Ugly vs. Pretty Styling

Michael Hagedorn

For any styling it’s good to ask: Do we leave it rough, or do we polish it off to as crystalized an image as we can? And the answer usually is, as with many things in bonsai, it depends.

When is leaving a mess appropriate?

  • With very aggressive work, with large branches and even trunks moved and a lot of tissue damage, there are benefits to just doing the big bends or cuts the first day and leaving it for a season, for vascular damage to mend or be rerouted and for forward momentum to be seen once more. When in doubt there is nothing wrong with this slower method.

When is primping indicated?

  • Often, particularly with optimum aftercare in a humid greenhouse, a full on initial styling is easily possible down to the shoot tips. The majority of raw conifer styling work shown on my Portfolio page was done in one…

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