical with a Shito tree, so you may see a single leaf playing the part of
an entire branch.
Adequate watering is one of the most difficult things to achieve with the really small trees, and most
                                of the people I know who keep them, bury the pots in damp sand
                                when not on display.




                                               A Shito Bonsai, reproduced at actual size




Shohin Bonsai
Shohin are the next step up in size classification to Mame and Shito bonsai. Yet again Shohin are seen
in all styles Unlike their smaller cousins, creating a reasonable branch structure and trunk poses no
problems.




                                      A display of Mame bonsai.




                                                   6
Branches
Although it is the trunk that gives the Bonsai it's visual strength, it's the branches that give it the
grace and beauty of a tree. They should conform to certain standards to help give the feeling of a
well balanced tree. They should not for example be evenly spaced down the trunk, this would appear
unnatural. Nor should they all leave the trunk at right angles to the viewer making the tree appear to
have no 'depth'.
This is a large section of the 'primer' and as such I've split it into what I hope are logical sections,
covering what I see as the most important aspects for the beginner to come to terms with.

Branches - Developing
When developing new branches,
particularly on deciduous trees, winter is
the best time to make decisions, plan out
what you would like the branch to do, then
as the buds develop you can select one
pointing in the direction you wish the
growth to go and prune accordingly.
Later as the branch structure appears, on
each extention cut beyond the second
bud. This will eventually lead to a fine
tracery of thin branches (this is called
'Ramification').




This is what is meant by ramification, a mass of fine branches that add to the overall imression of a
large tree in minature. The tree is shown in winter, after leaf drop.

The advantage of lots of fine branches are that they can only support small leaves (desirable in a
bonsai) and the tree will still look good when it has no leaves on.
Conifers differ in that you will have to work within the existing branch structure, allowing some areas
to grow on while pruning others back hard to develop a fine tracery of branches, and of course with
conifers not shedding their leaves the viewing of a fine branch structure is irrelevant.
Pines because of their growth pattern can be developed by pruning.




                                                   7
When selecting garden center stock for
converting to a bonsai try to avoid material
where all the branch structure is on a straight
stem, this 'lollypop' will look unnatural,
however you can overcome this by wiring some
curvature into it.




You may have a situation where you have a smaller branch below a larger branch, or wish to give
extra 'weight' to a lower branch, allowing the leading shoot to extend, will cause the branch to
thicken. Later when the extention has served it's purpose you should cut it off.




Conifers
Developing branches on conifers is generally the same, however pines are slightly different.

Pruning Pines




Pines make wonderful bonsai, however they are not the ideal 'first tree'.There are skills you will need
to aquire to cope with their growing patterns.
Unlike deciduous trees and indeed most other conifers, pines will rarely produce buds back on old
wood, that is to say wood which has shed its needles. Unless you learn to deal with this you will end
up with pads of foliage at the end of long denuded branches.




                                                   8
Deciduous trees tend to split in two at a leaf node, Pines are capable of producing a bud wherever
there is a needle, but generally will only bud at the tip of this years growth. As you can see from the
illustration the central bud is usually the strongest, this bud or candle as they are called should be
removed as soon as possible. together with any 'spare' buds, leaving only two.



Now your course of action depends on wether you are
developing or maintaining the bonsai. If developing,
the remaining buds are allowed to grow on. In late
summer, late July early August in the UK, these
candles are cut back to a desirable length and soon
side buds will appear.




If you are maintaining a mature tree you should
not allow to much extension of the candles. This is
achieved by breaking off most of the emerging
candle, do not cut it as this will damage the tips of
the new needles and spoil the look of the tree. Again this will
cause side buds and some back budding, but without to much thickening of the branch.




This tree had its growth cut back last summer, and is now a mass of small buds




                                                   9
Branches - Placement
Although rules are as they say there to be broken, understand them before you break them. In
bonsai the rule of thirds state's that the first (lowest and biggest) branch should be at about one third
of the total height of the tree.It is the trunk that gives the tree its visual strength, and every effort
should be made to have at least the bottom two thirds of the height, clear of branches at the front of
the tree (see diagram). The branches should be laid out like the spokes of a wheel with some going to
the back. This will give the tree 'depth' when you look at it.




Ideally branches should leave the trunk on the outside
of a curve, although this may not always be possable.




No two branches should leave the trunk at the same level. This 'handlebar' effect
is unnatural looking, if when developing a bonsai your tree has such a fault you
should, if a deciduous tree remove one of the branches entirely, or if a conifer
consider turning one of them into a Jin or Sharimiki.

Handlebar' branches look unnatural an if left will cause the
trunk to swell at their level causing an ugly bulge in the trunk
line.




                                                   10
Try to avoid having branches spaced
evenly down the trunk.

This looks unnatural, reduce the distance
between the branches as you go toward
the top of the tree.




Removing Branches
The removal of a branch is usually something you would do when creating a tree, however as your
skills and awareness of shape, and form of your trees develops, you may decide to make an
alteration by removing a branch or part of one. This is not as simple as just hacking off the desired
wood, as the last thing you need is to spoil the tree by leaving a scar.
Trees will attempt to heal over a cut, the bark growing over the wound until it meets, forming a
barrier to keep out what is usually a fungal attack. You should aim to make the cut in such a way as
to help the tree heal quickly, while disguising the cut.
In the section on tools you will see the the first specialist tool you should get are 'Wen' or Parrot beak
cutters, these make a concave cut into the tree. This both heals rapidly and allows the growing bark
to roll into the wound hiding the cut.


 Making a flush cut with a saw will cause a
   mound that will spoil the trunk line.




If you do not own a pair of wen cutters, use a saw but hollow out the cut with a knife or chisel, being
careful to cut away from you.
Having made the cut you should cover the wound. There are 'Cut wound' pastes available from
Bonsai suppliers and they are well worth the effort of obtaining as they contain substances that
promote bark growth, however the bottom line is that anything that will keep out fungus spoors will
do the job. This usually means a paint of some sort.




When tidying up the trunk, after removing a major branch, try
to get the main axis of the cut running up the trunk. This allows
the rising sap to heal the wound quicker than a horizontal cut,
which creates a 'dead' area above the cut, killing the bark there and


                                                   11
increasing the time it takes for the bark to roll over the wound.

Branches - Refining
Having got your tree to a resonable state, a good trunk taper and a fine spread of branches, you may
think the job is done, not so I'm sorry to say. A Bonsai is never 'static', so you will need to keep on
pruning the branches to maintain its shape. Branches will in fact need to be redeveloped every few
years, this is no more than a really hard pruning. it will however make the tree 'unshowable' for a
while.
Remember that to have a branch that looks good without leaves you will need to develop a fine
structure, this can be achived by pruning, wiring and leaf trimming (if appropriate),however there are
one or two things to bear in mind which will improve the looks of your tree.




       Mature trees do not have foliage growing in the crotch of the branch and trunk.




           Remove any foliage that hangs down, as this hides the branch structure.



Try to keep open or 'negative' areas between the foiliage
pads, failing to do so will make the tree look more like a
shrub.




                                                   12
Composts
A lot of nonsense has been written about composts. There are books around that state a compost for
bonsai should be made from clays and sands from specific areas in Japan. This is misleading, what
any compost should be is, free draining, while being capable of holding enough water for the tree,
indeed some suppliers stock 'Bonsai soil' which is no better than any other potting compost.
Composts do not need to contain any fertilizer, as you should be feeding the trees on a regular basis.
Before going any futher you need to be aware of the soil preferences of the tree you are going to use
the compost on. Apart from the nutrients and trace elements in the soil, there is one other chemical
aspect you need to know, is the soil Acid or Alkali (Lime). Most trees are fairly indifferent to this,
however Ericaeceous plants such as Azeleas and Camellias must have an acid soil, which is usually
sold at garden centers for potting Heathers. Please don't assume that the peat (or substitute) is
acidic, it's likely that lime has been added to it.
There are a number of well known formulations for composts and while the formulas are tried and
tested, the materials used in them often contain a lot of dust, which will be washed down to the
bottom of the pot and form a solid mass, killing the roots and tree. Coniferous trees will benefit from
grittier soil than Deciduous trees. A good general compost would be 50/25/25 Peat/Sand/Grit with
40/30/30 Peat/Sand/Grit for conifers. The sand should be Horticultural, or sieved sand as others
contain a lot of fine dust.
I'd define grit as any stone that would pass through a sieve with a 4mm mesh but not through a 2mm
mesh. These larger stones keep the soil open and allow air to get to the roots. The effect is reduced
somewhat at the soil settles but it helps to promote root growth after repotting.
It also increases the drainage. The last thing most trees need is to be sitting in a wet mass of soil
(although some trees will benifit from these conditions (Willows, Swamp cypress)), it's a gateway for
fungal infections. Grit and Sand, it should be remembered will reduce the volume of water a given
amount of soil can hold.
Here in the UK, Horticultural Grit is available in any decent garden center, It's generally crushed,
sieved granite.

If however you have access to someone who stocks either 'Akadama' or 'Kanuma' clays then you are
well advised to use them. Akadama,is great for general use, Kanuma tends to be sold for acid loving
trees such as Azeleas, but is no more acidic than akadama, it's just that kanuma is the 'local' soil for
the main azelea growing area of Japan. Azeleas thrive in akadama. Both are granular clays and
provide a wonderful open soil, giving amazing root growth. Before use you should use a fine sieve,
such as a flour sieve to remove any dust.
If you have purchased a bonsai from a non specialist supplier there is a likelihood that the tree was
mass produced in China, the country where bonsai (pen-jing) originated. Look closely at the compost
it is almost certainly clay and you will not see grit or anything else that will open the soil and allow air
to the roots. This clay will soon compact down as the tree is watered and choke the roots. The
tree needs to be repotted at the earliest opportunity.

If you have not already done so, you may come across books on bonsai that
recommend 'layering' the soil, Putting a coarse open soil at the bottom of the
pot, building up to a fine soil at the top. This method provides excellent drainage
but tends to keep most of the water at the top of the pot denying roots at
the bottom enough water, while giving you an false impression that the tree
is adequately watered. Current thinking is that one soil size throughout the
pot is best, giving an equal distribition of water.

                                                    13
Creating a Bonsai
Bonsai can be obtained in a number of ways. A bonsai from a dealer may seem an expensive option,
however you will be buying much more than just a tree. You will find someone to talk to if you have a
problem. Most dealers run classes for beginners and indeed some organise workshops run by
internationally known figures in the world of bonsai. These courses are of great benifit if you want to
take your knowledge that little bit further. Bonsai dealers will also be able to put you in touch with
any local group. You should also bear in mind that the price tag on the tree reflects the time that
someone has put into creating it and indeed if the tree is imported will reflect the shipping charge
and any costs incurred while the tree is in quarantine.
However the most enjoyable aspect of Bonsai is to see a tree that you have created on show.

Creating a Bonsai from Seed




                        The seeds of Abies Nephrolepis the Manchunian Fir (x4)

You may wish to grow a tree from seed. This will give you absolute control over the tree from its
beginning. The best advice I can give you is Don't do it!. Life's to short.
You may have been the lucky recipient of one of the many 'Bonsai Kits' available, go on try it!, follow
the instructions, watch those precious little seeds germinate, poke their heads above the soil, and
die. On closer inspection you will probably find the seedling has rotted at about soil level, this is
called 'Damping off' and is a fungal attack. You can overcome this by adding a fungicide to the first
watering and then as directed by the instructions. Bonsai 'kits' put people off the hobby, convincing
them that bonsai are difficult to keep, as such they should be avoided.
You should of course be aware that trees used in Bonsai are not 'special', not genetically diferent,
they are the same trees as you see all around you.
All of us have access to tree seeds, in parks or woods, our own gardens or perhaps through specialist
suppliers. These will be 'fresher' than other sources.
When you have your seeds devide them into two lots. If you live in a temperate part of the world the
chances are that your seeds will need to be chilled to start them growing, this is called 'Stratification'.
Put half of the seeds in a container (a plastic bag) and place them in the refrigerator (not the freezer)
for a few weeks. Plant the remainder straight away. If you come from the Tropics plant the seeds
soon after collection.
They should be planted in a sturdy pot, or tray, and left to their own devices. This may take a year or
so but provided they are not disturbed by birds, mice, or you, they should, if fertile germinate.




                                                    14
         This tray of Beech seedlings are ready to be planted out into individual pots.

Assuming that you have planted all the seeds in a tray, as soon as they are managable you
should pot them on into seperate pots. At this repotting cut the tip off of the main or tap root,
this causes side roots to develop and will give a strong radial root structure.




Creating a Bonsai from cuttings
Cuttings are a resonable way of starting a tree but yet again they will take some time to develop.
Most trees will take from cuttings, Pines however will not. Some species, Willow for example will
root from a piece of wood as thick as your arm, if left in a bucket of water. You need to know a bit
about the tree you are dealing with.
There are two types of cutting that interest us in bonsai, hardwood and softwood or 'semi-ripe'.

Hardwood cuttings

These are usually taken at the end of the growing season, from this years growth.
Dig a 'V' shaped trench about a spit (Spade depth) deep and put about 5cm of sharp sand in the
bottom. Take your cuttings and have them about 12cm longer than the hole is deep. Dip the end in
hormone rooting compound and place them in the trench, at about 6cm apart. Now fill the trench in.
The following spring they will start into growth, leave them where they are through that year and dig
them up the following spring.



                                                  15
Softwood cuttings

Are taken from this year's growth, usually in early summer. They should be kept in a shaded place as
the sun will 'cook' them. Before taking them prepare a seed tray or pot and have a clear cover ready,
a large plastic bag will do. The compost can be either 50:50 Peat:Sand, or 50:50 Peat:Pearlite. You
may substitute the peat for a similar material such as coia (coconut)
Take the strongest growth you can and remove any soft tips as these will rot. Leave about four
leaves. Dip the end in rooting compound and insert into the compost, deep enough to avoid touching
the bottom of the container. Make sure you press the soil firmly around each cutting. Water the lot
thoroughly with a fungicide added. Now put the clear cover over the container.
leave them until new growth appears and if it is not to late in the season pot them on into individual
pots.

Conifer cuttings

Most Conifers are easy to root from cuttings (Pines being
the exception). They can be treated as softwood cuttings,
but will take longer to root. When removing them
from the stock plant break them off with a 'heel' of
old wood. Take all foliage that will be below soil                                              level
off as this will rot.



