Basics of Design

Basics of Design

Bonsai Design

Introduction

by Lew Buller

 

 

There are enough different bonsai designs and names to confuse all but the experts. I intend to discuss the five basic designs at some length, and to the extent I have trees that show other designs, provide examples and their names. The five basic designs are formal upright, informal upright, slant style, half-cascade, and cascade.

Basics of Design

Cascade Forms

by Lew Buller

 

 

Kengai is the Japanese word for cascade. Han-kengai is the word for half-cascade. In John Naka’s Bonsai Techniques I, he discusses various forms of cascades and illustrates them with drawings. Kengai, the regular cascade, drops about 450 but not in a straight line; the tip swings either left or right. 

Basics of Design

Clump

by Lew Buller

 

 

The members of the bonsai club liked bonsai with heavy trunks, often cutting the tops off larger trees to get a large trunk. I got the bright idea of planting a number of young trees close together, letting them approach graft one another, and creating a large trunk.

Basics of Design

Computer Designs

by Lew Buller

Never could draw. When my bonsai instructors told me to draw a picture of the future tree I was working on, it came out like a kindergartner’s. I can, however, operate a computer mouse and a few basic skills have enabled me to use Photoshop to see what a future tree might look like.

Basics of Design

Formal Upright

by Lew Buller

There is only one formal upright in my collection, and that’s my bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). A formal upright requires a perfectly straight trunk and they are hard to come by. Even my bald cypress is not perfectly straight.

Basics of Design

Informal Upright

by Lew Buller

 

informal

 

There is only one formal upright in my collection, and that’s my bald cypress. A formal upright requires a perfectly straight trunk and they are hard to come by. Consequently, most of my upright trees are of the informal style.

Basics of Design

Slant Style (Shakan)

by Lew Buller

This firethorn (pyracantha) is my favorite slant style and the Editor of Bonsai, Journal of the American Bonsai Society liked it as well. He made it on the cover photo of  Spring 2003, Volume 37, Number 1. The only special design requirement it has it that it needs extra room between branches to let both blooms and berries grow.