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What makes a good bonsai

By Rudi Adam

  1. A good spread of surface roots springing from the base and radiating in all directions, gradually disappearing into the soil.
  2. A strong well shaped trunk spring naturally from the roots. and tapering evenly towards the apex, never abruptly chopped off, without wire marks.
  3. Good well proportioned branches, fitting not only the style and species, but also discerning the mood of the planting - never in profusion, but simple and well spaced and with natural appearance.
  4. The sign of good health and stability, such as leaf size and colour, natural looking ground cover (be it moss, gravel or bare soil). No sign of bad pruning scars.
  5. Flowers, fruit and leaves must be in proportion.
  6. Tree and container must harmonise and complement each other as well as the style.
  7. Proper spacing and planting in container so as to show off the roots and trunk to its best advantage and be in balance.
  8. Roots clasping a rock must really adhere and not just be wrapped around, or lopsided.
  9. Stones, moss and other additions to the planting must harmonise in size, colour and texture and must look natural, as well as in scale.

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Random Bonsai Tip

So much time is spent on striving towards perfection in the foliage area of trees but little contemplation goes into the area around the nebari. Consider planting your tree at different heights in the pot which might enhance the existing taper and roots. If your tree lacks roots use moss mounded in such a way to suggest underlying roots, or you can even use sticks of similar appearance to the wood of the tree as 'fake' roots until you are able to coerce roots to fill the void. Use appropriate gravel to complete the scene.