A bonsai should replicate an old tree, in a miniaturized fashion. In order to create a miniature tree, you must cut the branches on a regular basis. Despite the fact that it's easy to achieve the small size, it's much more complicated to make a tree look old. This is the reason why you should study ordinary trees which can be found in forests; only if you understand their growth, can you make your bonsai look similar. The Japanese have been studying nature for ages. That's why we call bonsais styles „Japanese.“
The Upright Style
This style is characterized by the tree's base which is the primary axis leading from the top to bottom. Branches should grow alternately, no two branches of the same width should grow the same distance from the bonsai's base. It is very important to make all branches (within the first 70% of height) heading to the left or right side. Branches growing on the highest 30% of the tree can be orientated forward as well as backward. All branches must slope downwards, or must be horizontal at least.
Generally, there are two minor styles within the upright style. The first can be called „formal“ and the second's name could be „informal“. It depends if the base is incurved or not. The informal style is usually formed into the „S“ style with branches growing from the outside edges of curves. The informal style is very suitable for spruce trees.
Fig 1. : The Formal Upright style
Fig 2. : The Informal Upright style
The Fan style
This style is used for forming leafy bonsais only. The base divides itself into 2 or 3 equivalent branches which grow in all directions. It's necessary to make some of the main branches visible. In order to understand this style, you should watch trees during winter.
Fig 3. : The Fan style
The Bevelled style
The bevelled style is characterized by a sloping base. Although it's easy to achieve this look, bear in mind that branches must be orientated horizontally or they should slope down, towards to the pot.
Fig 4. : The Bevelled style
The Double-Base style
In my opinion, this style is one of the most beautiful. In nature, you can find many trees formed this way. Basically, the primary base divides itself into two secondary bases; One must be wider than the second one and they should create one common top.
Fig 5. : The Double-Base style
The Multi-Base style
In nature, this is not the most common style. However, such bonsai trees look terrfic if their owner takes care for them. Generally, you can create 3 or more secondary bases from the primary one. In the sense of traditions, man should prefer an odd number of bases. What's more, every base should be of different width and height. If the highest base is the widest one, then it looks natural. Of course, all bases should create one common top.
Fig 6. : The Multi-Base style
The Storm style
The storm style is based on a sloping trunk, with all branches orientated in the same direction as the trunk. You can find such trees on coasts, where windy conditions form them into this style (actually it is the the salt in the wind that prevents growth in the seaward direction). Patient shearing will result in this fascinating look.
Fig 7. : The Storm style
The Barge style
This style can be found in nature if a tree's base falls. This might be caused by erosion, storms, hurricanes, or anything that can break the trunk. If the tree survives, small branches develop themselves into trunks and they usually don't have common top.
If you decide to use this style, bear in mind that both the primary trunk and roots shouldn't be visible.
Fig 8. : The Barge style
The Forest style
Three or more independent trees in one pot create the forest style. However, every tree should be of a different age; Older and wider trees should be planted in the front. It's not recommended to mix leafy and spruce trees together. Be careful, because distances between trees should vary, otherwise it would not look natural.
Fig 9. : The Forest style
The Cascade style
This style is characterized by the trunk being orientated to one side, and the crown isn't the highest point of the tree. This style can be found on trees which grow on snowy places. In order to achieve this look, you must be patient and careful too; Heavy wiring or tightening would damage or even kill the tree.
Fig 10. : The Cascade style
The Tree in a Rock style
You need a rock for this style. The roots are embedded inside of that rock and the pot is placed in a bowl with water.
The Tree on a Rock style
Unlike the previous style, this one needs a small rock and tree's roots are planted in the soil.
Fig 11. : The Tree on a Rock style
The Literati style
The literary style is characterized by very high and slim bases. They are usually formed in interesting ways and have only a few twigs.
Fig 12. : The literati style
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