GREEN DRAGON BONSAI
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All your Bonsai needs catered for, we supply all things Bonsai. Bonsai trees, Bonsai tools, Bonsai pots, Bonsai feed, Bonsai Accessories and much more all at the most competitive prices anywhere. Satisfaction guaranteed along with everything else Plus we will give all the FREE Bonsai advice you need.
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Green Dragon Bonsai,
Prestatyn, Denbighshire Tel:- 075 0000 5337
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Bonsai Tools
Bonsai Scissors
Branch Cutters
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Wire Cutters
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Root Hooks
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Glazed 4" pots
Glazed 5" pots
Glazed 6" pots
Glazed 7" pots
Glazed 8" pots
Glazed 10" pots
Glazed 12" pots
Unglazed 8" pots
Unglazed 10" pots
Unglazed 12" pots
Unglazed 14"pots
Larger Pots
Round Pots
Cascade Pots
Shallow oval pots
Handmade Pots
Handmade Shohin Pots
Assorted odds and ends
Plastic Pots and drip trays
Bonsai Trees
Indoor Bonsai
Outdoor Bonsai

Bonsai Feed
Liquid Feed
Bio Gold pellets
Fertiliser Baskets

Bonsai Wire
Aluminium wire
Copper Wire

Bonsai Sundries
Wound Sealant
Cut Paste
Lime Sulphur
Jin Seal
Potting Mesh
Camellia Oil
Potting Mesh
Bonsai Soil
Akadama
Kiryu
Kiyodama
Kanuma
Indoor ready mix
Multipurpose Bonsai mix


Bonsai Tools
Bonsai Scissors
Branch Cutters
Knob Cutters
Wire Cutters
Jin Pliers
Root Cutters
Trunk Splitters
Root Hooks
Rakes
Tweezers
Spatulas
Tool Sets
Sieves
Scoops
Bending Jacks
Turntables
Brushes
Bonsai Tool Sets
Bonsai Pots
Glazed 4" pots
Glazed 5" pots
Glazed 6" pots
Glazed 7" pots
Glazed 8" pots
Glazed 10" pots
Glazed 12" pots
Unglazed 8" pots
Unglazed 10" pots
Unglazed 12" pots
Unglazed 14"pots
Larger Pots
Round Pots
Cascade Pots
Shallow oval pots
Handmade Pots
Handmade Shohin Pots
Assorted odds and ends
Plastic Pots and drip trays
Bonsai Trees
Indoor Bonsai
Outdoor Bonsai

Bonsai Feed
Liquid Feed
Bio Gold pellets
Fertiliser Baskets

Bonsai Wire
Aluminium wire
Copper Wire

Bonsai Sundries
Wound Sealant
Cut Paste
Lime Sulphur
Jin Seal
Potting Mesh
Camellia Oil
Potting Mesh
Bonsai Soil
Akadama
Kiryu
Kiyodama
Kanuma
Indoor ready mix
Multipurpose Bonsai mix


The illusion of Bonsai.


           Why the Illusion of Bonsai I hear you ask. Well, look at it this way, take a tree any tree, growing in a pot and style it. Hopefully, what comes out of the other end merits the title of Bonsai. The process of styling has taken a normal piece of vegetative growth and transformed it into an image of a tree inspired by nature. It's still a normal tree underneath but if the job has been done well, the viewer sees something more, something that fires the imagination. We know what we started with so the finished work must be an illusion.
            Traditional teaching of styling methods tends to focus on trees that are a million miles away from what a typical beginner has to work with and potential styles are described in terms of Japanese ideals that are totally incomprehensible to Joe Bloggs from just outside Bletchley. So lets forget the rules, or at least look at them in a different way.

Overall Size.
            Take a look at some pictures of Bonsai in books, especially the ones taken against a plain background. Now without looking at the caption, can you tell how big the tree is. If the answer is no, then the illusion has been created. I only realised this when I showed photographs of my trees to a non-Bonsai photographer friend for his comments on my use of a camera. He suggested that I placed a ruler or some other object of known proportion in the picture because he couldn't tell how big the trees were. Size is not important. Scale and proportion are. Let's break the tree down into its component parts and examine the contribution of each in turn.

Roots
            Before styling a tree, be aware of its surface root structure since this is an integral part of any Bonsai. The roots are what joins the trunk to the pot. An obvious statement you may think but I refer not to the physical ties but rather to the visual connections. The roots should be in proportion with the tree in terms of diameter and should radiate all around the trunk to give an impression of stability. If a tree is leaning or cascading to one side then the roots on the opposite side should reflect the effort needed to anchor the weight of the tree.

Trunks.
            There seems to be an obsession with the size of trunks. The only difference a thick trunk makes is that it allows you to work in a larger scale. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe size isn't the driving factor and large scale trees are just a sign of impatience or an admission of inability to reduce leaf size. True, older, thicker trunks have that certain aged quality but that part forms only a part of the whole and to let it become the driving factor is a recipe for failure. Whatever the size of your trunk, it's what you do with it that counts. But what you could really do with is...

Taper.
            One of the most important features of Bonsai is taper or at least the illusion of taper. Japanese rules would have us believe that the height of a Bonsai should be six times the diameter of the base of the trunk. This is one rule that serves as a good guideline when deciding how to style a tree because it suggests a rough size range in which to work. It doesn't have to be exactly six times but if you can end up somewhere in that region and still produce taper then the dimensions of the design become obvious and visualising the branches required is made that much easier.
            The existing trunk on a piece of raw material is not always ideal to use in creating Bonsai. Taking an existing branch up to form a new apex is one of the easiest ways of replacing a top which is too thick but sometimes it is obvious from the result just what has been done. Disguise the change of direction with inventive carving or a strategically placed piece of foliage.