Creating a Bonsai by Layering

Layering is a very good way of starting a tree. The technique of layering can be split into two
types.

Ground layering

Where you fix a low growing branch into the
ground (or a container). Anchor the branch to
the ground with a steak, or cane to stop the tree
moving, and mound soil over the area to be rooted.

The tree is usually left alone until the
following spring when it may be dug up, and
potted. If the tree is a conifer the best
course of action is to carefully remove the
soil around the cut to see if adequate roots
have formed, replacing the soil if not. The
tree should then be left for another year.

The trunk should be treated with a rooting compound as shown in the following section.




                                                 16
Air layering

This tree is being Air layered, the top part will be grown on to thicken it
up, the bottom part will produce shoots, one of which will form a new
leader that will eventually give a good tapered trunk.
The layering is wrapped in clear plastic, which will have a layer of black
plastic put over it, as roots grow best in the dark. The black plastic can
be opened when you wish to inspect progress, or check that the moss
is still damp.



With both ground, and air layering, the technique below should be followed, noting the
difference between deciduous, and coniferous trees.

      First remove a ring of bark, about as deep as the tree is wide.(for Conifers read the
       section below)
      Smear the upper cut with hormone rooting compound*, and wrap in wet florists
       moss (Sphagnum).
      * Enclose in a plastic bag, and tie both ends.
      *Check regularly for root growth, and that the moss is still damp.
      Allow time for enough roots to develop to support the tree. (see Note)
      Cut tree from stock tree.
      Pot tree into a container. * But do not remove moss.
      Tie the tree into the container to stop it rocking around, rocking will break the new
       roots, and kill the tree.

       *Not needed in ground layering*

       Note: In most cases you are advised to leave the layering until the plant is in growth
       the following year.




                                               17
The 'Ringing' method works well with
deciduous species, however for
conifers an alternative way is best.
This involves wrapping a piece of
strong wire around the trunk, and
twisting it until it bites right into the
bark. Then cut a number of small
nicks in the bark just above the wire,
and apply hormone compound, then
wrap in moss.
Conifers take longer to root by
layering, and may not show roots
until the following year.

On the whole most species will root but pines are pigs, and may take up to five years to do so. Air
layering should be your preferred option as it produces a good radial root formation.


The moss in the bag must be kept moist at all times. There is a tendency for the water in the moss to
be absorbed into the trunk, and out through the leaves. You may have to open the top of the bag,
and pour water into it.

When it's time to separate your tree, try to create
a balance between the volume of root, and the
amount of foliage present. This may mean
reducing the foliage, but a tree that is 'out of
balance' like the one on the left may find it difficult
to survive.
When planting the tree, choose a deep pot, and
put the root ball deep down into it, filling the pot
with soil. This will stop the tree rocking in the
wind, and damaging the new roots.
Under no circumstances should you try to remove
the moss, as this will damage the soft new roots.
The moss will decompose in a short while, and any

left can be removed when the tree is next repotted.

Creating a Bonsai from Garden Centre stock
This is a great way of starting a bonsai collection. You will need above all to remember what you are
setting out to do. It is not unusual when creating a bonsai this way to find yourself cutting off 75% off
the original tree in order to reveal the bonsai inside the massof foliage. Remember on a well
maintained tree the areas of foliage you keep will develop quickly into reasonable pads. Don't be
fainthearted about it.




                                                     18
                                A two year sequence would look like this:




                        With the tree on the left as you might have purchased it.
Try not to select a tree with a straight trunk unless you want a Formal Upright. Look for something
with a good taper or perhaps somthing with a branch that can make a new top to the tree if you
remove the existing leader. Doing this and wiring the new leader upright will give you instant trunk
taper.

Selecting a tree for conversion

Walking around a garden center, looking for a tree to convert to a bonsai can be a bewildering
experience for the beginner. I would suggest that you start with a conifer, preferably a juniper type.

Explore the Garden center, looking for trees
with good, thick trunks and a reasonable
number of branches radiating away from the
trunk in all directions, like the spokes of a
wheel.
At this point you will need to select the front of
the tree. This is usually the point giving the best
view of the trunk. Ideally it will not have any
branches growing toward the viewer, or any
there are, when removed will leave minimal
scars.


The tree you select may start as a
blob of foliage, but will with the aid
of wiring and pruning end up as a
good bonsai. Within this blob of
foilage is a trunk and branch
structure,




                                                      19
 You can reduce the height of an overtall tree, and at the same time increase it's taper by removing
the top of the tree above a suitable branch and wiring the branch upward to produce a new head for
        the tree. You then have the choice of either removing the unwanted top or jinning it.

If you talk to the owner of the centre you may find they have an area (usually out of public view)
where they put any damaged stock or those trees that don't conform to the ideal (for a garden). If
they know your interested you may be able to do a deal and get some good material at knock down
prices.

When you've got the tree home spend some time looking at the trunk, and draw out the various
options, both how the tree looks now and how it should lookin a few years. Then when you are
happy mark those branches you wish to cut out and remove them.
This generally means using something like secaturs or a small saw, however if you have access to
specialist bonsai tools get yourself a pair of 'wen'or parrot beak cutters. These cut a small dimple into
the trunk and this will heal over better than a level cut.
having finished removing material your thoughts will turn to wiring. Don't be in to much of a hurry to
do this. in fact it's probably better to leave this until the following year.
Don't be in to much of a rush to repot the tree.
Forests of potentially good bonsai have been killed by
rushing them into a pot. Have patience, leave the tree
for a year to recover and then pot it up. That will give
you some time to select a matching pot.

When either purchasing a tree for conversion, or
collecting a tree from the wild, you will find the tree
will have a major root going downward. This is called
the taproot and must be removed for the tree to fit
into a shallow bonsai pot.
This process may need to be carried out over several
repottings and can in the case of pines take quite a
while to achieve. However if you read the section on
layering you will be able to induce new roots above
the place where you wish to cut the taproot.
You may, if you have removed a lot of root at one
time, have to remove some of the foliage to 'balance'
the tree.




                                                   20
Creating a Bonsai by digging a tree
This is one of the most rewarding ways of aquireing a bonsai. You must however get the site owners
permission. Scources of this type of material are: Garden clearance, Building sites/new road works,
or perhaps your local forest. Join a club and get them to organise a dig. You local version of our
Forestry Commision is also worth a try. Keep your eyes open and explain to the site owner what you
want to do.
Don't be put off by larger bits of material, particularly Deciduous trees, these will bud back from the
trunk. These buds will allow you to develop a new head and branches. Trees with 6-10cm wide trunks
will make good bonsai.




A newly collected stump and how it
could look in a few years. The trunk
had been hollowed out to give the
impression of taper. This technique
is called Sabamiki.




                                               If at all possible try to spread the collection over two
                                               years. The first year dig a trench around the tree,
                                               severing any major roots. Treat these cut ends with
                                               rooting powder and fill the trench in again. This will
                                               form new fiberous roots close to the trunk and aid the
                                               trees survival when you come back to collect it. Year
                                               two dig the trench out carefully and avoid to much
                                               root damage.
                                               Dig out under the tree and cut any remaining roots,
                                               trying to avoid removing to much soil from the root
                                               ball, as this will stress the tree. Wrap the root ball in a
                                               cloth or bag and tie it up. If you are going to lift the
                                               tree at the first attempt, cut under the tree with a
                                               spade and saw through any roots, then ease the root
                                               ball into a bag.

Before collecting you should have a container large enough to cope with the tree, I use plastic
washing bowls with large holes cut in the bottom. You should also have a fairly gritty compost
available.
On arrival home pot the tree up as soon as you are able, tying it in to the container to avoid
disturbance to the newly forming roots.
Don't be in to much of a hurry to work on the tree, leave it for at least a year to recover.




                                                  21
   When either purchasing a tree for
   conversion, or collecting a tree from the
   wild, you will find the tree will have a
   major root going downward. This is called
   the taproot and must be removed for the
   tree to fit into a shallow bonsai pot.
   This process may need to be carried out
   over several repottings and can in the case
   of pines take quite a while to achieve.
   However if you read the section on
   layering you will be able to induce new
   roots above the place where you wish to
   cut the taproot.
   You may, if you have removed a lot of root
   at one time, have to remove some of the
   foliage to 'balance' the tree.




A good collecting site, with lots of Beech, some Pine and Silver Birch.




                                                   22
A case study on creating a Bonsai from a stock tree
(Garden center or Collected)
The tree you select may start as a blob of
foliage, but will with the aid of wiring and
pruning end up as a good bonsai.
Look for a tree with lots of branches, leaving
the trunk in all directions, a good taper to the
trunk, or a branch that can be wired up to
form a new leader if the existing top is
removed.
Explore the roots as best you can, getting
your fingers down into the compost if
possible. Remember that you are looking for
a radial root structure, just like the branches,
but that any problems there are with the
roots can be worked on at repotting time.

When you get the tree home don't be in to much of a hurry to start work on it. Become familiar with
its structure. Decide what will be the front of the tree, placing a marker where the front will be.
A sketch of what you hope the tree will look like with unwanted branches removed and others wired
into place, will come in handy. Then get hacking!.

Now we can start removing any branches that
are in the wrong place or parts of those
branches going in the wrong direction.
The lowest branch on the right seems to be in
about the ideal place for the first branch,
appearing to be a good size for the position.
The part of the branch in red points upward and
may be to thick to wire down, the remainder of
that branch can be grown on to fill in any gaps
left by its removal.
The Blue branch is directly opposite another
major branch and can be removed, the Green
branch being wired down and developed to fill
in the gap.
To the right we see the tree with the branches
removed.
                                                    Much the same applies to the branches marked in
                                                    this illustration. Red branches point upward and
                                                    can be cut back to downward pointing shoots.
                                                    Remembering to seal any large cuts, either with
                                                    cut wound paste if available, however grafting
                                                    wax, or paint will substitute.
                                                    The Blue branch is opposite another strong
                                                    branch and with another (Green) branch available
                                                    to wire into place, may be removed.



                                                   23
Bear in mind that this type of work on the
branches would be carried out on all branches,
not just those at the front.

Removing the branches at the top has
lightened it, helping to give the tree a more
triangular shape. This will need to be
maintained over the years to stop the
tendency toward apical dominance.




Repotting the tree
With so much of the original foliage removed you may consider putting the tree into a bonsai
container. It is possible to do so at this time, but bear in mind you still have no firm idea what shape
the roots are in. My advice is to repot the tree, but either back into it's original container, or into
something shallower, if the root structure permits.

Remove the tree from the pot. Begin to tease the
roots out, removing the soil. This process can take
some time, so have a water spray available and
wet the roots occasionally.
With most of the soil removed, you can see the
root structure. The large root going straight down
is called the tap root, assuming there are plenty
of other roots available, this should be removed.

The chances are that you will not have a suitable
bonsai pot available, so repot the tree into a
suitably sized training container. The section of
the Primer on repotting covers the actual
mechanics of the process.

                                                    The tree is now in it's training pot. Do not expose it
                                                    to direct sunlight for a month or so, then gradually
                                                    bring it out into direct sunlight, you may also begin
                                                    to feed it with a weak fertiliser.
                                                    Leave the tree alone for that year, then begin to
                                                    apply the principles outlined in refining your tree.




                                                    24
Feeding
Alright I admit it!, when I first became aware of bonsai in the mid 1970's I, like a lot of beginners
thought that the mystique of bonsai was in keeping them just this side of dead. One of the things
that never occurred to me was to feed them, believing that they would get all the nutrients they
needed when repotted into fresh soil. Needless to say that not many of those trees are still around.
I should point out that you are not feeding the tree to make it grow, you are replacing the nutrients
the tree has used because it's growing and that feeding a sick tree is a recipe for disaster. Only feed
healthy trees!
When developing a young bonsai, the last thing you want to do is to starve it, adding years to the
time it takes to get the tree 'Showable'. As the tree matures you may wish to slow it down a little,
you can achieve this by varying the type of feed given, away from high nitrogen feeds, but not the
amount.
During the growing season (In the UK it's mid March - early September) your trees should be fed
once a fortnight with an appropriate feed for what you are trying to do with the tree. This would be a
high Nitrogen feed for developing trees and a more balanced type for mature trees. Bear in mind
that trees stop growing and hence absorbing nutrients during the high summer. As the trees begin to
slow down towards Autumn feed them once a month. After leaf fall stop feeding the deciduous
trees, conifers however will benefit from a couple of feeds over winter.
Indoor bonsai continue to grow throughout the year and should be fed all year.
Now we come to one of the more contentious issues in the Gardening world, Organic, or Man-made
feeds. I could fill screen after screen on this matter and all it would do is to confuse (Me). The only
advice I have for you is that organic feeds are less likely to burn the roots if overfed, but ultimately
either is better than none.
My own preference is for pelleted Chicken manure on those trees not for show and liquid fishmeal in
trees which may be shown. You will NOT want to use these on indoor trees so perhaps a feed made
from seaweed or a chemical feed.

Feeding repotted trees
Under no circumstances should you feed a newly repotted tree. Doing so may stop the recovery of
the roots. Leave the tree at least a month, before starting feeding again.

Overfeeding
As I said above, you feed to replace the food a tree has used in growing, however putting to much
fertiliser, particularly chemical based, is a sure way to kill your bonsai, it's how some weedkillers
work. If you suspect you may have overfed a tree, try to wash as much of the fertiliser out of the soil
as you can. You can do this by trickling water through the soil (with a hose) for a few days.

No matter whether the fertiliser you choose is organic, or chemical, it will contain certain chemical
elements, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the main three.
Inspection of the container the fertiliser comes in will reveal the chemical breakdown of the
contents. The major three are expressed as a ratio such as 10:10:10 N:P:K (K being the symbol for
Potassium), this would be a balanced fertiliser, with about the same amounts of all three major
chemicals. A 15:8:8 would be high nitrogen and better suited to developing trees, an 8:8:15 is a high
Pottasium feed, fed to more mature, or flowering trees. While the ratios may differ depending on the
supplier the concept will remain the same.

Nitrogen (N)
Nitrogen promotes the growth of the trees leaves and shoots. An excess of nitrogen is dangerous,
causing the the plant develop large, dark leaves and delaying the hardening of the wood. overfeeding

                                                  25
nitrogen will also delay the production of blossom . Trees are also prone to diseases such as scab or
canker if overfed on nitrogen. A shortage of nitrogen is suggested by the pale colour and poor growth
of the leaves.

