All You Need to Know About Bonsai Training Pots


This video is about bonsai pots it’s a subject which is very dear to my heart and as I explained and talk about the pots you realize why it is such an important facet of this very interesting subject as most of you will know that bonsai Israeli the two words bond and sigh and it simply means a pot and a tree but most of you will also know that simply having a tree in a pot does not make upon Sun to take this for instance this little juniper is in a flower pot but it’s not quite a bonsai yet because it’s not in a proper bonsai pot it’s only when the field starts getting put in a nice ceramic pot or a contemporary pot like this or a beautiful juniper like this that you realize that the tree and the pot are one entity there to go to their Ganner so bonsai or the tree in a pot simply means the entire composition of tree in a pot makes the work of art so we will explain to you why the pot is such an integral and important part of bonsai this is a view of our pot shop at herons bonsai and as you can see it’s a huge array of pots all different types of pots ranging from the Japanese token ami and yama iki parts British ports and teak Japanese ports Chinese ports plastic pots and a variety of other pots now the history of SCI is inextricably tied in with the history of Chinese ceramics and Chinese horticulture I think in these Song Dynasty and maybe even earlier we could even go as far back as two thousand years ago the Chinese were making high fired ceramics ceramics is pottery clay which is fired anything over nine hundred to about twelve hundred degrees centigrade when it is around nine hundred thousand it’s called earthenware and when it is fired over eleven or twelve hundred it becomes stoneware and then porcelain is fired even higher maybe even thirteen hundred degrees centigrade and from very early on maybe two thousand years ago the Chinese discovered that by firing ceramics to that high temperature they get these beautiful pots and containers and of course while making their ceramics they also made flower pots the Chinese have always been interested in plants and flowers those of you in the West who grow plants will know that anything with the botanical name with China ANSYS comes from China so camellias foresight iya all these beautiful plants and flowers originated in China and they’ve been bred for thousands of years presentiments is another example and when the Chinese discovered that putting plants in ceramic pots made both the plant and the pot more beautiful so the two fused together and hence the word bonsai or poon Choi and the Chinese called bonsai to enjoy or the cultivation of plants in pots so they are not just all replants in a flower pot but artistic plants in an artistic pot and that’s how the art of bonsai developed so that briefly is the history and story of bonsai pots and once I I’m now going to show you some very personal artifacts which are my own on site my journey in bonsai started in 1967 when I came to England in 1963 I didn’t have much time for pursuing these things because I was pursuing my engineering career but in 67 I suddenly got very interested interested in studio ceramics those of you who know the history of pop culture and modern art will know that London and the British art scene in the early and mid sixties was the be-all and end-all of all art all the great modern artists like Hockney and of course the Beatles in those days London scene was thriving with culture and art but although a lot of the art was modernistic there was another movement in art in ceramics which was called studio ceramics and that was really started by the great Bernard leach the Englishman who went to Japan and started the tradition of the Japanese ceramic culture so he came back to England and started his pottery enslaves and a lot of people were inspired by him but he was not the only famous artist there were other very modernist ceramic artists and I was very inspired by them so I started dabbling in ceramics these are the pieces that I made back in the 60s this believe it or not is my very first bonsai part in 1970 said 19 67 I started making pottery the cyst on my pottery and all I did was put this on a brick wrap some clay around it and hit it with a stick and there you are in those days I didn’t know anything about bonsai pots so you can see the inside is glazed and the drainage holes are very small and that was my very first part made in I think August 1967 when I got a bit more sophisticated this was a part I made probably a month later I slammed it cut slabs of clay the holes are still very small and of course if you look closely my seal is on all the pots so that’s another pot I made and as I progressed I started making pots like this so all these pots and I could also throw I was very good at throwing so this is a pot I used to throw these in one piece and this is a pot I probably made I think in 1974 of the robots and also in 1967 I was making a lot of contemporary pots and sculptured ceramics like this so these were my experiments with pots I was very good at throwing so this is pot as you can see the date is there 1980 this is my own saladin glaze so I was making a lot of bonsai pots and my first home was a balcony flat and of course everything I grew on the balcony flat had to be input so that’s what inspired me to make the bonsai pots had I not lived in a flat or an apartment I would never have gone into bonsai because I was forced to make pots to grow my plants so I grew plants in pots and I made bonsai