by Francesca Black
The Chinese art of penjing is very similar to and is the precursor
of the Japanese art of bonsai. Like Japanese bonsai, these plants
seem to exhibit more than just a physical beauty. As the Chinese
art is intended for outdoor display, the plants tend to be somewhat
larger than seen in Japanese bonsai. The Chinese influence on the
early bonsai masters is apparent since the Japanese still use the
same characters to represent bonsai as the Chinese. Later, the Japanese,
who used it to create beautiful gardens, adopted the bonsai technique.
When the plant reached the Japanese island, however, regional
gardening techniques influenced the development of bonsai in Japan,
distinguishing it from the Chinese variety. The Chinese penjing
is meant for outdoor display and is usually larger than Japanese
bonsai, which is developed for indoor display.
Outside Bonsai trees can be very striking when made the focal point
of a garden, especially a Japanese-style garden. The Japanese gardeners
created the bonsai oftentimes due to lack of space, and their love
of nature. For the Japanese, bonsai represents a fusion of strong
ancient beliefs with the Eastern philosophies of the harmony between
man, the soul and nature. It is easy to see how this has influenced
the Japanese approach to bonsai. One of the distinguishing characteristics
of bonsai styled by a traditionally trained Japanese artist is the
attention that is given to detail. Today, however, bonsai trees
are recognized as a Japanese system of growing stunted plants. The
Japanese art of pruning and shaping trees and shrubs that produces
long-lived miniature container plants. Probably the most difficult
part of caring for a Japanese Bonsai tree is keeping it small. The
Japanese tend to focus on using native species for their bonsai
namely pines, azaleas and maples. These are regarded as the traditional
bonsai plants. A Japanese Juniper is also considered a traditional
tree for bonsai and makes a great plant for the beginner. Other
traditional trees for bonsai are pine, maple, flowering apricot,
japanese wisteria, juniper, flowering cherry, and larch. When demand
for the small trees outgrew the supply, Japanese gardeners began
to train bonsai from native trees.
Caring for bonsai is no longer just a Japanese pastime. Americans
also enjoy the art. The art of bonsai, as developed in America,
is much freer in concept and style than Japanese bonsai. By contrast,
Japanese bonsai tend to look neater and more formalized.
There are many taboos and superstitions in Japanese bonsai, all
rooted throughout society. All of a sudden a topic that was static
and dull, such as Japanese culture or bonsai, takes on a new light
and air of mystery.
About the Author
Francesca Black works in marketing at Bonsai Garden http://www.bonsai-garden.com
and Pilates Shop http://www.pilates-shop.net
leading portals for bonsai gardening and natural exercise.