Tray landscapes are amongst the oldest forms of bonsai in China, Japan and Hawaii. Each is similar in many aspects but different and distinctive, too. Japan's tray landscapes are often patterned after the classical "bonkei" tray landscapes made up of muck, rock hills, sand and tiny plants. These were meant to be for temporary display. After World War II, Toshio Kawamoto coined "saikei" as another form of tray landscape that utilized a more sophisticated set of principles. Chinese landscapes fall into two general types: 1) Panoramic-type landscapes utilizing very small plants to have a vast scale. And, 2) those that utilize rocks that have cut bases, shallow marble display trays that have built-up planting media and small and medium size trees.
- "ENCHANTED ISLAND" . . . a horizontal panoramic penjing
A single rock measuring about 22" long x 11" wide x about 10" high resembling an island. A colored concrete pad was made on a piece of aluminum foil, the rock positioned on it, and the concrete formed to create an irregular "shoreline." The overhanging parts of the rock formed caves. Dwarf compact Serrissa and mosses are used.
The other side is also interesting with caves and ledges. The rectangular white Chinese marble base measures 39 1/4" long x 15 3/4" wide x 1 1/2" high. Note that the same display stand is used but that the two sides feature different designs. The stand was hand-carved at Fuku-Bonsai from a single piece of Redwood. Chinese marble bases have a solid bottom with the groove to create the appearance of feet going into the marble just an inch or two. The wood display stand is carved in the same way. You can see only one side at a time and so you can have two different designs and a more versatile stand.
Chinese penjing panoramic landscapes range from horizontal with long, low profile or tall, narrow cliffs. Although China is a large country, it has a huge population and most of the country is densely populated with few "natural" areas. It is, therefore, very natural for the Chinese to include ornaments that depict human presence in their landscapes.
"CLIFF FANTASY" . . . a vertical landscape scene in the Chinese penjing manner
|This type of landscape is amongst the easiest to create if you have the right kind of rocks. Four flat plate-like rocks were used and locked into a common colored concrete base. The main two rocks were about 1" wide and set 1" apart and parallel to each other. The rocks were taped together with crumpled paper between to keep them positioned while the concrete cured. The smaller rocks were placed one on each side and a bit away and still parallel. This view is favored by most who study the arrangement.|
|If a small amount of muck is used to close the space between the two major rocks, there's a 1" wide x 4" long area that is easily planted. A compact variegated variety of Serrissa was used. The rock stands 19" tall and the oval marble tray is 23" long x 13" wide x 3/4" high.|
|The Chinese hut is about 2" tall. If a smaller figurine was used, the cliff would have appeared taller. Rounded river rocks of various sizes were used to create the beach.|