pots of pots and resemble bonsai pots and grew plants in them so if you come to the nursery you still see a lot of my pots these are all the contemporary pots I used to make this is a very contemporary style pot which I made in 1967 so that was way ahead of its time so these are the pots I dabbled in and that is what took my journey into bonsai had I not started making ceramics and had I not lived in an apartment I would never have gone into bonsai so that’s the story of my bonsai journey there are four key criteria in choosing a pot and these are the size shape style and color as you can see the range of sizes is quite staggering look at this this pot is about 3 or 4 feet long I’ve got a pot which is 6 foot long a ceramic pot and then at the other extreme I have timber pots which I will show you in a minute so that speaks for service size so that you get big pots and small pots so obviously large pots are for large trees and then there’s the depth of the pot and then the style you have rectangular ovals deep Cascades circular pots so that is the shape and then of course the style you know some how ornate you know with beautiful rims some are playing and then of course the colors I know that most of the what you see here are unglazed pots but there are also colored pots and the colors usually are blue green brown cream and green but basically speaking the longest dimension which is the length of the pot I think would determine be determined by the height of the tree so every tree is say one meter tall then the biggest dimension which is the length of the pot should be about half a meter of maybe at most about 70 centimeters so we say half to two-thirds the total height of the tree but that’s only a rough rule of thumb you can break the rules because some of the literati trees the diameter of the pot is probably only 1/10 of the total so it depends on the style as well so there are many factors involved but basically speaking the ticket the trunk the deeper the pot you can use and the style rectangular pots which look rugged and chunky or fall very powerful looking tree I don’t want to be sexist but we call certain trees masculine or feminine so a very chunky rugged looking tree we call them masculine trees and the dainty pretty trees we call them feminine trees so the masculine trees are normally put in rectangular pots chunky heavy pots and delicate feminine trees are put in soft shallow over pots a circular pots so that’s another rough rule of thumb again remember it’s only a rule of thumb I mean you can’t use it as the be-all and end-all there are no hard and fast rules they’re just guidelines I don’t like to use the term rule because most of these things are guidelines and not only that I will show you when I show you the antique pots that a lot of these pots that have been used in the past were chosen from cultural context and styles change just as stars change in the clothes you wear so the pots have changed in fashion over the years so I will not show you some examples from books of the different styles of pots that have been used over the years and I will share some of the antique pots that we have because that will give you a very good insight into the history of the bonsai pots because bonsai is an art form and all living arts should evolve you will find that there are artists that have developed new concepts of pots these pots were made by a British Potter and these he called them the pepper pots and these were made back in I would say the mid 80s so they are already about 30 years old but for its time back in the mid eighties this was a very revolutionary concept of port so he made pots like this and one of my great friends mr. Dan Barton has made these very contempt but and they are for the small trees show him and mommy trees and other British bonsai artists have made pots of slightly different shape it may not be to everyone’s taste but at least they experimenting with different shapes and forms so as with all art forms it should evolve and the more dynamism there is in the development of pots the better it is for the art and as for materials I know that the traditional bonsai pots were made from hi-5 ceramics in modern-day times we have plastic pots as well I remember once coming across a lady from the UK who had lived in Japan for quite a few years and she used to boast that she knew everything about bonsai so when she came on the nursery she said to me why are you growing things in plastic bonsai pots so she said they never do that in Japan but when I took a close to the pot and turn the pot upside down it had printed underneath the pot made in Japan so she felt a bit sheepish that she was wrong so we were sure here these are beautiful beautiful plastic pots and pots these are made in Taiwan some are made in Korea so some very good not just for training but once the tree is in the pots they look so authentic that you can’t tell that they’re plastic pots we’re going to look at some of the pots that we use for many of the compositions we make on our nursery and you will see that we’ve used different pots for different situations this one for instance is a landscape scene so for the landscape we like to use an oval part so this oval part shows a tree very much an english-style broom style tree with a little little river flowing through an efficient there so this our landscape so we used a shallow oval pot that one there is a conventional single trunk informal upright tree we’ve used a deeper part because it had a big root ball it could have gone into a slightly