Phosphorus (P)
Phosphorus encourages the growth of roots and flowers. Unlike nitrogen a plant will not take up
more phosphorus than it needs. A shortage of phosphorus is indicated by a reddish tinge to the
leaves which also point upwards. Superphosphate, applied at the beginning of summer for about two
months, in the correct quantities for bonsai, will improve the blossom.

Potassium (K)
Helps the wood to harden, as well as increasing the roots ability to absorb both nutrients and the
water they're dissolved in. The symptoms of a shortage of potassum are brownish flecks and curling
edges on the leaves. Unfortunately the leaves will not recover and will have to be removed

Sequestered Iron
Not as such a fertiliser, but important if you keep Azeleas. It helps Calciphobe plants absorb nutients.
A couple of doses of Sequestered iron during the growing season will suffice.


Indoor Bonsai
I must start by saying that there are no such thing as "Indoor" bonsai!, however any plant originating
from Tropical or Sub-tropical, but kept in Temperate areas of the world will need to be kept in a
warm, well lit environment when the weather outside may harm them. Under no circumstances
should any tree from an area of the world subject to 'Hard' winters be kept in a heated and lit
environment over winter in the mistaken belief that they are far more delicate than they in fact are.
Doing this is a sure way to kill your tree. Indeed no tree from a 'temperate' part of the globe should
be kept indoors for more than a few days viewing.

If the species you wish to keep originated in
the tropics and if you live outside of the
tropics, the tree will need protection, but
may be kept outdoors in the summer.
If you live in the tropics and the tree
originated there, the only constraint on
keeping the tree indoors would be the
amount of light available, matched to the
needs of the plant, for example, if you are
growing a tree that survives in dense
rainforest, it will have evolved to cope with
low light situations.




Feeding
Indoor bonsai continue to grow throuout the year and should be fed all year.




                                                   26
Light
When the climate is suitable put your (indoor) trees outdoors
they will benefit from the extra light. As indoor bonsai tend
to be kept by flat dwellers this may be either on a balcony or
on a windowsill (secure them down to avoid them landing on
someone's head).

Providing adequate light for you indoor trees is going to be
your biggest problem, unless you are going to provide
artificial lighting your trees will need to be placed as close to
a window as possible. Plant growth in low light situations
becomes long and pale.
The illustration shows the 'Inverse square law', a law known to photographers.

Light radiates outward from a source (in this case the Sun), so light passing through a window is
radiating outward, theoretically every time you double the distance of the tree from the window the
amount of light falling on the tree is quartered. This may seem difficult to believe, but over the
millenia the human eye has evolved to compensate for differences in light levels, so we could see the
bear asleep at the back of the cave we were about to move into. Plants do not have this advantage,
so in practice, keep your trees as near to the window as possible.

A lack of light will cause growth to become thin and pale.
This is called 'etiolated growth' and such growth has a
greatly reduced potential for photosynthesis and limit the
plants ability to produce food.
Bonsai kept indoors, in inadequately, or improperly lit
places, will be prone to this.




A normal and an etiolated shoot under sun and artificial lighting.




Heat
It is not a good idea to subject any plant kept indoors to sudden temperature changes, nor should
they be placed near a heat source. Do not place your trees on an inner windowsill, with the trees
trapped between the drawn curtains and the window, the temperature at night can be a lot lower in
this area.

Humidity
One of the problems with keeping any plant indoors, is that whatever source of heating you provide,
it will unless you are careful, dry any moisture out of the atmosphere in the room. This can be
overcome, by standing your trees on trays full of gravel, or one of the clay pellets such as Hortag. The

                                                  27
gravel, or pellet being immersed in water. Evaporation of the water will provide a moist
microclimate, around the tree.
There is I should point out a down side to this, that being the possible damage to the
house/contents, caused by condensation.

Rotate your trees
The main function of leaves is to turn light into food for the tree. The tree will not put energy into
producing or maintaining branches and leaves where they will get no light, they will in fact shed
those branches. To maintain a tree with 'depth' you will need to rotate you trees so that both the
front and back get an adequate amount of light.
This may mean turning the tree around for a week or so every month, but it's better to look at the
back of a tree with a full set of branches, than something with all the visual 'depth', of a cardboard
cut-out.
                                                         The Illustration to the left shows the sun's
                                                         passage around a tree, with little light getting
                                                         to the branches at the back. This, in a tree
                                                         kept indoors will usually be on the room side
                                                         of the tree, foliage and branches there will die
                                                         if not given enough light.




Artificial Light
Artificial lighting is a great way of
keeping your indoor trees healthy, if
used in conjunction with natural light.
Daylight may be considered to be
made up of the three primary colours
Red, Green and Blue, although blue is
by far the largest component and the
best suited to photosynthesis. Green
light is for the most part reflected off
the leaf and its this reflected light that
gives leaves their colour.
Avoid using normal household
filament and fluorescent lamps as
they do not emit light at the right
wavelengths for healthy plant growth, go for lamps from specialist suppliers, usually they advertise in
gardening or aquatic magazines.
Tungsten filament lamps emit a continuous spectrum peaking in the red area and falling away in the
blue, the colour most suited to Photosynthesis, reducing the plants ability to turn light into energy.

Flurescent lamps emit a different spectrum,
with peaks at varying wavelengths depending
on the type of lamp. Some tubes, particularly
those made for the Aquarist trade will give a
good approximation of daylight.

                                                   28
The impact of unsuitable lighting on trees kept indoors cannot be understated. If you must keep
bonsai indoors please talk to your local
garden center about appropriate lighting.

Displaying your trees
Indoor trees can be shown on a stand like
that to the right, however care must be
taken to protect the stand from water.




Jin, Sharimiki and Sabamiki
Among the tricks used to 'Age' a bonsai is the dead wood technique. Used to give the impression of a
tree that has perhaps been struck by lightning, or suffered some other trauma long ago.
Jins & Shari's are usually seen on conifers. Deciduous trees tend to heal over such wounds, shedding
the branch in doing so.
Jin & Sharimiki are often used when creating a bonsai from either nursery stock or collected material.
Usually to mask a defect, perhaps an overlarge branch, or to reduce an overtall tree and give it a
better trunk taper to height ratio.
Ideally dead wood effects should look weathered. Roughen, or carve the timber wherever possible.

                              The tree to the left shows a lot of both Jin and Sharimiki. The lower
                        branch on the right, showing a strip of living tissue wrapped around the
                         branch, in much the same way as wire would be, This bark supports the
                         foliage at the tip.

                            The tree was drawn from a photograph.
                             Sabamiki is generally used on collected material, with a large trunk.
                             So what is the difference between Jin and Sharimiki ?




                                                  29
Jins occur on either the top of the tree or as a    Sharimiki is a dead area on the trunk and is often
dead branch.                                        described as 'Driftwood style' but is not a true
                                                    style, more an effect that can be applied to a
                                                    number of styles.




Trees with two leaders look unnatural. If
you have such a tree you should consider
turning the taller of the two into a jin, giving
the impression of a tree that has suffered a
trauma, such as being hit by lightning,
adding to the feeling of age.




Sabamiki
Sabamiki, or hollow trunk tends to be used to disguise the lack of taper in collected
material, particularly when that material may best be described as a 'stump'. This is
not a technique for the faint hearted. Whenever I've made a 'Sabamiki' tree I've put
the trunk in a 'Workmate' and carved it out with a power drill. I use a burr or router
cutter for the actual removal of the wood. You can however carve it out with a
chisel and this is I feel a safer method, provided that you remember always cut
away from you.
I have seen demonstrations where chainsaws have been used, to very good
effect. On completion of the hollowing I've charred the inside if the tree with
a blowtorch, then wire brushed the surface smooth then treated it with a
preservative (read on).
The best time to do this is at repotting time when the roots are bare,
but wrap them in a wet cloth to protect them.

The illustration to the left shows two cross section views of hollow trunks. How much wood you
                                                     remove is down to your feeling on what will give
                                                     the best effect, as much as your ability to remove
                                                     the wood.
                                                     Remember to treat the wood with a preservative.




The dead wood is treated with a preservative available from
bonsai outlets, it's a mixture of lime and sulphur. PLEASE read
the instructions carefully. And wear goggles !!




                                                   30
     A bottle of lime-sulphur (I hope)




31
Pests and Diseases
All living things are eaten by other living things and your bonsai are no exception.
A healthy tree will be able to shake off most diseases, keep it well fed use sharp tools to make cuts
that will heal over better and you should have very few problems.

Insects
The Type of insect taking an interest in your tree will vary with where
you are in the world, however your response will tend to be the same.
Man's ingenuity has provided us with chemicals to really put them off
their lunch. Some of you will favour organic methods of growing your
trees, however good these methods may be their response time will not
be as fast as a good dose of Malathion.




Red Spider Mite
If, in the joints between branches you see fine white cobwebs, you may
have an infestation of red spider mite. They, as their name suggests look like spiders and make a web
like substance. They're microscopic, just visible with a magnifying glass. That will not however stop
them killing you tree. They tend to be associated with indoor trees, as they prefer a warm dry
climate. Your local garden store should have something for them to drink (terminally). After that,
spray (mist) your trees regularly with water, and see, what I have to say about Humidity.

Fungus
I should start by saying that not all fungi are harmfull to your trees, all plants have a symbiotic root
fungus called Mycorrhiza which benifits the tree. It can usually be seen as a thin white sheet around
the roots, on repotting and is particularly noticable on Pines, it is as I said benificial. However most
fungi will kill your tree, or disfigure the leaves.
Fungi enter your tree through wounds and particularly those wounds below soil level, so when
repotting your trees the first watering should contain a fungicide. Other fungi, such as mildew or
blackspot will attack your leaves, disfiguring them and greatly reducing their ability to feed the tree,
regular spraying with a fungicide will help to prevent this.

Scab
Scab is a disease commonly associated with Fruit trees. It is often seen in trees continually fed with
high nitrogen feeds. It's unlikely to be seen in a bonsai fed with a well balanced fertiliser.
High Nitrogen feeds promote rapid, soft growth and this, if damaged may allow scab to enter, so
watch out.
Scab itself is typified by the shrinking and drying of an area of bark. If you are the victim of such an
attack you will find a remidy, usually a spray in your garden center.
Assuming you,ve stopped the attack in time, you might consider applying a 'Dead wood' effect to the
damaged area.

Other Pests




                                                   32
Cats
Cats are not a problem if dealt with in a sympathetic
and understanding manor.

My own late moggie had a spot on my Bonsai racks
where he liked to sun himself. I left a space for him,
aren't cats quick when you start to water your trees ?.



Little Helpers
The last thing I would suggest is that you keep you children away from your trees, however very
young children will mimic their parents as part of the growing process. If they see you working on a
tree they may decide to 'help' you, with perhaps disasterous results for your trees. Keep your tools
away from them.




Pots
The Pot is often referred to as the 'Frame' to the bonsai's 'Picture', Wronnng!!!. A bonsai is the
bringing together of both in visual harmony.
Choose the pot carefully and remember that the two of them may be together for a very long time.
Anyone starting a bonsai collection now has a far greater choice of pots than were available ten or so
years ago, with some fine potters throughout the world and bonsai traders being driven by customer
demand, and their own ever increasing knowledge.
Selecting the pot for your tree if you are developing either a wild, or nursery stock tree can be a hard
choice. The illustration below shows a tree (broom style)in three different pots, the pot on the right
is wrong, it's only suited to a cascade style tree. The one in the middle is better, a more appropriate
width, length but a bit to deep. Perhaps a rectangle is the wrong shape. The shallow pot on the left
while drying out quicker when watered I would suggest is the most suitable.




All pots used in bonsai have drainage holes, often they have smaller holes to pass wire through to
secure the tree when repotting.




                                                  33
Pot Colour
As a rule, Conifers tend to be planted in
plain, often earth coloured pots, however
deciduous, or flowering trees may be
planted in a pot of a colour that
complements the tree at a particular time
of year. The maple illustrated to the right,
shows the tree with its normal foliage in a
pale blue (Cyan) pot. It looks fine in a pot
of this colour, however when the tree
takes on its autumn tints the blue pot and
yellow foliage really come together.
The same rule applies to flowering plants.
select a pot that suits the time when they
are in flower, but still looks good
throughout the remainder of the year.


Choosing a pot to enhance the 'Mood' of the tree




Try to select a pot that suits what the tree is trying to 'say'. The example to the left, in a rectangular
pot seems to be isolated from the landscape. This is fine on a more formal, or heavier tree, however
if you wish to evoke a tree which is in harmony with the landscape, go for a shallower, oval pot .

                                               Ideally the width of the pot should be about the same as
                                               the spread of the branches, and the depth, about the
                                               same as the width of the trunk at the point where the
                                               root flare ends.
                                               The width of the pot (a), should be about the same as the
                                               spread of the branches (b). The Depth of the pot (c)
                                               should match the trunk width, just above the end of the
                                               root flare (d).




                                                     34
Cascade pots
Selecting a suitable pot for a cascade tree can be
difficult, pick a pot that's to wide and it makes
the tree seem less substantial than in a
narrower pot. Picking a pot that's too deep will
have the same effect.
Ideally the pot width should be about half the span
of the tree, and it's depth no more than half the
depth (hight) of the tree.
Remember that Cascade trees are always displayed on
stands, lifting the lowest part of the tree off the surface.




                                    Part of a suppliers pot sales shed.




Alternative's to pots
Not everyone has access to 'proper' bonsai pots, so let's look at a number of alternatives. I have seen
earthenware casserole dishes, pie dishes and such, used with drainage holes drilled in them. I've
seen pots made from cement over a glass fiber mat. although nothing quite comes up to a proper
bonsai pot, you sometimes have to go with what your ingenuity will give you.



Cement
Cement is misunderstood by most people. A requirement of most civil engineering projects is that
'test blocks' of each batch of cement delivered are kept. These blocks when they are set, are stored
under water for a couple of weeks, then tested to distruction under a massive press (I worked on the
test segments for the channel tunnel linings). The reason for keeping them wet lays in the way that
cement works.
As part of the curing process crystals grow between the aggregate used (sand, rocks, etc).The longer
the cement remains damp, the bigger and better the crystals and the stronger the cement.
If you are using cement to make pots, then keep it in the shade and when it's solid place it in water if
you can, or keep it in a large plastic bag to retain the moisture. Give it at lease two weeks before use.
Low temperatures will affect the curing of cement, try to avoid using it if the ambient temperature is,
or is likely to drop below 6c.


