What is a bonsai tree?
What is a Bonsai Tree? A bonsai tree is a living tree or shrub which has been grown in a way which gives the impression of being a full-sized, mature tree. An artistic representation of a full-sized tree in nature. Bonsai trees are generally grown in shallow ceramic pots. A bonsai is not a species of tree; in fact, many species of tree can be turned into bonsai through various techniques.
Bonsai images are found in nature
Think about a tree. Often the first image that you come up with is a large tree growing in a park or field. The first image that comes to my mind is a big deciduous tree such as an Oak, growing on its own with no other trees around it. Now think a little further about other trees that you have seen. Think about trees growing in craggy, mountainous locations where life is hard. Think about a copse of several trees growing on a hill. Think about trees growing by the coast that have been buffeted by strong prevailing winds. Think about trees growing near a river, where the water has eroded some of the soil and exposed roots are visible. Think about very old trees where storms, lightning or simply the passage of time have caused branches to die on the tree. Think about an old pine tree where some of the low branches have died and all that is left is a small canopy at the top. Think about smaller trees growing close to bigger trees, which lean outward, reaching for sunlight. All of these images of trees are the inspiration for bonsai.
A bonsai tree is a story
Now we’ve got some images of trees in our minds. A bonsai tree takes some of these natural images and aims to create a representation of these images in miniature. In the wild, a tree looks the way that it does due to the location that it is growing in and due to what has happened to it over the course of its life. A small tree simply planted into a pot will not have any history behind it. It will not have a story.
Bonsai is artistic design and good horticulture
Bonsai gives the small tree a story, through the use of artistic design and horticulture. We use our artistic skills to help the tree to grow in the way that we want. We use our gardening skills to keep the tree healthy so that it grows strongly. We often plant the tree into decorative pots which look nice and complement the overall image. We use bonsai tools and accessories such as scissors and cutters to prune the tree. We sometimes use special bonsai wire to control the direction of branches and trunks. We fertilise bonsai trees and use good-quality soil to promote healthy growth.
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