Contrary to what many people think, bonsai is not a specific tree species. Bonsai can be created from many varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines. Both Coniferous and Deciduous trees are used in bonsai. Pine, Maple and Juniper are considered the ‘Classic’ bonsai.
Combining both horticultural and artistic skills the objective of bonsai, regardless of the species, is to create the illusion of fully grown, mature trees in miniature. It involves the bringing of tree(s) and pot together into visual harmony.
Classified by styles, relating to the trunk angle, shape, number of trunks, formal, informal, slanting, cascade or group planting, bonsai vary dramatically in size from tiny shito bonsai trees grown in containers the size of a thimble, to trees requiring several men to move.
A bonsai should have a well tapered trunk and have branches all around the tree aiding to give the bonsai visual depth and ‘beauty’. The lower part of the trunk should be visible and well seated to show its ‘power’.
Wiring branches on younger tress, for as long as needed helps to encourage them to set into desired positions.
Contrary to what many believe, age is not a prerequisite for a bonsai tree. Instead, several techniques can be used to increase the illusion of age. Two advanced techniques, Jin and Sharimiki involve the removal of bark and subsequent carving of the exposed wood create the effect of an ancient tree that has suffered a trauma many years ago.
Bonsai do not differ genetically from trees found in nature. They stay small because they are confined in a container.