                                                    35
Don't forget that cement dyes are available
from hardware stores,
You may consider planting your bonsai in a slab
of rock, this is a well recognised alernative to a
pot. The rock need not have drainage holes but
should, if you are able to do so, have holes
drilled in it to enable you to tie the tree down. If
you cannot drill holes in the rock, try
'supergluing' some metal hoops to the slab,
looping the tying material through those.
Slab plantings suit most styles execept for
formal upright and full cascade.




                                                                     A raft style tree planted on a slab

You should not be in to much of a hurry to get your tree into a proper pot, remember that doing so
will restrict the roots and slow down the development of a tree that is still in training. By far the
largest number of my own trees are in training pots, generally washing up bowls, when the time
comes to show them they're potted up. The temptation, when you have only a few trees to have
them in good pots is immense, if you give in to temptation always go for a pot larger than might
seem appropriate.
Looking through magazines and books over the years, and of course visiting exhibitions, I've noticed
there is a tendancy to pot conifers, particularly Pines in deeper, plainer, darker pots than used for
deciduous trees. These pots, often dark brown, and rectangular seem to go well with pines.

The most unusual pot you will
come across is the suiban. This
pot is used in Saikei or Tray
Landscapes
This tray has a divider and one
part of the pot has no holes.
Unlike other Bonsai pots it is
glazed on the inside. The glazed
part is filled with water to
symbolize the sea or a lake.




                                                       36
Pruning and Leaf trimming
Pruning and removing branches
Ideally the trunk and branches of a bonsai should have no major pruning scars, however this is
impractical if you are creating a bonsai from nursery stock, or removing a branch to re-style a tree.

Branch pruning
                                                    Wen cutters bite into the tree, removing a dimple
                                                    of wood. This will heal over better, A flush cut
                                                    with a saw will produce an unsightly mound as
                                                    the bark grows over it




Sap flowing up and down the tree in the                                                            upper
example of the illustration to the right, will                                                     find it
difficult to get into the 'dead' area above the                                                    cut. A
cut like this will take longer to heal than the                                                    lower
example, where the cut allows a smoother                                                           flow
of sap.




                                                                                                     The
                                                                 quickest way to get a wound to heal
                                                                 is to allow the tree unrestricted
                                                                 growth. this may however have an
                                                                 adverse effect on the shape of the
                                                                 tree, causing the structure to become
                                                                 coarse. The best way to overcome
                                                                 this is to grow what is termed a
                                                                 'sacrificial leader'.
                                                                 Allowing a shoot at, or near the top
                                                                 of the tree to grow on for a few
                                                                 years, will not only increase the sap
                                                                 flow, healing the cut, but also has the
                                                                 added benifit of thickening the trunk.
                                                                 When the sacrificial leader has done
                                                                 its work it is cut off, or air layered if
                                                                 desired




                                                  37
Pruning conifers other than Pines

Pruning Pines

This section addresses the pruning of conifers with Juniper like foliage.
                                                 To maintain and develop the foliage pads of a
                                                 bonsai, the tree will need regular 'Pinching back'.
                                                 With deciduous trees this will mean pinching (or
                                                 cutting) off the growing tips of any extended
                                                 growth, this will cause side budding and give the
                                                 branch a much finer structure. The resulting fine
                                                 branches will only be able to produce smaller leaves.
                                                 Conifers differ in that you should not pinch (or cut)
                                                 the tips as this will cause any damaged needles to go
                                                 brown and spoil the looks of the tree. Conifer tips
                                                 should be plucked out between the ball of the
                                                 thumb and the first finger.




                                                     Pruning Junipers presents it's
own set of problems. You may assume that, as with deciduous trees, if you remove
all the growing tips of the foliage the tree will 'backbud', unfortunately this is not
the case with Junipers. Removal of all the tips on a particular extention will cause the         tree
to stop putting energy into that section, killing it. They are like Pines in this respect.




The main objective of pruning
Juniper like foliage is to make the
tree 'backbud', producing compact
foliage pads.
The illustration to the right shows
a section of a juniper pad ready
for pinching out. The illustration
to the far right shows the juniper
after pruning. You can see roughly
how much to remove. The lower
image shows the result of
removing all those growing tips,
backbudding onto old wood, and
the beginning of a good compact
foliage pad, which will improve
over the years.

                                                    38
Pruning for development

When developing a bonsai you will find that the top of the tree tends to grow faster than the bottom.
this is called 'Apical dominance'. You will never completely overcome this. In the early stages of the
trees development you will need to prune the top of the tree harder than the lower branches.




Differential pruning

Differential pruning overcomes the
trees natural tendency toward
'Apical dominance', that is the
tendency for most of the growth to
happen at the top of the tree. This is
undesireable in a bonsai.
By removing more buds on branches at the top of
the tree, than those lower down, you will see a better
structure develop in the lower branches,
they will thicken, as will the trunk
lower down the tree, giving a better
trunk taper.
I tend to do this to my deciduous
trees in the early spring, prior to bud
break, then again if the tree is leaf
trimmed.

Conifers are treated in the same way, except that the
buds are plucked off, rather than cut.




                                                 39
Pruning Pines

Pines make wonderful bonsai, however they are not the ideal 'first
tree'.There are skills you will need to aquire to cope with their
growing patterns.
Unlike deciduous trees and indeed most other conifers, pines will
rarely produce buds back on old wood, that is to say wood which has
shed its needles. Unless you learn to deal with this you will end up
with pads of foliage at the end of long denuded branches.

Deciduous trees tend to split in two at a leaf node, Pines are
capable of producing a bud wherever there is a needle,
but generally will only bud at the tip of this years
growth. As you can see from the illustration the
central bud is usually the strongest, this bud or
candle as they are called should be removed as
soon as possible. together with any 'spare' buds,
leaving only two.


Now your course of action depends on
wether you are developing or maintaining the
bonsai. If developing, the remaining buds are
allowed to grow on. In late summer, late July
early August in the UK, these candles are cut
back to a desirable length and soon side buds will
appear.




If you are maintaining a mature tree you should not allow to much extension of the candles. This is
achieved by breaking off most of the emerging candle, do not cut it as this will damage the tips of the
new needles and spoil the look of the tree. Again this will cause side buds and some back budding,
but without to much thickening of the branch.




                                           This tree had its growth cut back last summer, and is
                                                         now a mass of small buds




                                                     40
Pinching and Leaf trimming

         To maintain the foliage pads of a bonsai, the
tree will need regular 'Pinching back'. With
deciduous trees this will mean pinching (or cutting)
off the growing tips of any extended growth, this will
cause side budding and give the branch a much finer
structure. The resulting fine branches will only be
able to produce smaller leaves.
Conifers differ in that you should not pinch (or cut)
the tips as this will cause any damaged needles to go
brown and spoil the looks of the tree. Conifer tips
should be plucked out between the ball of the
thumb and the first finger, as shown in the lower
picture.

Leaf Trimming

         To the right are two Zelcova leaves which are reproduced to approx
actual size. The larger of them was taken from a tree growing in the ground
and the smaller from a bonsai.
You can imagine that a Bonsai with leaves of the larger size would look silly.
And as you should aim to make your trees as natural looking as possible.
The following applies only to trees that shed their leaves over winter. In
late Spring / early Summer leaves change from a soft texture to a harder
waxier one, this is the time to think about leaf trimming.

Leaf Trimming is carried out by cutting through the petiole (the leaf stalk) of
every leaf on the tree. It should only be done to healthy trees.
the removal of all the leaves tricks the tree into believing that it has just been
through a winter and it produces another set of leaves.
Those leaves are smaller and are produced on finer branches.
Over a few years the branches will develop a fine structure which is a pleasure to look at both in leaf
and over winter.
Only leaf trim trees that are truly deciduous, that is trees which shed their leaves over winter.




                                                   41
Cutting through the petiole and stalk at the first set of leaves, will cause the latent buds at the leaf
axils to start into growth. This, if done carefully will soon give a fine ramified branch structure. The
dead stem of the old shoot will soon drop off.



This is what is meant by ramification, a
fine tracery of branches that are a
pleasure to look at, both in winter and in
summer, when covered in small leaves.




Pruning a Bonsai to maintain its shape
When developing a bonsai you will find that the top of the tree tends to grow faster than the bottom.
this is called 'Apical dominance'. You will never completely overcome this. In the early stages of the
trees development you will need to prune the top of the tree harder than the lower branches.




                                                    42
Differential pruning

Differential pruning overcomes the
trees natural tendency toward 'Apical
dominance', that is the tendency for
most of the growth to happen at the
top of the tree. This is undesireable in a bonsai.
By removing more buds on branches at the top of the
tree, than those lower down, you will see a
better structure develop in the lower
branches, they will thicken, as will
the trunk lower down the tree,
giving a better trunk taper.
I tend to do this to my deciduous
trees in the early spring, prior to bud
break, then again if the tree is leaf trimmed. Conifers
are treated in the same way, except that the buds are
plucked off, rather than cut.




There are two things to lookout for when pruning your trees, things which you will not see on mature
trees.
You should try to remove any foliage hanging down from the branches, allowing the branch structure
to be seen from the side.




You should remove any
foliage growing at the point
where the branch and trunk
join. This happens mainly in
conifers.




                                                  43
Refining Bonsai
The section of the 'Primer' on the various styles that bonsai may be grown in, made no mention of
the placement of the branches to get the best effect, or how wiring is used to add to the impression
of age. In this section we will look at what can be done to take your tree that little bit further.
Some of the Text and illustrations, you may have seen in other sections of the 'Primer', but it's worth
repeating some important points.

If you are able to see, either as pictures, or in the flesh
(wood), good quality bonsai, you will notice that the
foliage is generally in a triangular shape. Alongside is an
illustration of one of my San-Jose junipers the upper
image is as the tree was when converted from a nursery
tree. At that time it lacked growth at the top, however by
allowing a small branch to develop, it's gradually acquiring a triangular
form.




Refining branches
Mature trees generally have open areas, or 'negative' areas between their foliage pads and not
developing these in a bonsai would give the impression of it being a shrub, not a tree.




As branches get closer to the top of the tree, their angle to the trunk should get closer to horizontal.
The reason behind this is that the lower, heavier branches would have been forced down by the
weight of the foliage over the years. The upper, smaller branches would have been less affected.


                                                   44
If you draw an imaginary line out from the top of the tree, to a point equal to the height of the tree, a
line drawn through each branch should meet that point.
While this is not a hard and fast rule, it should be borne in mind when placing branches and if
achieved will add to the overall feeling of age.

Having got your tree to a reasonable state, with a good trunk taper and a fine spread of branches,
you may think the job is done, not so I'm sorry to say. A Bonsai is never 'static', so you will need to
keep on pruning the branches to maintain its shape. Branches will in fact need to be redeveloped
every few years, this is no more than a really hard pruning. it will however make the tree
'unshowable' for a while.
With deciduous trees you should remember that to have a branch that looks good without leaves,
you will need to develop a fine structure, this can be achieved by pruning, wiring and leaf trimming
(if appropriate), however there are one or two things to bear in mind which will improve the looks of
your tree.

Mature trees do not have foliage growing in the crotch of the branch and trunk. This happens mainly
in conifers, but can be seen in elms and maples.




Remove any foliage that hangs down, as this hides the branch structure.




                                                   45
Repotting and Root pruning
Repotting is is another of those mysterious tricks that it will take you many minutes to master. It can
I will admit be a daunting prospect, the thought of ripping your (expensive ?) tree out of the pot,
hacking large bits off the roots and forcing back into it's pot, it's not like that at all and it will only
benifit the tree.
So why do we repot our trees, is it to keep them small ?. No! limiting their space in a pot and pruning
the top will achieve this, repotting is if anything carried out to increase the tree's vigour and maintain
it's health.
As the tree grows the roots extend, now, not all of the root is capable of absorbing the nutrients the
tree needs to grow, in fact this absorbtion mainly takes place in the tips of the roots. A fair analogy
would be if you tried to drink a carton of milk through a 10 Meter long straw. you would need to suck
hard to get any benifit. So does the tree!.
Just as pruning the top of the tree produces side buds, root pruning produces side roots, each
capable of feeding and watering the tree.
It is not essential that each tree is repotted every year, but you would be unwise to leave a vigourous
tree more than two years without a repotting.
Those of you who keep houseplants may wonder why you have never been advised to repot those
plants, this is I would suggest down to the fact that most suppliers of houseplants are not aware of
the benifits of repotting.

Repotting Time
The best time to repot most trees is in the Spring before the buds break open, however flowering
trees are different. Flowering trees fall into two categories when it comes to repotting time, those
that flower before the leaves open and those that flower after the leaves have opened, Apricot,
japanese quince and Plum fall into the first category, Apple, Cherry, Pear and of course the Azelea
family all fall into the latter.
The Pre-leaf flowerers should be repotted after flowering but before the leaves are open, while the
After-leaf flowerers should be repotted prior to leaf opening.

The actual mechanics of repotting are simple.
You will need as a basis.
A work area
enough potting compost to replace what you will remove.
Sharp cutters.
Enough small pieces of mesh (preferably Plastic)to cover the pots drainage holes.
And some suitable method of securing (tying) the tree into the pot, Bonsai wire is commonly used,
however copper wire is better, as it is less prone to break when twisted.
Place the tree on the work surface and ease it out of the pot, placing the pot to one side. If the tree
has a mass of roots curled around the pot tease them out so they radiate away from the trunk like
spokes on a wheel.




                             I use the hook to the left for teasing out the root ball when repotting. I'm
                             not sure of it's origins, but have been told it's for cleaning out horses
                             hooves.




                                                    46
47
Remove (cut away) about 33% of the total root mass
including the soil, removing some from the underside
of the tree. While doing this you should have a small
hand sprayer near to hand, to mist the roots with water,
stopping them from getting to dry, killing the root hairs




If the tree has an uneven root structure, with some roots
smaller than others, remove less root from the thinner
roots. Over time the root sizes will come into balance.




