Maidstone Bonsai Society

Japanese Trees in the Garden of England

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Choosing the Bon for the Sai

It’s always a challenge when someone asks you to make a pot for their tree. Firstly there is choosing the right type an style of pot and then there is choosing to glaze or to remain unglazed. By and large glazed pots are used for deciduous trees and unglazed used for coniferous, there is always some slight deviation but this is pretty much the rule of thumb. Regarding the size of the pot, the depth should be approx the same width as the base of the tree (nebari) with the width of the pot just being smaller than the overall canopy size of the tree. However this all goes out of the window when the tree is semi or full cascade!

The next hurdle to navigate through, once all the above has been negotiated, is the customers tastes. The customer will have in mind what they want and the potter will then have to guide the customer through a selection process do they both agree on what the customer likes and what the potter can, and is willing to, make. When this had been established then the customer will have an image in their head of what the finished pot will look like and the potter will have his image. Now whenever you engage an artist into making a bespoke piece if art there is a certain element of artistic licence that is involved and sometimes this is employed and sometime not. So taking into account all of the above a pot is usually produced and then there comes the matching of the pot to the tree. If the potter has got it right and has interpreted the image in the tree owners head then all well and good but this is usually a tricky area as the potter usually hears one of the following…

” It’s a little to small/big”
“The glaze is slightly the wrong shade of ****”
“It not quite what I had in mind”

…or various versions of the above.

So you can see making a pot for a tree is not an easy path to tread and fraught with several hurdles and obstacles to navigate and negotiate. I know some potters who make what they make and do not do any commissions at all as this negotiating and discussion period with the customer is as frustrating as it is fun. So if you do ever commission a potter to make a pot for your tree try and think of the path this task will take and if the potter and the tree owner are in tune they can be successful and create the perfect image. After all the pot is 50% of the image and the Bon for the Sai each without the other will not work so like a good marriage, understanding, patience and harmony are the order of the day. Sometimes you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and stumble across the right pot for your tree and it’s instant perfection incarnate

Some of the readers may know this next tree that belongs to a club member who asked me to come up with a pot suggestion. I always do a virtual potting first to see what the image can look like. Not only may you stumble across a style or pot you have never considered it gives you the benefit of potting the tree without getting your hands dirty. Here are my suggestions, what if any do you like, I have my favourite but I am not letting on. The Virtual’s are a mix of Japanese pots and my pots.