Bonsai
garden design

Inspiration for displaying your trees

A well designed Bonsai garden makes your trees stand out more than anything else. But designing one is incredibly difficult, especially because you need to find a way to display your trees at eye-level, while keeping in mind the individual requirements of each of your trees.

Some trees will need at least partial shade on the warmest days, while other trees prefer as much sun as they can get. Most professional Bonsai gardens have shade-cloth systems, with varying amounts of shadow provided, that can be used in summer. This article can help you to find inspiration and offers a few guidelines to get started; good luck!

Displaying your Bonsai on vertical poles in the garden

Professional Bonsai gardens (think: Japanese Bonsai gardens) often display their most important trees centrally in the garden, placed on poles. Placing the trees at eye level makes them stand out and gives visitors the opportunity to gaze at the trees while strolling around.

Placing the poles is relatively straightforward, so the only difficulty is in choosing materials. We've come across wooden pillars (old railroad ties or tree trunks), stone slabs and concrete pillars. For inspiration, let's take a look at some gardens where Bonsai are displayed on poles.

Shunkaen in tokyo
This photo was taken at the famous Bonsai garden in Tokyo; Shunkaen. The garden is quite spacious and this is the center patio; around it the masterpiece trees are displayed on poles made of wood. Most of these trees are pines.
Bonsai garden with Koi pond
Another shot taken at Shunka-en, more trees on display, around a pond filled with Japanese Koi fish. The poles are made of concrete, shaped like trees. The benefit of using concrete is that the pillars can be quite thin.
StreamLinkcom Bonsai Garden
This Bonsai backyard successfully creates depth in a rather limited space, by placing the pillars in the front a bit lower than those at the back. The simple color of the fence makes the trees stand out. I found this picture at StreamLink, but I'm not sure whose garden this is.
Bonsai Garden in china by Paul Thompson
This Chinese Penjing garden puts all emphasis on the trees by using simple materials; a plain background and clean concrete pillars. Chinese Penjing landscapes are often bigger than the Japanese counterparts. Photo by Paul Thompson.
Suzuki's Bonsai garden in Obuse
One of the most beautiful Bonsai tree gardens in Japan, Shinji Suzuki's Bonsai garden is located in Obuse. The trees in the photo catch the eye, as the background and ground are plain. The owner of the garden, mr. Suzuki, is known for his great skill at displaying Bonsai, so this is one garden to look at for inspiration. The trees are fixed to the poles they stand on, mostly to protect the trees from storms and heavy snowfall.

Using benches in your Bonsai garden

Building a bench to put your trees on is more difficult than it seems, especially when you want it to last longer than 1 - 2 years. In the fourth photo below you see a bench that you can create yourself. First, let's have a look at some examples.

Koukaen Bonsai garden
This photo was taken at the Koukaen garden located near Osaka. The Bonsai garden has several rows of wide benches, on which smaller trees are placed at the outsides and larger trees in the middle (sometimes on crates or tables to create some depth in the displays).
Singapore Botanical Garden
This is the Singapore Botanical Garden, in which a bench is made out of concrete in a circle. Difficult to create for beginners, but absolutely stunning! The display area is open, but a glass roof protects the trees from the elements.
Weyerhaeuser Bonsai garden, Aureliak
This is the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai garden (photo also by Aureliak). The bench photographed here is absolutely wonderful.

Bonsai Bench by Jeremy Norbury
Bonsai bench created by Jeremy Norbury. He explains how to create one yourself here: creating a Bonsai bench for your garden.

Vertical Bonsai garden

We finish the article looking at a great way to display Bonsai plants; in vertical gardens.

Vertical Bonsai garden by Alex Lamb
This vertical Bonsai backyard is created by a plain and natural wall to which several platforms are attached. Photo by Alex Lamb.
Arboretum Washington DC
This stunning display is found at the Arboretum in Washington Dc (photo by Aaron Karnofski).

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Master the art of Bonsai

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Overview of our courses

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Online Bonsai Courses Learn from leading Bonsai experts at your own pace, from the comfort of your living room!