The Grow Bonsai Tree Checklist! Plan ahead!

Welcome to our Grow Bonsai Tree Checklist…… It is always best when planning a Bonsai to have a goal in mind.

Important!!! - If you are a Bonsai beginner, read this guide before proceeding!

Grow Bonsai Tree Checklist explained….

You may have thought at some time or another, that there is a lot of information to digest in the Bonsai world. You'd be right!!!

Wouldn't it be easier if we could grow Bonsai tree artists as well? No!, that would take the fun out of it!

Sorry to digress....... back to it!

1 – Plan your natural Bonsai

You should aim to have a natural looking Bonsai. It should mimic natural images of trees in nature, and should be free from obvious signs of styling such as wire marks or chopped branches or trunk. Your Bonsai needs to be three dimensional, and should possess interesting curves or directional changes. It should have many different viewing angles, and be appreciated as a work of art.

2- Make the best of your Bonsai's unique features

Each bonsai is unique, and it is important to study it's natural features and decide on methods of styling. This is when you observe natural bends, twists, and angles and decide on which of these you will build on.

Read our guide on Bonsai Shaping to aid your understanding of Bonsai styles and shapes.

3 – Establish the front and back of your Bonsai

Observe the trunk, root, and major branches from all angles and settle on the front of your Bonsai. Mark the front, and take a picture for your personal records. It is not necessary to formulate your design by accepting a forward pointing crown as the front to your Bonsai. This can limit your design options.

Your Bonsai may have two potential fronts. Mark both, take photos, and work your design to incorporate both. It will become obvious in time, which will be the main front to your Bonsai.

4 – Understand your Bonsai's strengths and weaknesses

Most trees grow stronger at the top then the bottom, however, some are basally dominant. It is important to study the species of tree you are using for your bonsai, and to establish if it has any natural growth imbalance. A natural growth imbalance will affect your natural design, as dominant areas of growth may need to be thinned down and shortened in order to rejuvenate weaker areas. It may be necessary to eliminate weak branches from your design, or to accept disappointment if they fail to respond to training.

5 - Think three dimensional in your design

It is important to design a Bonsai that will be attractive from all angles. You should aim for lots of front to back movement and depth. Think ahead of time, and imagine how your design will look from other viewing angles. Ask yourself before removing a branch, if reshaping or moving a branch would better help achieve a well-rounded design.

6 - Your Bonsai is a work of art- realise its potential!

Look for a strong central line, but be sure not to overlook other areas of interest. Do not over simplify your design, and do not be a slave to formula. The success of your Bonsai, can be likened to the success of a painting or sculpture, and will be achieved through inspiration and stimulation. It's true success lies in the mental reactions of its viewers, and will be achieved with the stimulation of the eye. You therefore want the eye to make as many movements as possible. The important thing to remember, is that you grow Bonsai tree lines. You change it's appearance like you would a painting. You are in charge!

7 - Draw a before image of your Bonsai

Sketch out the current shape of your tree and the proposed front. I would also encourage you to take photos. It is incredibly helpful to see where you came from on such a brilliant journey. The old saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words” finds many truths in the life of your Bonsai. We'll call the sketch your ' Grow Bonsai Tree Blueprint'!!!

Pretty catchy huh?

8 - Draw a proposed image of your Bonsai

Apply an achievable realistic image over the top of your current image, keeping the core parts of the tree that will remain. This may take several attempts as you learn what makes a good design, and a satisfying image. In such a technological world, there is no reason you can not bring your design to life on your computer. Do what inspires you, and allows you to gain an honest and achievable design. Unfortunately, you can grow Bonsai tree branches, trunks and foliage, but you can't grow a design!

.....Now get your pencil out! Remember, we can't grow Bonsai Tree Artists so you have to do this yourself! Trust us, this will be fun!

9 - Acknowledge your Bonsai's faults

Make a list of your Bonsai's faults. It may be a branch or even the pot. Acknowledging the negatives will allow you to move away from a poor design to a better one. Making such a list will also allow you to see your Bonsai's strengths, and what is right in your design. It will allow you to reshape the design and path of your Bonsai, and will help you make decisions in achieving a wonderful design.

10 - Address each negative and seek to resolve

Try not to be overwhelmed by your negative list, seek to address each negative and resolve it. Remember what you are trying to achieve, and keep your Bonsai looking natural!

Grow Bonsai Tree Checklist 'Things to Consider'..........

To best achieve symmetry and good lines you will need to understand several key factors:

• Initial Point of Focus - Your Bonsai will have an initial point of focus, preferably near the centre of the tree. This may be an interesting trunk or trunk basal flare.

• One Strong Line - The eye should be led along one strong line. This may be a Long Branch or trunk, or cascading trunk. The human eyes will automatically follow lines first, so why not make your strong line something fantastic!

• Several smaller lines or shapes – Other lines, such as branches, should then draw interest. These lines should be inviting the eye to study more interesting detail such as, foliage, foliage pads, bends, and angles.

• Additional detail and textures – Interesting shapes, textures, colours, small leaves or needles add extra stimulation for the eye.

• Diagonal Lines – If you can angle your trunk or branches, this will add appeal and interest to your Bonsai. Horizontal and vertical lines are restful to the human eye, where as diagonal lines will stimulate the eye.

• Curved lines – These are attractive to the eye, and conjure feelings of speed.

• Repetition of Lines – The human eye searches for repeating shapes, such as foliage pads or strong angular branches or bends. When these repeating shapes are placed a good distance apart, the eye will then be able to examine the finer details between each repetition. As you grow Bonsai tree branches you will begin to see where they should go.

• Perspective – Your Bonsai should look like you have peered through a set of binoculars the wrong way. It is also important to consider designing your Bonsai as if you were looking at it through a fish eye lens. All the top branches radiate upwards, horizontally in the middle and downward at the bottom,

• Symmetry – should only be attempted if a precise symmetrical design can be achieved. The trunk must be perfectly upright, and the branch structure must be arranged precisely.

Grow Bonsai Tree Checklist (summary)

• Plan Your Natural Bonsai (aim to have a natural looking Bonsai)

• Make the best of your Bonsai's unique features

• Establish the front and back of your Bonsai

• Understand your bonsai's strengths and weaknesses

• Think three dimensional in your design

• Your Bonsai is a work of art- realise it's potential!

• Draw a before image of your Bonsai

• Draw a proposed image of your Bonsai

• Acknowledge your Bonsai's faults

• Address each negative and seek to resolve

*****Changes can be achieved through Pruning and Wiring. Click here for a guide on pruning or here for a guide on wiring*****

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