Our guest presenter for the Monday meeting was Tien from Bonsai Sensation together with a cameo appearance from Victor to talk about the Bunjin style. Tien’s task for the night was to take a well developed Black Pine and move it towards a Bunjin style.
Tien talked about the features of the tree and how they guided their thinking towards a Bunjin style which is illustrated in the following sketch. The great trunk line and nice bark are very important in this tree.
Below are several photos showing the styling adjustments and the final outcome for the night. One major branch has not been jinned at this stage as a cautious approach towards the final design. Also, remaining branches and foliage will need further development and refinement.
During the course of the re-styling, Tien also shared many of his ideas about growing bonsai.
- Ensure the branches you develop are sustainable.
- Tien prefers to see the trunk and branches.
- When developing pines, keep the tree growth compact while letting a lower branch leader run to develop better nebari. Time in the ground can assist and ultimately the leader is removed. See the examples below.
- Take advantage of back budding to develop compact growth.
- Tien doesn’t like the rounded apex for older trees as the growth can lead to thicker branches which detracts from the tree design and ultimately will need to be cut off and started again. Trimming back and replacing with new growth is the preferred option.
Victor talked about the history of the Bunjin or Literati style and how it developed many years ago. Characteristics include a three-dimensional and asymmetrical form leading to a tall, elegant and slender tree. The pot needs to be understated so it doesn’t distract from the trunk line. Prominent nebari is not required as the emphasis is on the trunk and its quality, texture and line. Branches should be few in number and usually short in proportion to the height of the tree. Foliage tends to be sparse.