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A bonsai display presents one or more bonsai specimens in a way that allows a viewer to see all the important features of the bonsai from the most advantageous position. That position emphasizes the bonsai's defined "front", which is designed into all bonsai. It places the bonsai at a height that allows the viewer to imagine the bonsai as a full size tree seen from a distance, siting the bonsai neither so low that the viewer appears to be hovering in the sky above it nor so high that the viewer appears to be looking up at the tree from beneath the ground.
Noted bonsai writer Peter Adams recommends that bonsai be shown as if "in an art gallery: at the right height; in isolation; against a plain background, devoid of all redundancies such as labels and vulgar little accessories."
Indoors, a formal bonsai display is arranged to represent a landscape, and traditionally consists of the featured bonsai tree in an appropriate pot atop a wooden stand, along with a shitakusa (companion plant) representing the foreground, and a hanging scroll representing the background. These three elements are chosen to complement each other and evoke a particular season, and are composed asymmetrically to mimic nature.
When displayed inside a traditional Japanese home, a formal bonsai display will often be placed within the home's tokonoma or formal display alcove. An indoor display is usually very temporary, lasting a day or two, as some bonsai are intolerant of indoor conditions and lose vigor rapidly within the house.
Saikei allows multiple species of tree to be placed in a single landscape, and allows other plant forms like flowers and grasses to be included. Usually, multiple plantings in bonsai are typically a single species of tree with moss alone allowed as additional vegetation. Because of this flexibility in plant materials, saikei can be designed to show the progress of the seasons in much greater variety and detail than can a mono culture bonsai planting.
Aesthetically pleasant reference to the seasons is an important tradition in Japanese gardens, and a saikei display can be much more garden like than a typical bonsai display. Deciduous and flowering trees, which change through the growing season, can be mixed with conifers that will remain green all winter. Spring leaves and flowers, summer fruit, autumn coloration and leaf fall, and the contrast of bare branched deciduous trees with snow covered evergreens can represent the annual cycle of an entire garden in the space of a tea table.
One item that can either add to your display or can make it an eyesore is the use of moss. Using moss can turn your design into a beautiful display that has that extra something that puts it over the top. On the other hand, if you use it in a way that is distracting to your tree it can turn into a disaster. Using just the right amount of moss is the answer to this dillemia. After all, you simply want the moss to add to your bonsai display, not distract from it. Simple rule of thumb to remember is that the moss is an accent to the tree. The bonsai tree is the main focus.
News About Bonsai Displays
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Bonsai artists, vendors from 7 states display their trees - Independent Tribune
Bonsai exhibition on this weekend - Gladstone Observer
Beautiful array of bonsai at local club's show - Talk of the Town (press release)
World class bonsai exhibition coming to Kannapolis this weekend - WBTV
53-year-old bonsai tree among attractions at Krushi Siri - The Hindu
Andhra Pradesh: 6000 varieties of rose plants to be displayed in Rose festival - Deccan Chronicle