Shopping Cart
9.95 Flat Rate Shipping and Free Shipping on Orders $150.00+ for Continental US

Elements of a Bonsai Forest


pall11I stumbled across this European hornbeam (Carpinus betulas) by Walter Pall on his Bonsai Adventures blog. The shot looks like spring with some trees lagging behind others

Following up on yesterday’s forest post, here’s one that originally appeared here in 2014. I think it’s one of our best on forests and worth another look

Focal point. Without the dominant tree this forest planting by Walter Pall would be a lot less interesting. With the dominant tree contrasted with rest of the trees, the planting has a focal point. With that focal point  to organize around, balance, scale, a feeling of age and that more elusive quality we call interest, are easier to establish
Continued below… 

pall21Same forest. Same time. Different backdrop. Walter usually shoots his trees with two or three different backdops.

Continued from above…
Balance. If you look at the silhouette of the whole planting you’ll immediately see how everything flows from the dominant tree, creating an overall sense of balance and harmony. This has a lot to do with the natural strength and dynamism of scalene triangles and something called The Golden Mean or Golden Ratio (Magic Thirds)

Scale. Notice how the large tree is in the front. Not only does this show off its size and power, it also highlights a sense of depth when contrasted with the medium sized trees in the center axis (left to right) and the smaller trees in the back. Rather than seeing these trees as smaller as they go back, we tend to see them as further away.
Continued below…


Contrasting these two shots provides a pretty good idea of how different backdrops effect our perception

Continued from above…
Age. When it comes to age, there are two types of natural forests: ones where all the trees are more or less the same age and size (for example a stand of trees that grew up after a forest fire) and an old forests with trees that show a mix of ages and sizes

This planting is a good example of the latter, with the main tree emphasizing and even exaggerating the contrast. You might even imagine that at one time the dominant tree stood alone and seeded the others
Continued below…


Same planting, fall foliage. You can see how the individual trees turn and drop on different schedules

Continued from above…
Walter Pall often shows several photos of the the same bonsai with different backdrops and at different times. I think this is a good idea, especially given that no single photo  can completely capture the power and dynamism of a good bonsai

pall4One of the rewards of cold hardy bonsai


Older Post Newer Post