Shohin are the subset of bonsai that are no more than 20 cm tall from the lip of the pot to the top tree. Most of the techniques used are similar to those used for their larger cousins. Still it requires an extra degree of care to maintain the tree at this size.
How to begin?
Here is the final product ready for growing out. The new growth will thicken the branches to add a look of age to the tree. Branches will also send out new side shoots to be selected and wired as secondary branches to begin the ramification process to create the shape of each branch and the tree.
When the tree has neared its final form, it will be repotted into a smaller pot.
This boxwood was obtained from a club meeting raffle. Notice that the original owner has done some trimming of the plant and started wiring branches. What was the original vision for this tree?
After many evaluation sessions with other bonsai people I decided to cut this tree all the way down to the size of a shohin, certainly not the vision of the original owner.
The final tree was formed by converting the top of the tree to deadwood and keeping only the lowest right hand branch. That branch was trained into the complete remaining tree structure.
What do you look for in a trunk and branch structure?
This is a Shohin bougainvillea shown in early May. It is just beginning to bud. As the season progresses it will get bright red flowers followed by dark green leaves. But right now is the perfect time to examine its underlying structure. The tree is about 20 years old. It is placed in the pot to highlight the deep opening in the trunk which makes it look much older. Look at the strong thrust of the major branches symmetrically out to the left and the right. This symmetry is broken by training the branches to all grow back to the left at nearly the same angle. Notice that the tree is not quite centered in the pot. The longer arm reaches out to the right. Therefore, the tree is planted slightly to the left of center in the pot to maintain the overall balance. This is an example of training a tree for symmetry and then breaking that symmetry to provide visual interest to the eye.
In the time it has taken to assemble our Spring Show, this little shohin has started putting on a show of its own. Perhaps to remind us that spring is here. Or maybe to keep us humble. Though we may labor over our art, in the end it is nature that provides the show.
Thank you for looking behind our curtain. We hope this peek has given you additional appreciation for small things.