This is a quick guide related to bonsai appreciation and what features makes a tree a bonsai tree, or even a great bonsai tree. A few elements are essentials to create the illusion of a great old aged tree in a pot. The fact that real trees are appreciated from a distance and that bonsai trees are appreciated from a close range makes that a bonsai artist must provides features on its bonsai tree that will yield a visual effect of a real tree seen from a distance. Each species of trees as its own special characteristics when mature makes it even more interesting for the bonsai artist to have a great bonsai garden with various species. A successful bonsai artist with various species can certainly be called a bonsai master.
In general, a bonsai tree mid-point should be at eye level for a perfect bonsai appreciation session. This will provide a great visual experience as it will render an illusion of a massive tree seen from ground level.
A bonsai tree can be appreciated in regards to various aspects, but the most common are: roots, trunk, branches, foliage and apex.
The surface roots are referred to as nebari
In Japanese. The nebari is essential to create the desired effect of an aged, solid and matured tree. In general, surface roots all around the trunk of a bonsai tree will give stability but the impression of robustness. Ideally, the width of the surface roots should be twice the diameter size of the trunk. This will ensure a proper harmony and balance of your bonsai tree.
Depending on the desired bonsai style
, various surface roots configurations are required to provide a great visual experience. The radial roots are surface roots that will extend outward in every direction with roots on the side being a bit longer then front and back roots. This type of roots is ideal for an upright bonsai tree.
Slanting or cascade style bonsai tree should have roots in a radial pattern but with predominance on the side of the slanting or cascade. It provides an illusion of balance.
When the goal of the bonsai artist is to reproduce a tree that as grown in adverse conditions like a steep slope or near a river, it is best to expose the roots to create the illusion of the soil being wash away from roots and that the tree as fight for its life.
The trunk is often the main element in appreciating a bonsai tree. It will be the main focal point of the eye and will be the one to create the illusion of an aged and mature tree. The trunk should taper evenly from a thick base all the way to the apex. The trunk should be free of wounds or if it as any, they should be in the back or discreet. If a trunk has curves, these should be smooth and natural, as if nature had done it. The thickness and diameter of the trunk should be in proportion with the rest of the bonsai tree and its height.
The branches design and styles should easily blend with the roots and trunk. The length of the branches should be at a maximum of 6 to 8 times the diameter of the trunk. Short internodes and finer small branches are essential to keep the visual experience of a bonsai tree in proportion. Too much distance in between small branches and leaves will gives an unnatural feeling to the bonsai tree. The first branch on an upright bonsai should be placed at 1/3 of the trunk. This should be the thickest branch and the rest of the branches should be thinner as they reach the apex.
The crown or apex is the point of growth of the tree. A bonsai tree is always growing and trees are naturally developing a growing point at the top. When appreciating a bonsai, the desired effect is to create an illusion that the viewer is looking at a massive tree from the soil level. Making the apex lean a maximum of 15 degrees to the front should help give that impression to the bonsai viewer.