Bonsai is a traditional art form that originated in Japan and China, in which a living tree is shaped by the gardener to form a miniature landscape. The aim of bonsai is to create an impression of serenity and harmony with nature in even the smallest home, or the most crowded urban environment.
There are certain traditions and formal classifications, based on properties like overall height or the line of angle from the trunk, that have emerged during the history of bonsai despite variations of stylistic preferences.
For example, a straight upright trunk is required for the Formal Upright style, a slanting trunk for the slanting style, and a slight slant or a curve for the Informal Upright style. A Semi Cascade style tree has a trunk that grows upwards and then curves down as well, while a Cascade style tree has a trunk that curves downwards more dramatically.
The tree trunk should ideally grow to a height of around six times the width of its base, with a tapering trunk to create an illusion of perspective. Bonsai plantings will typically include an odd number of trees, and overall shapes are appreciated for the sense of asymmetrical balance they create.
Listings of bonsai trees for sale will typically list a standard size category. These range from miniature, at under six inches tall, to the largest category, which begins at 24 inches tall.
The texture of the bark on the trunk is also important, as an appearance of age and weathering is prized in bonsai specimens. Some bonsai gardeners like to create scarred or stripped areas on the trunk to create an appearance of storm damage or weathering.
The color of leaves and bark will largely be determined by the species of tree, as well as the color of blossoms if it is a flowering bonsai tree. Typically, bonsai kits will include a pot, but you may want to upgrade this if you find another pot whose color and appearance harmonize with your tree better.
In the end, the true art of bonsai is to combine all these natural and artistic elements to create an impression of natural beauty and serenity as a unified effect.