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Miniature Japanese Gardens
First of all, here are the instructions for creating the most basic of bonsai landscapes composed of a single seedling, moss and ornamental sand. Regardless of the type of bonsai landscape you’re making, this is the basic method, so make sure to master it. Here, we will make a bonsai landscape with a single tree using a Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia Jacq.) and Leucobryum juniperoideum.

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© 2019 Kenji Kobayashi / Tuttle Publishing · Reproduced with permission.
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  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 1
    Step 1

    Place a net over the hole in the base of the pot and secure it with aluminum wire, then use the scoop to pour in stones to line the base (large grain Fuji sand).

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 2
    Step 2

    Use the scoop to add compost until the base stones are concealed.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 3
    Step 3

    Use pruning scissors to trim off old or damaged leaves. Check that there are no insects on the backs of the leaves.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 4
    Step 4

    Use the tips of your tweezers to brush off the soil around the roots a little at a time.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 5
    Step 5

    Draw out the roots and use scissors to trim the ends, adjusting the size of the upper section.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 6
    Step 6

    Hold the seedling in the pot and use a scoop to pour soil in.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 7
    Step 7

    Use a chopstick to work the soil into gaps around the roots, packing it in firmly.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 8
    Step 8

    Press the soil with a small spatula to release any air inside and make the soil more compact.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 9
    Step 9

    Spray the soil 3–5 times with an atomizer to firm it, making sure the water is absorbed.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 10
    Step 10

    Place a large piece of moss on the desired spot.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 11
    Step 11

    Using a chopstick at the edge of the moss to hold it in place, press the moss firmly into the soil.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 12
    Step 12

    Work in the same way to add more moss, taking care to make it look as if it’s spreading naturally.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 13
    Step 13

    Use a scoop to add in ornamental gravel (Maifan stones) over areas where the soil is visible.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 14
    Step 14

    Use a spatula to level the ornamental gravel and make it neater

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 15
    Step 15

    Complete by spraying it all over with an atomizer.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 16
    Step 16

    A North American River Landscape

    SCENERY FOR INSPIRATION
    The majestic scenery of the US state of Oregon, with its backdrop of the Rocky Mountain range, formed the inspiration for this work. To express the dynamism of the landscape, Japanese cy­presses ( Chamaecyparis obtusa) are planted in a group, forming a forest of needle-leaved trees. Moss is used to create deli-cate undulations, while Ibigawa stones are placed to recall the tempestuous cliffs through which huge rivers run.
    COMPOSITION
    First of all, create a large mountain on a shallow stone plate. Group several Japanese cypress together (five were used in this work), with one large tree, two small ones and two of a size in-between to create differences in height. If there is a tree lacking in branches, plant oth­ers in front, to the left, right and back of it to compensate and achieve the appearance of a forest. Planting trees from the mountain summit towards the back of the arrangement gives the impression that the forest continues.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 17
    Step 17

    A Swiftly Flowing River

    SCENERY FOR INSPIRATION
    This work depicts a riverbank lined with ferns and swiftly­flowing water. Three types of fern are made to resemble river­side grasses, while super fine white sand is used to depict the surface foam that results from the rushing water. The texture of the shallow stone plate emphasizes the profundity of nature.
    COMPOSITION
    Three types of fern-Woodsia polystichoides Eaton, Asplenium tricho­manes and Selaginel!a moel!endorffii-are used here, with height dif­ferences utilized to create overall balance. Soldanel!a alpine is planted to the side to resemble Japanese silver leaf (Fargugium japonicum) and evoke the textures of plants which grow naturally by the water. Rust­colored boulder-style rocks have been selected for the character they add to the piece, with the moss growing over their rounded, water-worn surface telling of the landscape's age.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 18
    Step 18

    A Bamboo Forest Path Leading to a Temple

    SCENERY FOR INSPIRATION
    Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) stands in for bamboo in this ar­rangement depicting a path in a bamboo forest in the grounds of an ancient city's temple. The rounded, gently sloping hills of moss are intended to create the impression of stepping into a fairytale world.

    COMPOSITION
    In a rectangular tin pot, form mountains of varying sizes, using clay soil to create a framework with undulations and a compost in which to plant the horsetail. The mountains should be slightly triangular in shape, while the horsetail should fan out a little to give the impres­sion of an expanse of space and create an attractive appearance. Use rust-colored gravel as ornamental sand to form a path.

  • How to plant a plant / a flower / a tree. Basic Bonsai Landscape Techniques - Step 19
    Step 19

    A Hilly Promontory with Sea Breezes

    SCENERY FOR INSPIRATION
    This piece shows the scenery of gently sloping hills extending over a promontory. The Ezo spruce trees (Picea jezoensis) are planted to all slant the same way to indicate the strength of the sea breeze, with the scraggy Ibigawa stones representing cliffs and white ornamental sand for the sea.
    COMPOSITION
    Use clay soil to form a framework, then pour in compost to form mountains of various sizes. Plant five Ezo spruces together to form the composition, with three on the large mountain and two on the small mountain to create variation in height. Create a path between the large and small mountains with the air of a pleasant walking trail. Position lbigawa stones of various sizes in the composition and cover them with Leucobryum juniperoideum.

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