                                When repotting your tree, you should remember that you are trying
                                to get as much new root close to the tree as possible. One way of
                                achieving this is to remove 'V' shaped sections,between the major
                                roots, allowing space for new roots to develop. This has the added
                                benifit of removing old, compacted soil, close to the tree. ¨




This pot is now ready for the tree. It has the plasic hole covers in place and long wires ready to tie the
                                             tree into the pot.

Put a layer of compost in the bottom of the pot, to about 1/3 of the depth of the pot. Hold the tree
over the pot and push the tie wires up through the root mass and lower the tree into place.
Now twist the wires together until they hold the tree firm in the pot. Ensure the wires are positioned
so that they will not be visible when the remaining soil is placed. You might consider useing some
aquarists 'air line', threaded over the wire and positioned to protect the roots.
Now add extra soil and work the compost into any spaces in and around the root mass, chopsticks
are often used to work the soil in between the roots.
Water the tree with a fungicide added to the water and stand it in a sheltered spot for a few days.



When you place the soil after repotting, try to ensure
that it does not come up to the rim of the pot. Allow
somewhere for water to 'pool'. and seep into the


                                                   48
compost. This space will also allow somewhere for soil to go if you have used a hose with to fast a
jet.



Positioning the tree
in the pot

The Tree should be planted
at such a height in the pot as
to allow the roots as they
leave the trunk to be visible
above the pot.



A tree should be positioned in the pot so that the
trunk is neither the front, or back third of the pot
(the red areas). Nor should it be planted to far
away from the centre line.
If the first (lowest) branch leaves the tree in the
direction if the arrow then the tree will usually look
best if planted ofset from the centre line, in the
area of the green box.
This will not apply to round pots, where you should
always plant dead centre.

When repotting try to arrange the two trunks, of a
                                                            two trunk bonsai, so that the smaller is
                                                            positioned further back in the pot than
                                                            the larger. this adds an extra 'depth' to
                                                            the planting.
                                                            This is particularly important to
                                                            remember if the two trunks are similar in
                                                            size.




                                                   49
Creating a balance between the roots and foliage.




When you repot your tree, try to create a balance between the volume of root and the amount of
foliage present. This may mean reducing the foliage, but a tree that is 'out of balance' like the one in
the middle may find it difficult to survive.
Moss and other plants
                                       Having just repotted your tree, you will notice that the whole
                                       thing looks a little unnatural, all that fresh soil will not help the
                                       impression of an old tree, dressing the surface with moss will
                                       add to the impression of age.
                                       There are lots of plants that will, one way or another try to grow
                                       on the soil surface of your newly repotted bonsai. Of these only
                                       moss should be tolerated, and then only in reasonable amounts,
                                       no more than a third of the soil area should be covered. Moss
                                       while adding to the looks of the Bonsai will use any fertiliser
intended for the tree and acts as a waterproofing, making it difficult to water the tree.
Moss Is a bit of a two edged sword. On one hand it adds maturity to the planting, on the other acts as
a 'raincoat' when watering.




 This is about as much moss as you should allow around the base of a tree, more will act as a barrier,
                                stopping water getting into the soil.




                                                    50
Moss is easily transplanted and I usually recycle mine at repotting time, or collect new stock from
damp patches in the garden.
I do feel that you are going to find it difficult to get moss to thrive in an indoor environment,
however the best advice I can give is that you keep the soil constantly damp, make sure the moss is
firmly (and I mean it!) pressed into the compost. It's shape may be distorted while you do this, but it
will soon come back. I would also advise that you cover the surface of the pot with clear plastic for a
couple of weeks, providing a moist microclimate, that will help it settle.
As to reproduction, moss is a resiliant plant and can be propogated easily. I normally allow it to get
really dry then reduce it, by rubbing it to a powder in the palms of my hands. This powder is sprinkled
over the areas I want moss to grow and it soon flourishes.
It is not a good idea to allow moss to grow up, or on the tree trunk. This spoils the look of the root
flare. I use a plastic brush of the type sold for washing dishes, to scrub moss off the trunk and indeed
branches should they need it. Spraying the tree after scrubbing will wash away any residue and the
tree will look much better.
Liverwort is indicative of poor drainage, so with a good compost it should not be a problem.
If liverwort is present, either remove it with a small tool (knife, tweezers, screwdriver, anything!). Or
paint it with malt vinegar, which I feel has the added benifit of killing any spoors in the area. Bear in
mind that vinegar is acid, so don't overdo it.
Any other plants growing can be removed by hand, when big enough.


The Roots
As with a house your Bonsai needs a good foundation. Anything you can do to improve the vigour
and volume of you roots will be reflected in the visible part of the tree. A strong, healthy root
structure is generally a by-product of, feeding and Repotting/Root pruning together with a good
open compost.

The Roots, as they leave the trunk should be exposed. This gives the
impression of a powerful tree anchored into the ground, rather than a
stick poked into the ground. This root flare is called 'Nebari'.




                               As with the branches the roots should radiate away from the trunk like
                              the spokes of a wheel.


The root structure should ideally be close to the tree,
                that is to say it should have lots of fine
                roots close to the tree, not twisting
                 around the inside of the pot.




                                                    51
No root should cross another above surface level. any that do, should be removed.




Improving your bonsai's roots




Here we see a program to improve the roots on a bonsai. and get them closer to the trunk. (a) Is as
the tree was aquired, perhaps as nursery stock, or by collecting. (b) Shows the tree at first repot.
several of the major roots have been cut back and treated with hormone rooting powder,or gel. (c) Is
the tree at the end of the year, this may take longer if a conifer, so watch out!. (d) shows the
remaining roots cut, and treated, and (e) the final result, a good radial root structure, close to the
tree.
If you should find yourself with a tree with an absence of root close to the trunk, or perhaps only a
couple of large roots in poor positions, don't give up. If you read the section on layering you will see
that it is possible to induce new roots close to the trunk, and indeed on the trunk should the tree be
lacking in a particular area.

Perhaps you have an uneven root spread with one root much larger than the others this can be
brought more into balance by pruning the strong root harder than its rivals,when repotting. Over
time this will even out the roots.



                                              Over a few years the
                                              root at the front (a)
                                             has been pruned
                                             harder than the
                                               others, causing them
to                                             become more equal
in size




When either purchasing a tree for conversion, or collecting a tree
from the wild, you will find the tree will have a major root going

                                                  52
downward. This is called the taproot and must be removed for the tree to fit into a shallow bonsai
pot.
This process may need to be carried out over several repottings and can in the case of pines take
quite a while to achieve. However if you read the section on layering you will be able to induce new
roots above the place where you wish to cut the taproot.
You may, if you have removed a lot of root at one time, have to remove some of the foliage to
'balance' the tree.




Creating a balance between the roots and foliage.


When you repot your tree, try to create a
balance between the volume of root and
the amount of foliage present. This may
mean reducing the foliage, but a tree
that is 'out of balance' like the one in
the middle may find it difficult to
survive.




Saikei or Tray Landscapes




Saikei is so closely associated with Bonsai that it's difficult to define the differences, so let's try!.
Saikei generally use more than one tree, and may indeed use several species. Bonsai groups should
only ever use one species.
Trees used in Saikei are generally smaller and younger than their Bonsai counterparts although all of
the techniques used on a bonsai will be used on the trees in a saikei. It is not unusual for Saikei to
contain plants other than trees (grasses for example) to imitate other larger plants, nor is it unusual
to include small flowering plants (alpines for example).


                                                   53
Saikei may use figures (people, bridges, temples and such) a Bonsai should never be shown with such
an ornament (look if you really want to do that sort of thing take up Military modelling. I promise
you'll find it a rewarding pastime). A Bonsai is isolated from the landscape to show of its best
features, with Saikei the landscape is emphasised. Rocks are used as mountains in Saikei, with a
Bonsai a rock would be used in close association with the tree. See Styles(root on rock)
White sand is used to represent water, often flowing through the landscape.
Saikei pots tend to be large and shallow, perhaps the most unusual type of container the suiban is
used in Saikei.




This tray has a divider and one part of the pot has no holes. Unlike other Bonsai pots it is glazed on
the inside. The glazed part is filled with water to symbolize the sea or a lake.
Like bonsai, saikei can be planted on large flat rocks.




                                                   54
Bonsai Styles




                Broom Style         Multi Trunk Styles




                Cascade Style       Roots over Rock




                Formal Upright      Roots Exposed




                Group Plantings     Semi-cascade Style




                Informal Upright    Slanting Style




                Literati Style      Windswept Style


                                   55
Bonsai Styles, some pointers
The problem with providing a set of styles for folk who are new to the hobby is that it is easy to lead
them to believe that, if their tree doesn't conform to one of the styles, it's a bad bonsai, when it's
not!. Some of the most interesting trees I've seen, barely look like the common perception of trees,
let alone fall into one of the styles listed.
Many years ago I said to a friend of mine "The thing is Bob, all of your trees look like trees!". I don't
believe, at the time either of us understood what I meant by that, however we do now. It isn't
necessary for a bonsai to look like a tree. A bonsai can be an icon, a symbol used to evoke what we
all know a tree should look like, without following rigidly the shape of a tree. or fit into a style
pigeonhole.

Children simplistically draw trees as a green blob of foliage
with a trunk. Yet both adults and children understand and
translate that 'icon' into a tree.




                   A stylised tree, but instantly recognisable
                   as one.




The tree illustrated, for example (drawn from a photograph) has most of its major
components, growing on what may be described as a cascading branch. Does this
make the tree a bad bonsai?. Well I for one would swap my kids for it




Every tree should tell a 'story' and that story is reflected in the style when a tree is being developed
as a bonsai.
A lone seedling in the open may have grown up tall and straight (in the formal upright style). A tree
growing on a cliff top buffeted by wind may have all it's branches growing on the leeward side of the
trunk (Windswept Style). But the basic storyline should be of the tree's struggle to survive and the
beauty and power that the tree has acquired in that struggle.
When attempting to style a tree you will need to know a little about the growth characteristics of the
species you are using, as not all trees suit all styles. The Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo Biloba) for
example, makes a good bonsai but its growth habits are such that it will not respond well to wiring,
and it tends to be best trained in its natural shape, which resembles a candle flame.
Conifers don't grow in the broom style, and few, if any deciduous trees occur naturally in the formal
upright style.




                                                   56
Bonsai Styles: Broom Style




Broom Style is a style best suited to deciduous trees, particularly Elm's and Maples, both of which are
easy to develop into this manner. The tree may have either a number of branches radiating out from
the same level on the trunk, rather like a besom (witches) broom, or by allowing a large number of
branches to develop around the trunk.

Besom style

The style may be developed by allowing a seedling or cutting to grow on for a few years, then or
cutting or layering the top off. Ideally this should be at about 6" to 9". This will cause buds to break
out on the trunk, these buds will form the new branches.
The cut when removing the top of the tree should be in a 'V' shape as this will heal over better and
create less of a bulge when it does.

A Japanese maple at the start of its
development as a broom. The top of the
tree was layered off, a 'V' was cut into the
top to reduce swelling as the branches
develop. The wound was sealed with bonsai
'cut wound paste', but grafting wax, or paint
could be used instead.
The new shoots have sprouted and as they
reach a managable size, those that are in
the wrong place will be removed.



When developing a broom style
bonsai, cut the trunk back,
allowing a couple of the shoots
that develop to grow on. Prune
the tree back to a few (2 or 3)
leaf nodes and allow them to
grow on.



                                                    57
Repeating the process over a few years will give you a good Broom style Bonsai.

Candle style

A variation on the broom style where a large number of
branches are allowed to develop around the trunk. Unlike other
styles, as these branches are developed little attention is paid to
creating 'negative, or open areas between them.

                                             A Candle broom style




                                                A nice little Broom Maple, shown here in winter. It's at
                                                this time of year that you can appreciate the fine
                                                branch structure.




                       The real thing, with another in the background.




Bonsai Styles: Cascade Style




                                                   58
                                  The trunk of a cascade bonsai should come forward of the pot and
                                  slightly to one side. Cascades are always planted in deep pots to
                                  provide both visual and physical stability.
                                  The cascade, as with all bonsai styles should have a triangular
                                  shape, the tip of which should be below the trunk in the pot.The
                                  exception to this rule is if the cascade is also in the windswept
                                  style




Ideally a cascade should be developed from a large low branch, bending a
tree over and wiring it down will produce an unnatural looking tree.




Bonsai Styles: Formal Upright




The Formal Upright is perhaps the most difficult and yet most rewarding of the styles. It should have
a straight trunk with good taper.
The first branch should be at about 1/3 of the total height. The distance between the branches
should decrease as you get closer to the top of the tree.
To get reasonable trunk taper can be difficult. However by pruning the top back hard while allowing
the bottom branches to grow on you can over the space of a few years induce reasonable taper.
Formal Uprights tend to be conifers.




                                                 59
Bonsai Styles: Group Plantings




Creating a good group planting takes all your Bonsai skills. It would be wrong to assume that you can
pick any old trees and stick them together in a pot an have an acceptable group.
The trees must all be of the same species. This need not be the case if you are making a Saikei or
tray landscape.
The trees are best developed from cuttings or layerings, the logic of this is that all the trees are
genetically the same and will exhibit the same growth characteristics. This may not be true of seed,
even from the same source.
Try to vary the size/height of the trees. The idea of a group planting is to evoke the feeling of looking
into a forest, the taller trees should therefore be at the front and the most of the smaller trees at the
back, with perhaps a larger tree at the back, as a large tree (in the distance).
How many trees the group contains varies from three upward, four however both looks wrong and
apparently has bad symbolism in Japan.


Placing the trees

The trees should not be planted just
anywhere in the pot. The major
trees, Primary. Secondary, and
Tertiary need careful consideration.
Generally the biggest (Primary and
Secondary) should be planted in the
front half of the pot, the Tertiary tree
in the back, symbolising a large tree
in the distance. Any other trees
should be planted so that no trunk
hides another, when viewed from the
front.
Aim to have the lowest branch in the
composition on one of the smaller
trunks. This will add to the
impression of a larger tree in the
distance.
                                                                                                Top view




                                                   60
Bonsai Styles: Informal Upright




The Informal upright style is perhaps the easiest style to get right for the beginner. The trunk should
'flow' unlike the Formal Upright
A good way of developing the trunk on an informal upright is the 'Clip and grow' method, where a
tree is allowed to grow away, to thicken up. The tree is then cut back to a few inches, ideally above a
bud and then allowed to grow on again. The process is repeated several times, each time the cut is
made higher up. In a few years you will have a good trunk and can then set about forming the
branches.

