Eighteen inches, give or take, counts for a lot at Bay Island Bonsai exhibits. Generally, trees between 8″ and 18″ tall are considered medium bonsai and are exhibited in “three-point displays” – displays with two trees and one accent plant.
Composing these displays requires care. If you haven’t set up a medium display before, imagine the following. First, find a show pot for your favorite chuhin (12″-18″) or kifu (8″-12″) sized bonsai. Then find a stand for the tree. Then try to locate a second tree that compliments the first. Conifers or evergreen broadleaf, for example, complement deciduous trees well. Try to ensure that the second tree is somewhat larger or smaller than the first – displaying two trees that are the same size can look funny. Next, find a show pot and stand for the second tree. Add one small accent plant with stand.
With the proper elements at hand, the trick becomes arranging them in an acceptable fashion. The trees should either point to each other, or both should point to the accent. One tree should be closer to the back of the table, the other toward the front.
It’s quite a puzzle, all told. When done well, the results are beautiful and balanced. Here are a few of the three-point displays shown at Bay Island Bonsai’s recent exhibit.
Shimpaku and potentilla
Japanese flowering quince ‘chojubai’ and sawara cypress
Japanese red pine and olive
Weeping cherry and hinoki
Japanese five-needle pine and weeping cherry
Corkbark elm and shimpaku
Trident maple and Japanese black pine
Sierra juniper and olive
Corkbark elm and procumbens juniper
Root over rock Japanese maple and accent
Japanese beech and California juniper
Flowering plum and Japanese black pine
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