shallower one but that’s okay now this is another English landscape and again because it’s a landscape we used a shallow pot but instead of a circular part we could have used not a circular pond we could have used an over part we’ve used a shallow rectangular pot with slightly curved edges so this is also suitable this would have been right in a very deep pot deep rectangular pot would not be right for that now this is another classic landscape and again because of the landscape a shallow oval suits this particular tree so does this and when it comes to flowering trees this is a apricot but this is really a training point it could have gone in a rectangular part that would have been quite nice when we come to reporting this tree we will probably put it in a rectangular port or even a slightly deeper over part would be nice this is another example of an interesting landscape it’s like a terrace paddy field and we’ve used a very very shallow rectangular pot because this is a landscape or a picture we always think of bonsai as a picture don’t think of a bonsai just as a tree in a pot it is really a picture if you think of a picture and the pot is the frame so the pot is really the picture frame for the composition you’re making so the picture frame can alter the feeling of the composition very much so if you choose the wrong pot you’ll get a different if the best analogy for a bonsai pot is really like the clothes that you wear just as the clothes can change the persona and the personality of a person so the bonsai pot can change the look of a tree of a bonsai and I started getting more involved with Banzai this is in the very early 1970s around 1972 or 73 I became so obsessed with pondside that I used to collect any and everything to do with bonsai so in those days in England there were a lot of antique shops and the antique shops used to sell quite a lot of Chinese ceramics and among the Chinese ceramics that they used to sell were these beautiful porcelain plant pots as you can see there are really beautiful pots high-five porcelain which must have been fired to about 1300 degrees centigrade in all sorts of sizes this is a small one this is a shallow one which is most unusual because in the nineteenth century and earlier most of the bonsai pots were deep pots like this if you look at pictures of old bonsai they were invariably planted in deep pots of this style this is a circular one and this is a typical pattern green cinnamon and this is an octagonal pot I’ve got a pot even larger than this but it’s too heavy to bring out and show you but I’ve got large ones and these are bought from the British antique shops of in the 1970s and this is another one which is blue which is a unusual color and there are more this is a I think this is Japanese with a pomegranate flower and it could be Chinese but I’m sure and these are those are a pair of Chinese bonsai pots with the apricot Prunus mume on this one and this one has got the cloud pattern and a dragon that is the same size and style is again high five porcelain pots these are all from the mid 19th century and of course among my collection of pots are these very small mummy pots which I collected on my trips to Japan and as you can see they are really beautiful dainty pots and they’ve all got a make a stamp on it so you get pots of different sizes so these are the small mommy parts or thimble parts because they’re like the thimble that you wear on a finger and then you get these very large pots there are also very collectible pots this one is an unusual Japanese pop I came across on one of my trips beautifully ornate beautifully marked so I collect a lot of the pots the beautiful parts I sell it for treating them because they are beautiful in their own right I would like to introduce you to two of my books which have quite a bit of information on the choice of bonsai pots for particular trees now some of you will know that bonsai master class is one of my favorite books this was written in 1986 or 87 and it is still a very popular book I still get a lot of fan mail from people all over the world about this book I mean this book once I master class if I refer you to some of the pictures Feder if you go through the book you would see that there are examples these prints are actual Japanese prints of famous trees you can see in this particular print that they’ve used quite a deep pot here for a landscape and this is a woodcut of Hiro sugar so that’s a famous print and then there are more examples of prints again in all deep post we will show close-up of this to show you the detail so in the olden days in the 18th and 19th century parts of this style were used and I’m sure if you would research some of the your Chinese manuals and even the Japanese manuals you will find that there are quite a few examples of these bonsai pots which are deep but no longer fashionable today from the same book once a master class the best guide I can offer you and this will be shown in detail in this YouTube video on page 18 and 19 there is a whole table showing the different styles of trees and the pots that will be suitable for it and if you care to go through it you will find this very informative also in my other book which some of you may have come across bonsai secrets this was written I think in 2002 in this book on page receive paid fifty five fifty five it shows the different styles of trees and the pots that can go into them also in page fifty six so I would suggest you look at it time we were a home in on this page so you can get a better view of the