The tree illustrated, for example (drawn from a photograph) has most of its
major components, growing on what may be described as a cascading
branch. This is as viable way of developing an Informal upright as the more
'Traditional' tree.




Nor do the branches need to start low down the trunk. the tree to the right would, in
bonsai circles be described as 'High hipped' and has all the attributed that a good
bonsai should have.




                                                  61
Bonsai Styles: Literati Style




The Literati were a group of ancient Chinese scholars, their philosophy was
one of simplicity. Nowdays they might be called 'minimalists'. In their art
they would use as few brushstrokes as possible to convey the form of a tree,
that tree generally had a long flowing trunk.




                                   Choosing a pot for a literati can be difficult, you will need to bear
                                   in mind the top of the tree may not be over the pot and this may
                                   cause it to topple over, select a good sized pot, or tie it down.
                                   Choose a pot that the top of the tree, were it a seperate tree
                                   would look good in.




                                      A literati Blue Atlas Cedar.




Literati tend to be conifers.
The tree will need to be tied into the pot when repotted.




                                                  62
Bonsai Styles: Multi-trunked Styles




There are many variations on the multi-trunk theme. The illustration shows a twin trunk tree, this is
perhaps the most common type.

                                                         Try to arrange the two trunks, of a two trunk
                                                         bonsai, so that the smaller is positioned further
                                                         back in the pot than the larger. this adds an
                                                         extra 'depth' to the planting.
                                                         This is particularly important to remember if
                                                         the two trunks are similar in size.
                                                         The ideal time to correct this, if you have such
                                                         a problem is at repotting time.




                                                         The trunks of a multitrunk bonsai should
                                                         diverge as close to the roots as possible.
                                                         If you have a tree that splits high up, consider
                                                         planting it in a deep pot, or the ground and
                                                         inducing new roots closer to the split using the
                                                         techniques outlined in layering



                                                         Ideally                                    the
angle between the two trunks should not be to great, as this
tends to look unnatural. If you have such a tree think about
turning it into a raft style by lowering the smaller branch to
the soil level.




                                                    63
The 'Clump' style occurs where the original main trunk has
dissapeared and a number of suckers have matured.




Another variation is the 'Raft' style where either a low branch has touched the
ground and rooted, or a large tree has fallen over and roots have developed
where the trunk is in contact with the ground. The branches pointing
upward have grown into larger trees, all connected by the original
trunk.




Raft style trees are often developed from stock that has all of it's branches on one side. These trees
would never make an acceptable sungle trunked bonsai, however with a little imagination and
patience you can end up with a really nice tree. To develop a raft style tree you will need a long and
fairly deep container. remove the tree from whatever container it's in. Strips of bark should be
removed along the bottom of the new tree. these cuts should be dusted with hormone rooting
powder to promote the growth of new roots.
Having half filled the container with compost the tree is placed into it and secured with ties. The box
is then filled with compost and then watered.




If you have a tree with very few branches on one side, an option would be to lay it in it's side and
create a raft style tree.




                                                   64
Bonsai Styles: Roots over rock




                              A 'Deshojo' Japanese maple

There is no quick way to produce a root over rock bonsai. I would advise that if you
want a tree in this style, cutting's are your best method.

In the first year plant your cutting in a deep container to allow the roots to get long
enough to be wrapped around the rock.




                             Year two and you can place the young tree over the rock.
                             Before doing so a little preperation work is called for. Mix a paste of clay
                             and peat and smear it over the rock in the places where you want the
                             roots to be, taking care to position the roots around the rock, not just to
                             one side. Cover the roots with more of the paste, and wrap the rock in a
                             string, of a type that will rot away over time, and not damage the roots.
                             Sisal string is ideal for this.
                             To achieve the maximum thickening of the roots as soon as possible,
                             plant the tree in the ground and water it in well, or plant it in the biggest
                             container available.



While in the ground, begin to develop the trunk and branch structure. The
ideal way to do this is using the 'clip and grow' method,




                                                                             Allow the tree a few years to thicken, then




                               Allow the tree a few years to thicken, then pot up an start to style the
                                 top.


                                                   65
Roots Exposed




This is not as such a 'Style', as it can be applied to all styles, with the exceptions of Formal Upright
and 'Broom'.
To create both visual and physical balance root exposed trees should be planted in larger pots than
normal.

Bonsai Styles: Semi-cascade




So what are the differences between a 'Semi' and a 'full' cascade. I'd suggest that they lay in the
angle of the major trunk, below the horizontal. A Semi-cascade will have an angle no greater than
45ş.
The Tree illustrated above is a representation of one of my San-Jose junipers, converted from nursery
stock. When I purchased the tree, It had a major branch, almost horizontal to the ground and it soon
became apparent that there was not a lot to be done with it, other than remove it, or turn it into a
jin. This left me with a branch which I've been developing over the past few years.
Semi cascade trees need to be planted in deep pots for stability.

Bonsai Styles: Slanting




The major differences between Informal Upright and a Slanting styles are that a slanting tree will
usually have a straighter trunk than an informal tree and that trunk will have an angle of about 45ş.
They will always be planted well 'off center' in the pot.



                                                   66
Bonsai Styles: Windswept Style




The 'story' that a windswept tree tells is that of a tree on a mountain or cliff, the tree has been
buffeted by strong winds and only those branches on the leaward (downwind) side have survived.
                                           The trunk should always be at an angle, never upright and
                                           may indeed cascade
                                           .

                                        The branches on a windswept tree must all be on the same
                                        side




Suitable Trees




While almost any woody plant (tree or shrub) can be used to create a Bonsai, the prime
consideration when selecting a tree, should be the leaf size with deciduous and most conifers, or the
length of the needle when selecting Pine species.
Part of the charm of a bonsai is the 'capturing' of the elements of a large tree, to have a small tree
with large leaves would defeat the object of the exercise. Always select a species that is capable of
having its leaves reduced to an appropriate size.
It is easy to reduce the leaf size on deciduous trees by leaf trimming, this is of course not possible
with pines and other conifers.

                                                  67
You can use trees with large compound leaves without much reduction, Ash, Rowan and Walnut are
examples of trees with this type of leaf.




           Illustrated are a 'simple leaf' from a beech and a 'compound leaf' from a rowan.

All of the species mentioned in this section of the 'Primer', come from parts of the globe subject to
'hard' winters. Under no circumstances should they be kept in a heated, or artificially lit environment
over winter.

Some Genus provide what may be called 'Classic' Bonsai. Those are, Junipers, Maples and Pines.
There are however many other genus with suitable species, among which are: Birch, Beech, Elm,
Ginkgo, Hornbeam, Cedar and Yew. Larch also makes a good bonsai, but has a tendency to shed
branches for no apparent reason.
For flowering Bonsai, Apple, Cherry, Cotoneaster,Pyracantha, Japanese Quince and Azalea are best.
Always consider native (to you) species and just because a tree is not mentioned in this list you
should not assume it will not make a good bonsai.

The list below reflects what I believe to be good, and easily obtainable, trees for the beginner.
Offering as wide a range as possible. I would not normally recommend Pines to a beginner as their
pruning requirements are, somewhat specialised. However they are a popular tree and are often
purchased as a first bonsai.

                               Beech                  Larch
                               Cedar                  Maple
                               Cherry                 Juniper
                               Cypress                Pine
                               Elm                    Redwoods
                               Ginkgo                 Rhododendrons
                               Hawthorn               Yew
                               Hornbeam

Suitable species for keeping Indoors
It is an almost impossible task for me to give a list of suitable trees to be kept indoors, indeed if you
read the section of the 'Primer' on indoor bonsai you will see that all trees should be placed outside
whenever weather conditions allow.
Wether a species needs to be kept indoors, depends on two factors, firstly, where the species
originated, secondly, where you live.




                                                    68
If the species originated in the
tropics and you live outside of the
tropics, the tree will need
protection, but may be kept
outdoors in the summer.
If you live in the tropics and the
tree originated there, the only
constraint on keeping the tree
indooors would be the amount of
light available, matched to the
needs of the plant, for example, if
you are growing a tree that survives
in dense rainforest, it will have
evolved to cope with low light
situations.
If you live in the tropics and wish to
keep trees native to the
'Temporate' areas of the world, 'temporate' being those areas outside of the tropics and the arctics,
then you have a problem. These trees will have evolved to 'hibernate' in the winter, keeping them in
an location where they cannot do this will almost certainly prove to be fatal for them.

Unsuitable trees
                                                            Lets look at what makes a tree unsuitable
                                                            for training as a bonsai.
                                                            I would suggest that the prime factor is
                                                            the 'natural' size of the leaf. The picture
                                                            to the left shows a horse chesnut tree,
                                                            the foliage has just opened and is about
                                                            half the size it will reach when mature.
                                                            No amount of leaf trimming, or
                                                            ramification will get trees with leaves
                                                            like this down to an acceptable size for a
                                                            Bonsai.




Suitable Trees: Beech




Beech make excellent Bonsai, there are types of Beech spread throughout the world's temporate
zones.
They tend to be grown in Informal Styles, and leaf trimming every other year will reduce the size of
leaves on the larger types. It is important that leaf trimming is carried out as early as possible, as
beech may not come back into leaf that year if it is left to late.


                                                  69
The Southern Beechs (Nothofagus SP) are closly related to beeches from the Northern hemispere,
differing in that they have both deciduous, and evergreen species. From a bonsai viewpoint the can
be treated as their Northern counterparts, except that you should not leaftrim the evergreen species.
They have no special needs but tend to do better in a alkaline (lime) soil rather than a peat based
compost.

This was my first collected tree, and I've had it for about twenty
years. Like so many trees, I was unsure what to do with it at first,
tending to leave it and see what developed.
It's still a bit of a 'stick', having little taper to the trunk, however
pruning the top while allowing the lower branches to grow on, is
having a benificial effect on it.
The tree is shown in winter, and in common with all immature
beech, it retains the dead leaves over winter.
All except Formal upright and Literati, which should always be
conifers




Suitable Trees: Cedar

A Cedar of Lebanon and Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria)


There are throughout the world many species termed
'Cedar'. This section of the primer will concentrate on
the three species belonging to the genus Cedrus,
Cedrus Atlantica, Deodar, and Lebani, all native to the
middle east.
Probably the first thing that springs to my mind about
cedars is that they have, when in a pot, quite weak root
systems. The roots themselves being rather fleshy, are prone to damage by frost, so the trees must
be sheltered when conditions demand it.
As with all conifers they will do better in a more open, grittier soil than their deciduous counteparts.
All upright styles except Broom



Suitable Trees: The Cherry Family
The Cherry is a member of one of the largest family of plants on
the planet, the ‘Rosacea’, yes they are related to Roses (Those
horrible plants that flower for two days and then drop petals all
over the garden). The Rose family is really diverse, with the
Cherry family at one end, apples and pears, then Quinces,
Cotoneasters, through the Raspberry/Blackberry group, past
Roses themselves and on to Strawberries.
The Cherry family itself includes Apricots, Peaches, Plums
Damsons and Gages, all of which will make good Bonsai. The
Apricot or ‘Mume’, as its called in Japan is the earliest flowering
of the group, here in the UK I’ve seen them in flower in late
January.

                                                      70
The Cherry family propagates easily from seed, sown in
the autumn. The seeds need a cold winter to germinate.
They will take from cuttings but can prove difficult. Plants
grown from seed, or cutting can take ten to fifteen years
to flower.
They have no particular needs, as far as their cultivation is
concerned.
Pruning should be carried out in mid summer, allowing
time for next year’s flower buds to develop.
Allowing them to set fruit may stress the tree beyond its
ability to survive.1

  Cherry bonsai are often seen as stumps, as like most flowering trees they tend to be difficult to train
                                                                                    in a 'normal' style.
All except Broom and Formal upright, However you should remember that as with all flowering
bonsai, you cannot really get them to conform to a ‘tree’ shape.

Suitable Trees: Cypress




                                            The Leyland Cypress
The Cypress family contains a large number of species and cultivars of those species. Probably the
most famous, or infamous depending on your point of view is the Leyland Cypress.
As with all conifers they will do better in a more open, grittier soil than their deciduous counteparts.
All upright styles except Broom

Suitable Trees: Elms and Zelcova




                                                    71
The Elm family are a group of trees that will forgive you almost anything, will grow in a range of soils
and are easy to obtain, with species native to most of the Northern hemispere.
Zelcova and Chinese Elm are the two species you are likely to come across on a suppliers benches,
both excellent trees although the Chinese Elm is I feel not as hardy when there is frost about, but try
what grows in your area as all Elms are capable of making good bonsai.
The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Is a very easy tree to grow. Deciduous in temporate areas, it may
retain its leaves in tropical and sub tropical regions. The Chinese elm is often wrongly sold as an
indoor tree here in Europe and probably elseware.
I get a lot of email about Chinese Elm shedding its leaves. There are a number of reasons why the
tree may be shedding its leaves, the most obvious of which is that, as an Elm it's a deciduous tree and
SHOULD shed its leaves overwinter (mine do!).
They are easy to propogate. The seed germinates readily should you wish to try growing them this
way, however cuttings and layering are the best methods to increase your stock.
Elm's respond well to leaftrimming, and on a vigourous tree this may be carried out twice in one
season, but not every year.

Suitable Styles
Almost any informal style suits the Elm, try to avoid formal upright (they just don't look right).
Broom is one of the most attractive styles to grow an elm in, as to a large extent it echos the
way they grow in the wild.

Suitable Trees: Ginkgo

                                      Ginkgo Biloba (a.k.a the Maidenhair tree), together with Larch,
                                      Swamp Cypress and Dawn Redwood is a conifer that sheds its
                                      leaves over winter. Until the 1940's it was known only from
                                      fossilised leaves and assumed to be extinct, however living
                                      specimins were discovered in China. The tree is sexual, that is to
                                      say a tree is either male or femail.
                                      It makes a good Bonsai, but due to it's growth patterns tends to
                                      be difficult to style, and hence should be allowed to take on its
                                      own shape. This tends to be that of the flame of a candle. The tree
                                      does not like to be wired and any changes are best made by
pruning to a bud pointing in the desired direction.
It can in all other respects be treated as any other bonsai, having no unusual needs as far as feeding
or watering. It will however need winter protection as it has very soft roots.
In the UK Ginkgo are generally available as trained bonsai, or garden trees, however they take readily
from hardwood cuttings, and as a mature garden tree often produce suckers, which when removed
with some root will take quickly. The female plant produces seed, these are born as a sort of
grey/green berry, and will if chilled over winter germinate over the next few years, assuming there is
a male tree nearby.
The soft, new foliage of the Ginkgo can be pruned by either
pinching out, or with tools. Cuts made into old wood however,
will take a long time to heal over.




