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Frequently Asked Questions

Hi, I'm Jon, a bonsai enthusiast of twenty years and also a website developer, so when a friend gave me the idea for a website to help people like me develop their bonsai by sharing opinions, it seemed the perfect match for my skills.

My hope is that, using my bonsai experience and web development skills, I can make a contribution to the bonsai community, providing this website as a platform for bonsai enthusiasts to help improve their trees and to help elevate the general level of artistic achievement.

Bonsai can be seen as a compelling combination of horticulture, craft and art. The horticulture of bonsai is discussed extensively, and necessarily so. The craft of Bonsai is taught by example, we watch experts wire and prune trees and we copy them, we see wonderful trees in exhibitions and on websites and we create our own trees that mimic them. It can be easy to get so caught up in talking about the horticulture and craft of Bonsai that we forget to talk about about art, don't know the right words and concepts to be able to think and talk about it. We all have an instinctual appreciation of the artistic merit of great bonsai. We know a pleasingly-shaped tree when we see it, even if we can't say exactly what makes it so pleasing. Speaking as a creative and artistic person myself, I feel there is a great scope to expand the discussion of artistic principles in Bonsai, of aesthetics, of what makes something beautiful. I believe our judgement of beauty is in small part due to our culture and personal experiences, but in large part due to our shared biology, our evolution as a species in the natural world. Beauty can thus be talked about in objective terms, it is something we all have in common in our perceptual neurology. We can spot patterns in what makes some trees more beautiful than others, and by abstracting these patterns we can derive some principles of beauty that can we can use as tools to more easily create other beautiful trees.

Bonsai could be described as abstract sculptures of trees in miniature, using living plants as the medium. The appreciation of Bonsai is closely related to the appreciation of many other art forms, for example landscape paintings. We can take many of the artistic principles established in these other art forms and usefully apply them to Bonsai.