types of pots that can go with particular styles of trees but having said that one should remember that the choice of pots is very much influenced by the culture and the time when people were growing trees I noticed that there is a distinct difference between Japanese style bonsai and the Fortson size they use and Chinese style bonsai this is cos is a very famous Japanese bonsai commemorative manual which I think was produced in 1964 perhaps I’m not sure but it dates for that time and it’s a beautiful volume if you care to go through this book you will see that the pot stars are beginning to change from the late I would say 19th and early 20th century but the point I would like to make is that most of the Japanese bonsai artists to my mind they tend to under plot that trees so this tree of a Chinese quince it seems a rather large tree and the pot I would say is a bit small but to the Japanese masters is completely appropriate so I would say there’s no hard and fast rule as to who’s right and who’s wrong but it just shows that different cultures and different people have different conceptions of size and style of pot if we look at some of the Chinese a bonsai or the Ginga pengie this is a commemorative book or ching chong bonsai this is a book I helped to compile this was produced in 1990 and I wrote the foreword for this book you will see I wrote the foreword for this book here and this is the collection of the green pine monastery in Hong Kong where this grandfather house was a very great friend of mine and who was the abbot of the monastery he had a vast collection of bonsai his hobby was to grow bonsai and even in 1990 Chinese bonsai wasn’t that popular in the West because most people were only informed about Japanese bonsai but if you look at the Chinese styles that puts and the sizes are quite different from what the Japanese used so if you look at the different styles of bonsai different books like the Chinese books and the Japanese books you would see that they are quite quite different so don’t be too obsessed by what is right and what is wrong so there are different points of view I still think that the Chinese tend to put their parts in much larger sizes than the Japanese bonsai if we can look at some of these other books this is again a Chinese bonsai manual you have to look at some of these compositions I’ve just flicked open this page and look at that beautiful tree here on the left hand side now that’s a beautiful pot but if it was a Japanese bonsai they would put it in a much smaller pot but here we find that this pot is quite big but it’s absolutely appropriate so it just shows that there are only rough guidelines and it mustn’t be considered gospel that only one thing is correct and everything else is wrong I collect quite a lot of bonsai antiquities and this is a Japanese photograph taken I think in the 1910 or 1920 s which I came across in one of these London antique shops it shows these lovely Japanese ladies but if we homed in on this you’ll see that there are a lot of bonsai in this corner and if you home in on this you will see that a lot of the bonsai here are in deep pots like the ones I showed you earlier so it just shows that as recent as the 1920s and 30s most of the bonsai that were grown in Japan were used in these deep containers as you can see the choice of pots can be quite bewildering but just standing in one tiny corner of my nursery just our Juniper collection you can see the different types of pots that I use this is a very tall inform what by tree with a plenty of driftwood and then we use the drum pot because it’s more or less like a literati style and it’s quite deep because I need to keep the tree healthy so I’ve kept it quite deep if I went too shallow I might have got away with it but it may not have been quite right or it may not be good for the health of the tree so that is one example now that tree with the driftwood is in a circular port that could have gone into a rectangular pot now this is a very good example classic juniper twisted trunk it shows a beautiful token army pot and that pot is quite appropriate but then the same style of tree I’ve used a drum pot and in case you think it’s a ceramic pot no it’s not a ceramic pot it is what we call a mica pot which is a dense polypropylene pot so it’s a beautiful pot but it’s not ceramic and then there’s another very contemporary pot see this is what we call a primitive pot primitive pot just shows is not absolutely symmetrical but for that we’re looking tree that primitive pot is appropriate I think it’s a bit under potted I would say the pot could be slightly larger but that’s a matter of opinion now this is another example of an under potted tree this has come from Japan like this but I would say the pot is slightly small you can get away with it but I would have preferred it to be a little bit longer depth of the pot is determined largely by the thickness of the trunk so if you look at that tree that thickness of trunk and that depth of pot that would be absolutely right also very large rugged-looking tree it hasn’t been pruned yet so that rugged-looking tree rectangular part suits it literati trees we use our literal teapots she is about five foot in length and the trunk must be at least 30 to 40 centimeter in diameter at the base and I put it in a deep pot because anything shallower would not be good for the health of the tree I hope you’ve enjoyed this video so be bold in how you choose your pots and enjoy your bonsai [Music] you

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