Hi everybody,

I wanted to tackle the subject of downsizing the image of a full size tree into a compact miniature version. Off course Bonsai is not the simple copying of trees from nature, but to understand how it works can help you to realize your own ideas.

After surging the web, I have found a wonderful silhouette image of a tree to use as a example.


The above silhouette gives use  enough info we need to recognize what it is. Even with out the wooden bench under need it we can figure out how tall, big and fare away from use this tree is. So if we use these same  features that give use all that info in our Bonsai, we will ad least end up with the right proportion in our tree. And that is not a bad start, believe me!


So here is the silhouette of this tree more clearer to see. I have removed the two small branches that were growing  low on the trunk, to make things clearer to see. And wile I was at it, I planted the tree into a Bonsai pot. Looks good all ready doesn’t it?


The yellow dots show the outlines of the frame/skeleton of this tree. This design as Bonsai would be about 20 inch/50 cm high and material with a trunk and branches like this can be easily purchased from any Bonsai dealer that imports Acer palmatums or Ulmus.

But the foliage you see here would be hard to archive with the to large foliage of most deciduous species we could use to create this image with as a  Bonsai. So we should divide  the messy foliage into more compact and well outlined foliage pads. Doing this, we will create more open spaces, that clearly open up the foliage pads from each other.


Here I created some clearer open spaces between the foliage layers. It is the same image, but this time it is doable to shape it as a Bonsai. In principle you only have to fill those outlined foliage pads with the larger leaves of the species you use to creat this image.



Here I filled them with the foliage I borrowed from  my own Carpinus betulus with exactly the same size as this imaginary Bonsai. So the the size of this foliage in comparison to the trunk and height are accurate. Would be doable and believable as a Bonsai.


Here I filled them with the foliage of my Acer palmatum. Again the size of the foliage is accurate. So again, doable and believable!

Even though the leaves are monsteresly big in comparison to the tree image we have created, the outlines of the trunk, branches and foliage pads are correct, making it a believable image that remind us of the trees we see in nature. Just like the painter, that only uses a few brush strokes to paint the foliage of a large branch, we some times only use a few leaves to creat all the foliage of a large branch.

More tomorrow, I realy have to get some sleep now! 🙂

Thanks for listening again,

Hans van Meer.


Posted in MY WORK | 6 Comments

6 Responses to A ROCK PLANTING THAT SHOWS IT ALL! (day 3)

  1. Tom Kruegl says:

    Am I correct in assuming the trunk is about 3 1/4 inches in diameter?


  2. Hi Tom,
    how did you get to that diameter? I used the height of 25inch/50 cm for this tree as a example, becouse that is more or less a often used height for deciduous Bonsai. And in this height, with this trunk/branch diameter it is possible to find several species that fits this descriptions. Just like the two of my own Bonsai I was going to use the foliage from. They are about that same height as the imaginary Bonsai. So I had a image of the sillouette and one of my own Bonsai next to each other, both the same size. And than I cut and pasted the foliage on to the sillouette. So the foliage you see on the end result is more or less the right size. Off course all this is just used as a example and no exact science, I mist most off those classes! 🙂 And this is not realy about how to style a Bonsai, it is more meant to show the possibilities and importance of open spaces in Bonsai design.
    I hope this answers your question?

  3. Tom Kruegl says:

    ha ha! 20 inches high divided by 6 = 3 1/4 “.
    John Naka’s ratio of trunk diameter to tree height. I was just wondering.


  4. Tom Kruegl says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off course.


  5. Hi Tom,
    OK, now I understand how you got to those numbers HAHA 🙂 I dont want to argue with John Naka, but with those ratecios it would be hard to creat a slender deciduous tree like I use in this example. I believe it is better to rely on your feelings and eyes, than to use golden rules in designing a Bonsai. Because they only work in a perfect world and even then you would end up wih a lot of Bonsai that all have the same measurements. But thanks for the input!

  6. Tom Kruegl says:

    The reason I asked is I am just learning how to create a bonsai from garden center material. Not having your natural ability to “see” a potential bonsai in rough material, I have to use some basic rules of thumb for now. I am studying the work of those who i think are the best; Naka, Pall, VanMeer. Not necessarily in that order! HAHAHA!


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