Saturday, December 28, 2013


Bonsai, along with the related Chinese Penjing, is the iconic art of very patient East Asians. The basic goal is to train a tiny tree to look like a full grown one, but along with that comes a lot of stuff about harmony and inner beauty and whatnot. I just love them. Above is a bald cypress in the formal upright style, established (or "trained" as they say) in 1987.

This juniper, established in 1905, makes extensive use of both jin (deadwood branches) and shari (trunk deadwood).

Japanese white pine in the informal upright style. The illusion of bonsai works best using trees with small leaves, so most Japanese bonsai are from a small group of species; small-leafed pines are the most common. This one is in the National Arboretum, one of the most important American collections. I noticed that while this used to be the national bonsai collection, now it is the National Collection of Bonsai and Penjing. I imagine that this started during the detente of the 70s when some Chinese diplomat toured to arboretum and said, "Bonsai? You know, we invented that."

A Japanese maple, another common species.

A group of atlas cedars in the forest style.

Another juniper, this one in the cascade style.

Of course now that bonsai has spread around the world,people are using trees native to all sorts of places; this is a bonsai banyan tree.

Wonderful they are.

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