Branches.
            Branches should not emanate from the same height on opposite sides of the trunk. This is nearly always a good rule to follow when looking at major branches in the lower part of the tree since these are the branches that contribute much to the character of the tree and as such anything that interferes with the eye when admiring these features will detract from the overall impression. On the other hand, once we get into the upper regions where branches and foliage should ideally be denser, the point where a branch comes out of the trunk is not always obvious and defects in branch arrangement can be hidden by intelligent bending of branches. Likewise back branches can oppose front branches since the important point about back branches is to give a sense of depth by allowing the foliage to be seen through the spaces between side branches, the point at which it leaves the trunk is not as important as where it appears from behind the trunkline. Whilst on the subject of back branches......

Depth.
            Bear in mind that what you are trying to create in styling a tree is a three-dimensional object. Photographers will be familiar with the term depth of field. Think of the picture that you may have seen where the main subject is sharply in focus while the background is blurred. This type of picture has narrow depth of field. This makes a good composition in most cases because the subject is usually an interesting face or object. But make the depth of field too narrow and the image becomes flat and two-dimensional. Create a tree with branches only to the sides and you get the same result.
Create back branches that offer something more to look at beyond the obvious points. Leave spaces between side branches to tempt the eye into looking through in search of something interesting at the back of the tree. Try and avoid any gaps in the foliage large enough for the eye to escape out of the back but at the same time resist the temptation to create an impenetrable wall. Create space with which the tree can interact and avoid gaps which allow the backdrop to exert an influence. In this way the eye is forced to move forwards and backwards in the third-dimension.

Upper branches
            These should be closer together than the lower branches, but not so close as to be impenetrable to the eye. Introduce front facing branches on the upper half of the tree but rather than bringing them straight out towards the front, take the foliage, not the branch itself, across the line of the trunk. This will have the effect of breaking the trunks into segments each one hopefully thinner than the one below it thus emphasising the taper.

Apexes.
             Apexes on most trees are usually made up of a number of small branches rather than just one. Try and emulate this in your trees by using several small branches to create a dome effect rather than having one branch pointing skyward.

Carving
             Deadwood effects on Bonsai should be used with caution. Some species can benefit greatly when the techniques are correctly applied. If your goal is to reproduce a tree as it would grow in nature then you have to consider whether deadwood is the norm. But is that what we are trying to achieve? For example the vast majority of Junipers growing in the wild seem to have some sort of deadwood somewhere and it seems only natural to include it in Bonsai. Then again you see a lot of oaks with dead branches. But is this acceptable?
When I think of a Juniper, I visualise a lone tree clinging to its miserable existence on a windswept mountainside battered by the worst elements nature has to offer. In other words deadwood is an acceptable part of the (my) natural image.
            On the other hand the oak conveys the majesty of the English countryside on a hot summers day with birds singing in the trees, the smell of freshly mown grass, the.... I'm sure you get the picture. But does that image include deadwood. I think not. Carving and deadwood effects have their place in Bonsai in the same way that apple pie and custard is very nice but it wouldn't go down well after corn flakes and you wouldn't want it after every meal!

Pots.
            The pot is an integral part of Bonsai. It forms part of the image that we are striving for by complimenting the style and type of tree. Formal pots should be kept for formal styles whilst more inventive designs call for a more imaginative outlook. A tree styled to give an image of windswept mountain tops would not be displayed at its best in a shiny blue Japanese pot.
            The pot itself is nothing more than a container for the roots and as long as the horticultural requirements are met then it can be any shape. Size dictates itself but shape is a whole new ball game. Try making your own cement fondue pots that reflect the environment that you wish to associate with the tree. This way the tree gets a custom made pot to compliment the image and not something that you just happen to have lying about at the time. Never compromise on the design of the tree because you have a certain pot in mind.

             So there you have it, everything you need to know about Bonsai. No rules, just guidelines and something to think about. If you agree entirely then think again. I may be right but that doesn't matter. On the road to Bonsai enlightenment it is more important to have your own ideas. Continually question what I or anybody else has to say about Bonsai because at the end of the day it's the fulfillment of your own dreams which will provide the greatest satisfaction.

Mark Kennerley
Jan 2001

WHAT IS BONSAI? - A brief introduction defining Bonsai

GETTING STARTED - A few simple pointers to get you going

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES - An outline of the basic requirements

THE CHINESE ELM - Everybody starts here, some home truths

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - A whimsical look at some common problems

BONSAI CALENDAR - What to do and when to do it

STYLING - DEVELOPING THE EYE - Slightly more advanced but essential

5 MINUTE RAFT PLANTING - A simple project

THE ILLUSION OF BONSAI - More food for thought

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DAESHOJO MAPLE BONSAI

TRIDENT MAPLE BONSAI

OTHER MAPLE TREES

CHINESE JUNIPER BONSAI

ILEX CRENATA
(JAPANESE HOLLY) BONSAI


OTHER BONSAI TREES

CHINESE ELM BONSAI

SAGERETIA BONSAI

CHINESE PEPPER BONSAI

HACKBERRY BONSAI

CRAB APPLE BONSAI

PODOCARPUS BONSAI


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DAESHOJO MAPLE BONSAI

TRIDENT MAPLE BONSAI

OTHER MAPLE TREES

CHINESE JUNIPER BONSAI

ILEX CRENATA
(JAPANESE HOLLY) BONSAI


OTHER BONSAI TREES

CHINESE ELM BONSAI

SAGERETIA BONSAI

CHINESE PEPPER BONSAI

HACKBERRY BONSAI

CRAB APPLE BONSAI

PODOCARPUS BONSAI


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