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Bonsai literally means a tree on a tray: "bon" is a tray-like container, and "sai" means tree. As we all know, bonsai is a product of a variety of techniques which let a full grown tree thrive in a small container. The tree looks like a miniature version of how the tree species looks in nature, only with artistic additions that make it seem more poetic than a specimen in the wild.
This means that a bonsai is not merely a piece of horticulture. It is horticulture that is refined to the level of an art form.
While a bonsai needs the same ingredients as other trees and plants, like land, fertilizers, water and sunlight, it is the way these are administered to the bonsai that makes it a special form of horticulture. All these essential requirements are provided in order to make the bonsai tree take exactly the desired shape and size, leading experts to comment that bonsais are more art than horticulture.
They could be kept indoors or outdoors depending on the tree species, but it is the shape of a bonsai tree that determines the type to which it belongs. Bonsais are traditionally created in the following different shapes:
Cascade-full (Kengai): In this type of bonsai, the branches as well as the trunk of the tree are deliberately swept over to a particular side of the container and allowed to hang below the roots. It is designed to look like a tree growing at the edge of a cliff, buffeted by strong winds.
Clump (Kadudachi). In this variation of the bonsai, there are several trunks emerging from the same point in the clump of roots, giving it a look of overcrowded natural growth that can be found in forests.
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