This Ginkgo is in my collection and has a recorded history of
about 120 years.

Suits only informal upright styles


                                                   72
Suitable Trees: Hawthorn




Hawthorn make great bonsai, having naturally small leaves. Given
the right conditions they will grow rapidly and with a good
pruning regiem will soon develop a fine branch structure.
- The Hawthorn, or May (Crataegus monogyna) can be grown from
Seed or cuttings, however the seeds are slow to germinate.
They are not particilarly fussy about soil types. but are 'thirsty'
trees and failure to keep them properly watered will soon show in
damage to the leaves.
In the ground they Will grow to 10 - 15m and live for about 250
years.
Distribution is lowland Europe. The Red varieties come from the
Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacanthoides)
All except Formal upright



Suitable Trees: Hornbeam




             The Hornbeams (Carpinus) make great Bonsai

All except Broom and Formal upright




                                                 73
Suitable Trees: Larch
Larch are one of the unusual group of 'decidious' conifers. There are two species of larch you may
come across, either as a trained bonsai, or Garden center stock, they are the European and Japanese
larches, difficult to tell apart, however the Japanese veriety has a redder tinge to the buds when
opening .You may, if you live in areas where they grow wild be able to collect them. this will of
course need the site owners permission.
Larch make good bonsai, however they have a tendancy to shed, sometimes important branches.
This is almost certainly due to a lack of light. Larch when in leaf demand as much sunlight as possible.
Some 50 or so years ago experiments were carried out here in the UK, placing larch saplings in light
shade, they failed to thrive compared with their siblings given more light.
Culturally they can be treated in the same way as any other bonsai, allowing for the need to ensure
they get enough water to cope with their need for full sun placement.
In autumn, just before leaf fall, the needles turn a wonderful yellow.
All except Broom

Suitable Trees: Maples




Of the deciduous species which make good bonsai Maples (Acer Sp) (it means shining) are the stars.
They are hardy, easy to train an care for and stunning to look at even when not in leaf.
There are two maple species commercially used, Acer Buergeranium (Trident maple) and Acer
Palmatum (Japanese Maple ). The Japanese maple has several cultivars some of which have
beautiful,(there's no other word which fits the bill) spring foliage.
Maples respond well to leaf trimming and this helps to create a fine branch structure.

Propagation
All Maples are easy to root from cuttings, or indeed layerings. The roots of red leafed
Maples are however weak and the tree will die if the roots have the slightest
problem, that's why most red leafed Maples are grafted onto 'normal' rootstocks.
Hormone rooting powders/gels will speed up the process, but are not essential and
a softwood cutting, in a good gritty compost, will root in two to three weeks if
taken in early summer.
Layerings depend upon the thickness of the wood, but generally can be
sperated (depending on the root volume) in a couple of months,
remembering to remove enough of the top of the tree to bring it into
balance.
The roots of younger trees are more susceptible to frost in their first
couple of years and will need winter protection, a garage or greenhouse will

                                                  74
do although I dig my pots into the ground over winter and that seems to work.
                                                               A 'Deshojo' Japanese maple, in spring colour
Placement
The Spring foliage of maples is likely to suffer if the tree is placed in a windy location. The tips of the
opening leaves are prone to dry out.
Summer also has it's problems. Maples should not be placed in full sun all day, morning sun is best
but the hot afternoon sun will put the tree and your ability to water it adequately, to the test.




                                         Acer Campestre the field maple. (Autumn)




Watch out for
The Red leafed cultivars of the Japanese maple (Acer Palmatum),
are usually grafted onto normal (green leafed) rootstock, as they
don't do well on their own roots. If you are buying a tree from a
garden centre to convert into a bonsai, take a good look at the
condition of the graft when purchasing the tree.
In The UK we have two 'native' maples, the Field Maple Acer
Campestre and the Sycamore Acer Psudoplatanus, the Field
Maple makes a very good bonsai, having small leaves and good
colour, the Sycamore does not!.

Even young Maples will flower and while they can look attractive, any attempt to flower and fruit will
                                                    stress the tree, you're better off removing them.




  In case you thought I was joking about the illustration at the top of the page, I thought I'd include
                                                  this.

All except Formal upright and Literati




                                                    75
Suitable Trees: Junipers




Junipers are probably the easiest of the genus for the beginner. All of the species will make good
bonsai, but particularly Chinensis (illustrated) Pfitzerania and its sub species, and for a somewhat
'spikier' tree Squamata.

Many Junipers produce two types of foliage, the normal adult foliage, which is close and compact
and the juvenile or 'oxycedrus' growth. Both types can occur on the same tree, indeed on the same
branch. Juvenile foliage is often seen as a result of hard pruning. or heavy feeding and will soon
dissapear.
They will benifit from a grittier compost than you might otherwise use.

Pruning is carried out throughout the growing season, with the
foliage 'plucked' off, rather than cut, as this will cause any
damage to the needles, and spoil the looks of the tree. Conifer
tips should be plucked out between the ball of the thumb and
the first finger, not pinched off.

Placement
All junipers benifit from as much sunlight as you can give
them, providing they are well watered. Sunlight gives them a
better colour and keeps the foliage compact.

All except Broom and Formal upright




Suitable Trees: Pines




Pines make wonderful bonsai, however they are not the ideal 'first tree'. There are skills you will
need to aquire to cope with their growing patterns.
This is more fully covered in the section on pruning Pines.

                                                   76
There are many different species of pine around the world, not all of which will make a good bonsai.
Stick to those species with shorter needles as reducing their length is difficult, and cutting the
needles to shorten them will spoil them.

A Good Pine bonsai, with well structured branches and foliage pads. It's a pity it's
only a drawing. However trees of this quality are available from suppliers, or can
with some time and effort, be developed.
Conifers are best suited to deep, 'Earth' coloured pots.

When repotting pines you should notice a pale cotton wool like growth
surrounding the root mass, this is a fungus called Mycorrhiza. This is a sign of a
healthy tree and you should not worry about it, indeed you should re-introduce
some back into the compost.

All except Broom

Suitable Trees: Redwoods

Their are three distinct species, two of which hold a record. The Coast Redwood (Sequoia
sempervirens), holds the record for the tallest tree in the world, at about 112m (360+ feet). The
foliage resembles that of the Yew having flat needles.
The Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), a.k.a the Wellingtonia, after the Duke of Wellington,
has more Juniper like foliage, holds the record of being the largest living thing on the planet.
The Third of the redwoods, the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostrobides), also has flat needle
like foliage.
All three will make excellent bonsai their cultral and training needs are identical, needing an open
loamy soil, perhaps a bit less grit in the compost.




                               The Coast Redwood and The Wellingtonia

All upright styles except Broom




                                                   77
Suitable Trees: Rhodedendron
Rhodedendrons belong to the same family of plants as the heathers (Erica and Calluna) and the
southern heathers (daboeca). Untill recently a lot of plants in this family were called 'Azeleas'.
They are termed 'calciphobes', meaning they cannot tolerate Lime in their soil. Here in the UK most
garden centers stock 'Ericacious' compost and they should be grown in this. If this is unobtainable
where you are the a compost high in natural peat, or leafmold can be used.
Most calciphobes will benifit from an occasional watering with 'seqestered iron', usually available in
garden stores.
Rhodedendrons are particularly delecate after repotting. They have a very fine surface roots, which
are, if not kept moist during and after repotting, liable to die. This can be cured by constant spraying,
during repotting, then covering the surface of the pot with a 'mulch' to keep the moisture in. Florists
moss is often used in this case.




                                                   This recently repotted Rhodedendron has been given
                                                   a mulch of florists moss, to protect the delicate
                                                   surface roots.

All upright styles except Formal and Broom.

Suitable Trees: Yews
                               The Yews (Taxus), and their close relatives the Chinese, or Plum Yews
                               (Cephalotaxus) can be treated as the same tree for bonsai purposes.
                               Yews are a little 'suspect' in frosts. On repotting you will see they have
                               a mass of fleshy roots, these are prone to damage when frozen in a
                               pot. They need protection in severe weather.
                               There are over 100 cultivars of the European Yew (Taxus Baccata),
                               some having bright yellow foliage, some growing in a columnar
                               fashion. My advice is to stick with the 'natural' tree. The others will,
                               after a time begin to get on your nerves. They either are difficult to
                               train, or in the case of the colour verieties look weird.
                               They are a 'thirsty' tree and are best potted in a container that is a bit
                               larger than you would use on other trees, allowing more compost and
                               hence water.
By the way all parts of the yew are poisonous, not to the touch, but if swallowed. If you have
children, dispose of any prunings carefully.
The seeds are borne in a fleshy red fruit (poisonous) and although they will, if fertile, germinate, they
are best propogated from cuttings. Layerings will work using the tournequet methods but may take a
year or so to take.

Yew are one of the few Conifers that will readily produce buds on
old wood. This can be great if you want to restyle a tree.




                                                   78
All styles suit the Yew. Indeed it's probably the only conifer to suit the broom style.


Tools
It is quite easy to spend more of your hard earned cash on tools than getting the trees
themselves.You can get by with just a few commonly available tools, these are:
Saw (Small fine toothed)
Scissors (Two pair one small for leaf trimming)
Secaturs
Wire cutters
As I say these are the very basic tools you can get by with. As you become aware of all the tools
available, either by visiting suppliers or by mail order, your wallet, purse or sporran will begin to
twitch, Please don't buy a tool if you don't need it. If you are developing trees from either nursery
stock or wild collected material, your needs as far as tools will differ from someone who is
maintaining a mature Bonsai.
The first tools I would recommend you to buy are 'wen' or parrot beak cutters, these make a concave
cut and this will heal better than a straight cut made by secaturs.




      The smaller of my wen cutters, these are about 18cm (that's 7" in old money) nose to tail

The next tool on your shopping list would be branch cutters, these are ideal for working in tight
spaces.
As you become more aware of the potential to use tools to achieve a desired effect, increase your
tool collection, but only if you are sure you need the tool and will use it again. If however you join a
club they may have a store of the less usual tools for you to borrow, or members who will lend you
the tool you need, perhaps showing you the best way to use it at the same time.
I have used a blowtorch to char the inside of my big willow when I hollowed out the trunk, and have
seen chainsaws used to create a similar effect.


Watering your Bonsai
By far the most e-mail I get concerns watering. There are may instances where someone has
purchased a Bonsai from a non specialist supplier, and been told to "water it every few days", this is
wrong. You must use your judgement to ensure the tree gets enough water for its needs and if this
means watering it two or three times a day at the height of summer, or indeed not watering it for a
month or so during the winter, then do so.
Of the things your bonsai need to survive, water is going to prove to be the most difficult to provide
in the right quantities at the right times. Too little water and your tree will shed leaves or needles,
then branches in an effort to stay alive. Too much, particularly in a poor draining compost and the
roots will rot away.
Ideally the soil should be moist at all times and be moist all the way through. Splashing a drop of
water onto dry soil, in the mistaken belief that it will soak in does not work. You must water the tree
long enough to ensure the soil is soaked through. However, occasionally it is beneficial to allow the


                                                   79
soil to become dryer than you might think it should, allowing this to happen lets fresh air into the
root mass.




As the root mass begins to fill the available space,
the whole rootball becomes compact. When this
dries out shrinkage occurs, pulling the roots and
soil away from the pot. Although as I've stated
above, some air must be allowed to get to the
roots, this particular situation is dangerous, as the
root hairs will soon be killed. While this probably
will do no long term harm if caught in time, It will
'check' the tree and may, in extreme cases cause
leaf shedding.
The illustration to the right shows a compacted
root mass, in need of repotting.




When watering any tree, but particularly one that has dried out, you
must ensure that it is thoroughly watered. The illustration to the right
shows a tree where the root mass has shrunk back from the pot and a
light watering will flow into the space opened up and out through the
drainage holes. This gives the impression that the tree is well watered,
but has no real long term benefit.
If your tree has dried out to this extent, your best course of action is to
stand it in a bowl of water, until it is thoroughly soaked, say a couple of
hours, then rest the tree in the shade for a day or so.




                                          If you allow to much moss to grow on the soil, you will find
                                          that it will act like a raincoat, stopping the water getting
                                          through to the soil and allowing the water to run off over
                                          the edge of the pot.

You should try to have a large container full of rainwater, filling your watering can from this, as most
tap water now has chemicals added.
Your can should have as fine a rose as you can get to avoid washing the soil away.



Over watering
Under no circumstances should you stand your trees in a bowl of water for more than a few hours.
Prelonged immersion in water may kill the roots and of course the tree.




                                                    80
Nor should you water a tree that doesn't need it. More bonsai are killed by this than any other cause,
watering the tree every day while the compost is still wet, will cause root rot and the death of the
tree. Only water the tree when it needs it!.




                                                 81
Liverwort
If you must submerge your pot in water, watch out for Liverwort, as the spoors are distributed in
water. Liverwort is a small flat plant related to mosses. This
plant is indicative of poor drainage.
The plant reproduces in two ways. Firstly it has a small
umbrella like flower (?) that produces spoors (Like a
mushroom), pick these off as soon as you see them.
Secondly on the flat plates that make up the plant you will
see cups, each of which contains spoors that, if submerged
are released into the water and then onto the next tree you
put into that water. Dabbing the liverwort with malt vinegar
will kill it and any spoors in the area, however you should
bear in mind that vinegar is acidic, so don't overdo it.

                                                                     A Liverwort, showing the 'cups'

If you use a hosepipe you must have as fine a nozzel as you can get and bear in mind that you should
not aim the hose directly at the soil, It will wash out of the pot.
Try not to get water on the leaves while they are in full sun. Some people think this recommendation
is because the droplets may act as a lens and cause burning on the leaves. This is not the case. If you
live in a 'Hard' water area, as I do, you will find that rapid drying out of droplets causes chalky
deposits to be left on the leaves and they are a sod to remove.

Trees in shallower pots will dry out quicker and you may consider placing them in a less sunny
location.

