Jin – these are dead branches (usually intentionally killed) that have had the bark removed. This deadwood simulates an aged tree that has had to struggle against the elements.
Shari – bark from a portion of a branch or the trunk is stripped. Like jins, this deadwood helps give the impression of an aged tree.
Nebari – the exposed roots of a tree.
Shin – the portion of the rootball beneath the trunk. When a tree begins being trained for bonsai it is often repotted leaving the shin untouched. This puts less stress on the replanted tree and speeds recover. For the second re-potting this section will be cleaned out while the outer section is disturbed as little as possible.
Shohin – a smaller bonsai, usually no more than 8-10″ tall.
Movement – this refers to changes in direction in a trunk or branch… waviness if you will.
Formal Upright – a tree with a nearly straight trunk where the apex (top) is directly over the roots.
Semi-formal Upright – a tree with movement in the trunk but the apex is still over or nearly over the roots.
Slanting – a tree that leans heavily to one side; the apex is not over the roots.
Semi-cascade – a tree with a drastic lean or downward growth where up to half the foliage is below the soil line.
Cascade – a tree with an even more drastic lean or downward growth where all or nearly all the foliage is below the soil line.
Caliper – the diameter, or width, of the trunk. Usually measured about an inch above the surface of the soil.
Training Pot – a relatively large bonsai pot that is also deeper than it would normally be. The rootball of a tree is often gradually reduced instead of being cut down all at once. This puts less stress on the tree. A tree trained like this might go from a nursery pot to a training pot for a few years and then put into a bonsai pot. Training pots are often made from mica or plastic instead of being ceramic.
Cut-down Nursery Pot – this is a regular black plastic pot like you’d see in a garden center. The rootball of the plant is reduced and rather than being transplanted into a bonsai training pot the tree’s previous pot is simply cut shorter to accommodate the new size. This is common with pre-bonsai plants that are just starting to be trained as bonsai.
Nursery Soil – a catchall phrase used to describe the soil a plant comes in when purchased from a nursery. It is usually a mixture of bark, sand, and other material making for a fairly well-draining planting medium.
Bonsai Soil – a “soiless” mix of various materials usually primarily crushed stone or clay. Here at Black River Bonsai we try to note what type of bonsai soil is used for each tree. Some common examples are lava rock, pumice, akadama (a type of volcanic clay), and diatomaceous earth (DE).