What is Bonsai?
The word “Bon-sai” (often misspelled as bonzai or banzai) is a Japanese term which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”. This art form is derived from an ancient Chinese horticultural practice, part of which was then redeveloped under the influence of Japanese Zen Buddhism. It has been around for well over a thousand years. The ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai is to create a miniaturized but realistic representation of nature in the form of a tree. Bonsai are not genetically dwarfed plants, in fact, any tree species can be used to grow one.
History of Bonsai
Although the word ‘Bon-sai’ is Japanese, the art it describes originated in the Chinese empire. By the year 700 AD the Chinese had started the art of ‘pun-sai’ using special techniques to grow dwarf trees in containers. Originally only the elite of the society practiced pun-tsai with native-collected specimens and the trees where spread throughout China as luxurious gifts. During the Kamakura period, the period in which Japan adopted most of China’s cultural trademarks, the art of growing trees in containers was introduced into Japan. The Japanese developed Bonsai along certain lines due to the influence of Zen Buddhism and the fact that Japan is only 4% the size of mainland China. The range of landscape forms was thus much more limited. Many well-known techniques, styles and tools were developed in Japan from Chinese originals. Although known to a limited extent outside Asia for three centuries, only recently has Bonsai truly been spread outside its homelands.
Top 10: Greatest Bonsai trees
Though growing Bonsai trees is a hobby practiced by many people around the world, its Asian origin is still obvious. Not surprisingly, the most impressive trees are to be found in collections of famous Japanese masters. We have put together a list of ten stunning trees that are unique in their beauty, balance and realism. These trees will help you appreciate this ancient and fascinating art!
Top 10: Most popular "Bonsai of the Day" images
With the year 2012 coming to an end, its time for a quick look back at the ten most popular Bonsai images that we shared on social media. These 10 trees are absolutely stunning and deserve special attention.
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How to grow a Bonsai tree
Most people started growing bonsai after having bought a tree in an (online) shop. Though this is without doubt a nice way to get started, it might be more interesting and less expensive to grow a tree yourself. Though 'bon-sai' is an Asian art, studied and refined for many centuries, don't think you won't be able to grow one yourself. In fact, everyone is perfectly capable of growing a tree as long as you pick the right tree species for your environment and properly care for it. In this article I'll explain how to get started with growing Bonsais and introduce you into the three main parts of this website: grow, train and bonsai care.
Bonsai styles, shapes and forms explained
Over the years many styles to classify Bonsai trees have been advanced, closely resembling circumstances in nature. These styles are open to personal interpretation and creativity, meaning that trees do not necessarily need to conform to any form. Still, the styles are important to gain a basic understanding of shapes and should serve as guidelines to successfully train miniature trees.
Bonsai trees are mystical objects, subject of the imagination. To provide some insight in what Bonsai is, where it comes from and what it's about we created an infographic, with all the basic information you need to get started.