One page of a sixteen page article on refining branches, from Bonsai Today issue 13 (long out of print, but we’ve bought back a few old issues and are offering them at antique prices at Stone Lantern).
Do you really care about refining bonsai?
Years ago I heard an old Japanese master say that the primary difference between Japanese and Western bonsai is refinement. I concur; at the time, most Westerners we not taking the time and trouble to develop fine branching (and other things) to the extent that the Japanese were.
Now, though much has changed and Western bonsai is alive with creative energy, I think the willingness to do the tedious and time consuming work of refining branches is still, for the most part, lacking. I’m basing this mostly on my facebook and other web experience. More and more photos of bonsai are being posted. Some are excellent but precious few show that fine filigreed branching that you see on so many Japanese bonsai.
An excellent example of a bonsai with fine, filigreed branching. It’s from a flyer from the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. Unfortunately, neither the tree nor the artist is identified. My best guess is that it’s a Chinese elm and it was donated by a Japanese artist, though I could be wrong on both accounts.