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! The ten trees are not ordered in any way.
(#1) An 800 year-old Bonsai tree at Shunkaen, by Kunio Kobayashi
A remarkable tree which is well known for its extremely high age; the tree is reported to be over 800 years old, one of the most expensive Bonsai trees! Its owner, master Kobayashi, is one of the most well known Bonsai artists in the world and has won the prestigious Prime Minister award in Japan 4 times. His nursery, ShunkaEn, is located in Tokyo and is open to visitors. For more information, read the Shunka-en Bonsai page, or check the Bonsai artist profile of Kunio Kobayashi.
(#2) Goshin "protector of the spirits", by John Naka
Goshin ("protector of the spirit") is a Bonsai created by John Y. Naka. It is a forest planting of eleven Foemina Junipers, the earliest of which Naka began training into Bonsai in 1948. Naka donated it to the National Bonsai Foundation in 1984, to be displayed at the United States National Arboretum; it has been there ever since. The tree is posted on our Bonsai homepage, but you can also read more about John Naka in his Bonsai artist profile.
(#3) Small Bonsai; a Shohin tree by Morten Albek
A gorgeous Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horisontalis). This is a picture taken in spring; the tree flowers in summer and has small red berries in wintertime. The tree is only 9,5 cm (4 inches) high and is planted on a miniature rock. The pot is made by John Pitt, a famous potter. The tree is about 20 years old on the picture and has been in training for about a decade.
(#4) Pinus Silvestris, by Stefano Frisoni
This tree is remarkably realistic, a character highly valued for Bonsai trees. As you can see, the foliage pads are very dense, as if it were clouds in the sky. Read the article on how this tree was cultivated and trained here!
(#5) Chinese styled trees; a Penjing landscape by Yee-sun Wu
This wonderful Chinese landscape belongs to the Man Lung collection in Hong Kong. The trees are Chinese Bird Plums (Sageretia Theezans) and together make up a very realistic scenery. In the collection Ficus Bonsai are also popular. In this landscape, the trees, rock and miniature figurines are placed on a shallow rectangular pot (made of marble), which in turn is displayed on an antique table.
(#6) Flowering Bonsai, by Wolfgang Putz
This tree is an Azalea species of only 14 cm (5 inches) high. The picture is taken in late spring / early summer, the moment when Azalea trees bloom (shortly, but very vividly!). The tree is planted in a Japanese pot. We also have a Flowering Bonsai Top 10 article. Also, you can learn more about Wolfgang Putz in his Bonsai artist profile.
(#7) Brazilian rain tree, by Budi Sulistyo
This tree is grown from a small cutting and the result above is a picture taken 12 years later. A native of Central- and South America the Brazilian Rain tree is considered one of the tropical world's most beautiful and also one of the most popular Bonsai subjects. Read the article on how this tree was cultivated and trained here!
(#8) Mame Bonsai display, by Morten Albek
A Bonsai display (or in this case, a Mame display) normally consist of a central tree, a scroll and an accent plant. Together these objects create a powerful image, often a celebration of the current season.
(#9) Famous Bonsai; a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), by Walter Pall
One of the most famous Bonsai trees that belongs to the collection of an European Bonsai artist (Walter Pall), this tree is incredibly fine and realistic. The maple is big (almost a meter high, which is the maximum to be called a Bonsai tree) and over a hundred years old. A masterpiece without doubt, styled by an inspiring artist! Check the history of this tree here.
(#10) Bonsai master Kimura
Last but not least, Bonsai sensei Masahiko Kimura. His varied collection of Bonsai trees is world famous. Started at age 15, Kimura was an apprentice to master Hamano in Omiya Bonsai village. For more of his fascinating and sometimes unconventional work, visit Kimura's Bonsai garden! Or read his Bonsai artist profile; Masahiko Kimura.