Watering systems
On the whole automatic watering systems are an evil. (all right I admit it I've got one )With a lot of
trees to water and not much time to dedicate to each, I find it a good idea for those trees still being
developed. But please don't become to reliant on this, as the needs of each tree and the depth of the
pot it's in affect the amount of water it will need.

Holiday Watering
This can prove to be a problem, even if you do have an automatic system, you should still try to get a
friend, or neighbour to check it's functioning OK. If you haven't got an automatic system try to come
to an arrangement with someone you trust and have them water your trees, perhaps in return for
some favour you could do for them while they're away.
If you only have a couple of trees there is an alternative.
Stand the trees in the bath (with the plug out of course), on piece of old cloth, or capillary matting
(available from garden centres). Leave the tap dripping in the matting, this should supply enough
moisture for their needs while you're away. I've used this method and provided you push the pots
well into the material they'll be OK for a couple of weeks.




                                                  82
Wiring
Wiring is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the techniques used in bonsai. It drives little old
lady's POTTY (sorry mum!) to think of those poor little trees encased in that nasty wire. If they knew
that wiring was only used temporarily, to hold the branches in a desired position, to add to the
impression of age, and add to the artistic effect, they'd still go POTTY (there's no pleasing some
folk!). Wire is only left on as long as it takes for the tree to set in the desired position

It is pointless, and dangerous to wire an
unhealthy tree. The way that wiring works is
that, in bending the wood, you stress, and
sometimes damage the cells. The tree while
repairing the damage grows into the shape
imposed on it by the wire. So if you wire a tree
that is not in full vigour, it is unable to
complete the repair, perhaps loseing the
branch, or dying in the process.
The Wire is wrapped around the item being
shaped (Branch or Trunk), which is then bent
into the desired position.

Wire is only left on the tree as long as it takes for the shape to set. which may be a few weeks in the
case of new foliage, or a year if larger material.
Wire is usually applied in mid to late summer, as the tree is in active growth, and will set into shape
much quicker. Conifers may be left in wire over winter. Care must be taken to ensure that as the tree
grows, the wire does not bite into it causing scarring.
It is best to cut the wire from the tree when it has done it's job, trying to unwind it to use it again
may cause damage.
The wire should be applied at an angle of about 45ş to the item being wired, having the coils furthur
apart makes the wire less effevtive.




                                            Try to keep the coils reasonably close together, not doing
                                            so reduces the strength of the wire.




It is not advisable to try to alter the
angle where the branch meets the
trunk, this will almost certainly cause
the branch to break off. If you do need
to lower the branch, start at a point
further out.

                                                   83
If you try to start the bend close to the trunk (a), you may break the branch off. Starting the bend at
(b) is much safer, and more natural, as it is only as the branch develops, the weight of the foliage will
start to drag the branch downward.




When wiring branches with foliage (both deciduous and coniferous), avoid trapping the foliage under
the wire as shown on the left. this will damage the leaves and provide a gateway for infection. The
picture on the right shows how it should be done to both coniferous and deciduous foliage.

Wire
Wire obtained from specialist (Bonsai) suppliers is Aluminum, and is available in two types, Plain
(Silver), and 'Anodised', where the wire is given a brown coating. Which one you choose is up to you,
the anodised is less visually obvious, however the plain is more noticeable when you are watching to
see if the wire is biting into a developing branch.
If you do not have access to bonsai wire use any wire that is capable of being bent without to much
effort, then removed easily.
Bonsai wire is available in different sizes from 1.5mm to 6mm, and selecting the correct size for the
job is not an easy task for most people.




                                    A selection of bonsai wire, both anodised and plain


                                    To get a feel for the size of wire needed, try bending the wood
                                    (branch or trunk), and get some idea of the effort involved, then
                                    try and apply the same effort to the wire you wish to use. If there
                                    is to much 'give' in the wire the you need a thicker wire or to
                                    'double wrap' it.
                                    If you do not have wire of sufficient strength for the job you wish
                                    to do, 'double wrap' the wire, apply two pieces of wire parallel,
                                    this should overcome the problem.




                                                   84
If you do not have a strong enough wire for the material you wish
to bend, try using two thinner wires wrapped in parallel.




                                                 85
Other methods for lowering branches are:

Tying the branch down, either with string or
wire.




     This branch has been tied down to a Jin with
          wire, the wire was twisted to tension it.




Hanging weights on a branch will also cause it to hang down.
Both of the above methods, while effective will take longer to achieve your aim than wiring will.


                                               Clamps designed specifically to bend branches, or trunks
                                               are available from specialist bonsai suppliers.




Winter Protection
                                     "Winter has me in its grip
                                    Think I'll take a summer trip
                                      On a sunny sailing ship
                                   Where the shells lie in the sand"
                                     Winter has me in it's grip
                                             Don Mclean

Winter causes more worry to the bonsai enthusiast than any other thing I know. Those of us who
have species that originate in the temporate zones of our planet, will if new to the art begin to get
concerned as Autumn appears, however with a few precautions winter need hold no fear.
As I've said in other parts of the Primer the last thing you should do, is to bring a temporate species
into a heated, and lit environment, over winter "because they're so delicate!". They're not!.
Let's look at why a tree will die over winter, off hand I can think of two reasons, both involving water.
Firstly if you have a poorly drained compost this may cause the roots to rot away. Secondly, and
perhaps more commonly, freezing conditions. Throughout the year, wind causes water to evaporate
away from your trees, in the same way that your washing dries in the line, if kept outdoors this water
can be replaced if the compost is wet, however if the compost is frozen solid, water removed from
the tree cannot be replaced and the tree is "freeze dried". Trees in the ground have root systems
that go below the frozen soil, so do not suffer in the same way.
In Autumn, sugars are withdrawn from the leaves of deciduous trees, to be stored in the roots and
trunk. This sugar acts as an antifreeze, protecting deciduous trees over winter, however conifers are


                                                   86
at greater risk than deciduous trees, because they retain their foliage, giving a greater surface area
for water to evaporate from, while not producing as much sugar as in the growing season.
So what can you do to protect your trees in the
worst conditions?. Try to get them into shelter,
this can be an unheated glasshouse, garage or
other outhouse. If you don't have one and your
trees are not to large, put them in a plastic bag,
and leave them in a sheltered place outside,
removing them from the bags as soon as the
freezing spell is over. Remember it's the wind
that kills them, not the cold.




                                A few days of snow will not harm your trees, if sheltered from the wind.

Inspect your trees regularly, they can still dry out, and die if neglected.
They can be kept in total darkness while dormant.




                                                    87
Obsah
Introduction............................................................................................................................................. 2
   Bonsai .................................................................................................................................................. 2
   The elements of a bonsai .................................................................................................................... 3
Age ........................................................................................................................................................... 4
What are Bonsai ? ................................................................................................................................... 5
Bonsai Sizes ............................................................................................................................................. 6
   Shohin Bonsai ...................................................................................................................................... 6
Branches .................................................................................................................................................. 7
   Branches - Developing ......................................................................................................................... 7
   Pruning Pines ....................................................................................................................................... 8
   Branches - Placement ........................................................................................................................ 10
   Removing Branches ........................................................................................................................... 11
   Branches - Refining ............................................................................................................................ 12
Composts ............................................................................................................................................... 13
Creating a Bonsai ................................................................................................................................... 14
   Creating a Bonsai from Seed ............................................................................................................. 14
   Creating a Bonsai from cuttings ........................................................................................................ 15
       Hardwood cuttings ........................................................................................................................ 15
       Softwood cuttings ......................................................................................................................... 16
       Conifer cuttings ............................................................................................................................. 16
   Creating a Bonsai by Layering ........................................................................................................... 16
       Ground layering ............................................................................................................................. 16
       Air layering..................................................................................................................................... 17
   Creating a Bonsai from Garden Centre stock .................................................................................... 18
       Selecting a tree for conversion ...................................................................................................... 19
   Creating a Bonsai by digging a tree ................................................................................................... 21
   A case study on creating a Bonsai from a stock tree ........................................................................ 23
   (Garden center or Collected) ............................................................................................................. 23
   Repotting the tree ............................................................................................................................. 24
Feeding .................................................................................................................................................. 25
   Feeding repotted trees ...................................................................................................................... 25
   Overfeeding ....................................................................................................................................... 25
   Nitrogen (N) ....................................................................................................................................... 25
   Phosphorus (P) .................................................................................................................................. 26
   Potassium (K) ..................................................................................................................................... 26

                                                                              88
   Sequestered Iron ............................................................................................................................... 26
Indoor Bonsai ........................................................................................................................................ 26
   Feeding .............................................................................................................................................. 26
   Light ................................................................................................................................................... 27
   Heat ................................................................................................................................................... 27
   Humidity ............................................................................................................................................ 27
   Rotate your trees............................................................................................................................... 28
   Artificial Light..................................................................................................................................... 28
   Displaying your trees ......................................................................................................................... 29
Jin, Sharimiki and Sabamiki ................................................................................................................... 29
   Sabamiki ............................................................................................................................................ 30
Pests and Diseases................................................................................................................................. 32
   Insects................................................................................................................................................ 32
   Red Spider Mite ................................................................................................................................. 32
   Fungus ............................................................................................................................................... 32
   Scab ................................................................................................................................................... 32
   Other Pests ........................................................................................................................................ 32
   Cats .................................................................................................................................................... 33
   Little Helpers ..................................................................................................................................... 33
Pots ........................................................................................................................................................ 33
   Pot Colour .......................................................................................................................................... 34
   Choosing a pot to enhance the 'Mood' of the tree ........................................................................... 34
   Cascade pots...................................................................................................................................... 35
   Alternative's to pots .......................................................................................................................... 35
   Cement .............................................................................................................................................. 35
Pruning and Leaf trimming .................................................................................................................... 37
   Pruning and removing branches ....................................................................................................... 37
   Branch pruning .................................................................................................................................. 37
   Pruning conifers other than Pines ..................................................................................................... 38
       Pruning Pines ................................................................................................................................. 38
   Pruning for development .................................................................................................................. 39
       Differential pruning ....................................................................................................................... 39
   Pruning Pines ..................................................................................................................................... 40
   Pinching and Leaf trimming ............................................................................................................... 41
       Leaf Trimming ............................................................................................................................. 41
   Pruning a Bonsai to maintain its shape ............................................................................................. 42
       Differential pruning ....................................................................................................................... 43
Refining Bonsai ...................................................................................................................................... 44

                                                                              89
   Refining branches .............................................................................................................................. 44
Repotting and Root pruning .................................................................................................................. 46
   Repotting Time .................................................................................................................................. 46
   Positioning the tree in the pot .......................................................................................................... 49
   Creating a balance between the roots and foliage. .......................................................................... 50
The Roots ............................................................................................................................................... 51
   Improving your bonsai's roots ........................................................................................................... 52
Saikei or Tray Landscapes ...................................................................................................................... 53
Bonsai Styles .......................................................................................................................................... 55
   Broom Style ....................................................................................................................................... 55
   Multi Trunk Styles.............................................................................................................................. 55
   Cascade Style ..................................................................................................................................... 55
   Roots over Rock ................................................................................................................................. 55
   Formal Upright .................................................................................................................................. 55
   Roots Exposed ................................................................................................................................... 55
   Group Plantings ................................................................................................................................. 55
   Semi-cascade Style ............................................................................................................................ 55
   Informal Upright ................................................................................................................................ 55
   Slanting Style ..................................................................................................................................... 55
   Literati Style....................................................................................................................................... 55
   Windswept Style................................................................................................................................ 55
   Bonsai Styles, some pointers ............................................................................................................. 56
   Bonsai Styles: Broom Style ................................................................................................................ 57
       Besom style ................................................................................................................................... 57
       Candle style ................................................................................................................................... 58
   Bonsai Styles: Cascade Style .............................................................................................................. 58
   Bonsai Styles: Formal Upright ........................................................................................................... 59
   Bonsai Styles: Group Plantings .......................................................................................................... 60
       Placing the trees ............................................................................................................................ 60
   Bonsai Styles: Informal Upright ......................................................................................................... 61
   Bonsai Styles: Literati Style................................................................................................................ 62
   Bonsai Styles: Multi-trunked Styles ................................................................................................... 63
   Bonsai Styles: Roots over rock .......................................................................................................... 65
   Roots Exposed ................................................................................................................................... 66
   Bonsai Styles: Semi-cascade .............................................................................................................. 66
   Bonsai Styles: Slanting ....................................................................................................................... 66
   Bonsai Styles: Windswept Style......................................................................................................... 67
Suitable Trees ........................................................................................................................................ 67

                                                                            90
   Beech Cedar Cherry Cypress Elm Ginkgo Hawthorn Hornbeam ....................................................... 68
   Larch Maple Juniper Pine Redwoods Rhododendrons Yew .............................................................. 68
   Suitable species for keeping Indoors................................................................................................. 68
   Unsuitable trees ................................................................................................................................ 69
   Suitable Trees: Beech ........................................................................................................................ 69
   Suitable Trees: Cedar......................................................................................................................... 70
   Suitable Trees: The Cherry Family ..................................................................................................... 70
   Suitable Trees: Cypress...................................................................................................................... 71
   Suitable Trees: Elms and Zelcova ...................................................................................................... 71
   Suitable Trees: Ginkgo ....................................................................................................................... 72
   Suitable Trees: Hawthorn .................................................................................................................. 73
   Suitable Trees: Hornbeam ................................................................................................................. 73
   Suitable Trees: Larch ......................................................................................................................... 74
   Suitable Trees: Maples ...................................................................................................................... 74
   Suitable Trees: Junipers ..................................................................................................................... 76
   Suitable Trees: Pines ......................................................................................................................... 76
   Suitable Trees: Redwoods ................................................................................................................. 77
   Suitable Trees: Rhodedendron .......................................................................................................... 78
   Suitable Trees: Yews .......................................................................................................................... 78
Tools ...................................................................................................................................................... 79
Watering your Bonsai ............................................................................................................................ 79
   Over watering .................................................................................................................................... 80
   Liverwort ........................................................................................................................................... 82
   Watering systems .............................................................................................................................. 82
   Holiday Watering............................................................................................................................... 82
Wiring .................................................................................................................................................... 83
   Wire ................................................................................................................................................... 84
   Other methods for lowering branches are:....................................................................................... 86
Winter Protection .................................................................................................................................. 86




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