Some Random Thoughts on Bonsai Design

One of the great advantages of keeping a photographic record of your trees is that it allows you to consider and plan their future development as well as recording their actual development. When a tree is outside on the benches, we may only study it closely 2 or 3 times a year but if we photograph it and place that photograph prominently on our computer desktop then we see it and think about it every time that we go online. I do this all the time with my own trees and those of my friends and I find that it helps me to see and understand the strengths and weaknesses in their current state of development.

Here is an example that I have been studying and admiring today. It is not my tree. It is a recent acquisition by my friend and fellow club member, Gordon.


When I look this picture I see a  little white pine with good potential in a lovely unglazed Japanese pot. Two things stand out for me at the moment.

The first is that the direction and movement in the tree is a little ambiguous. The lower trunk and the lower left character branch are suggesting a left facing movement, while the apex suggests a movement towards the right. Consider it this way. If you were displaying this tree in a show and planed to complete the display with a small accent plant, on which side would you place the accent ? At the moment you could place it at either side and it wouldn’t make much difference but if the trees’ movement and direction were more clearly defined, the position for the accent would be obvious and the overall image would be stronger for it.

Using photo editing software we can visualize both options without harming the tree, to help inform any choice we might make in the future.

The next picture shows the apex reduced to strengthen the movement to the left.


And the next picture shows the bottom left character branch reduced, reinforcing the movement to the right. I personally prefer this one.


The other issue that is very apparent is the relative proportion of the tree and the pot. While the pot is very nice, it is definitely too big for this tree. Using the photo editing software again, we can alter the scale of the pot to bring it more into balance with the scale of the tree.




7 thoughts on “Some Random Thoughts on Bonsai Design

  1. Dam it is hard enough trying to keep my bonsai skills up with yours! Now I have to improve my computer skills too! LoL!😂

  2. Yes it is quite revealing sometimes to see ones trees on a computer and instantly see another styling option.As an artist I often used to look at my paintings in a mirror.It has the same effect of showing something that you have concentrated on perhaps almost too closely with a totally different eye sometimes throwing up an overlooked error. Interesting article reminds me when weather improves to get more photos

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