Since bonsai itself is meant to depict our awe for what we see in nature, there are many, many styles and techniques needed to even attempt such a feat. To name a few of these styles we have: the formal upright, the informal upright, root over rock, exposed root, the twin trunk, the clump planting, the group planting, the cascade, the semi-cascade and on and on...
Already we have listed more styles of bonsai than our competitors even have trees, and we haven't even begun to discuss the various time honored techniques used that dramatically effect a tree's appearance!
The sad truth is that when such places do offer "bonsai" and on the rare occasion they are not really just regular plants in fancy pots, these stores carry one style only - the very basic and most common informal upright.
As they only handle one or two each of the three or four species based on their suppliers success rate of cramming them into small pots, one has to ask before buying, how many of these eight or so "trees" are actually showing any signs at all of vigorous healthy growth?
At the Bonsai Shop, we don't believe in placing such absurd limits on our customers. As always, a large selection equals customer satisfaction and that's what we're all about!
Over the years we have learned to identify and avoid these types of assembly line suppliers and have instead searched out reputable, competent growers who share our dedication and respect for this ancient art form.
One visit to our shop will tell you instantly you that we are not interested in duping anyone with fast-buck short cuts!
For 49 years we have built our reputation, one tree at a time, by being the same honest providers of value, quality and service we've always been since the day we opened our doors.
Chinese Penjing and Japanese Bonsai Trees
Now, let's talk a little history...
The Chinese art of penjing evolved thousands of years ago. Its Japanese relative bonsai, although derived from penjing has adapted a little differently over its thousand year history.
As both art forms advanced, they developed their own unique aesthetics and terminology. Both however, still reflect the natural world, man's relation to it and nature's effect on it.
Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) and penjing (pronounced pen-jing) are both singular and plural. In Chinese "pen" means pot or container and "jing" is translated as landscape or scenery.
The various elements used are the container/tray, rocks, trees, soil, water, grasses or moss, and figures (human, animal, or architectural). Not every element is required in every creation, often these are simply inferred in the overall composition.
Many penjing (typically landscapes), use rock in their design. The artist is not trying to create an exact copy of a landscape. Instead, he or she tries to portray an ideal image able to evoke an emotion the viewer can "recall" based on their own individual experiences with nature.
Of the tree basic types of penjing (tree, landscape, or water and land), bonsai is most directly related to tree penjing. In Japanese "bon" means plant or tree and "sai" means pot or tray. Most often in bonsai, woody plants are grown in containers as representations of aged or interesting trees.
The most common depictions are: single tree, multiple tree, and forest. Like penjing, bonsai has never been an attempt to create scale models. Rather, this living art form is carefully developed over years as a "statement" about: trees, man's interaction with them, or the often dramatic effects nature's cycles have on them.
True mastery of bonsai and penjing requires considerable knowledge of horticultural and aesthetic techniques to say the least. Carrying out the art of miniaturizing trees alone is a fascinating process. Doing so with strict adherence to various artistic principles while also attempting to depict the often formidable forces of nature itself, is nothing short of astonishing.
Needless to say, one must both possess and be able to convey a deep sense of reverence for the natural world. Is it any wonder then, that both these art forms are so deeply embedded in the histories and cultures in which they originated, or that we, in the west have become so fascinated with them?