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Home > Bonsai > Styles of Bonsai > Formal Upright
Formal Upright
Formal UprightA tree with a style such as formal upright occurs when it has grown in the open under perfect conditions. The most important requirement for this style is that the trunk should be perfectly straight, tapering naturally and evenly from base to apex. The branches should be symmetrically spaced so that they are balanced when viewed from any direction. It is quite a demanding style to achieve.

Recommended Species: Larches, Junipers, Pines and Spruces are all suitable species. Maples can also be used, but are not as easy to train into such a conformist style. Above all, fruiting or naturally informal trees are not suitable for formal upright.

Processes/Techniques Used: To achieve an effective formal upright, make sure that about one third of the trunk is visible from the front, either from the base to the first branch or cumulatively, as seen through the tracery of its branches. Generally, the placement of branches follows a pattern. The first branch up from the bottom is the longest and in proportion usually is trained to grow to an equivalent to a third of the total height of the tree. This is the `heaviest` branch almost making a right angle to the trunk. The second branch directly opposes the first branch and is higher on the trunk. As the branch structure ascends, they taper assuming a somewhat cone-like form. The top of the bonsai is usually very thick with foliage - so full and tightly ramified that it is difficult to see its internal structure through the mass of leaves or needles. The tip of this style of bonsai also has a slight curve, to lean forward and effectively `look at the viewer`. Depending on what species of tree you are using, the whole tree does not have to be symmetrical but rather the branches could ascend by alternating on each side. (I personally prefer this, as the former seems too regimented.)

As mentioned earlier, the branches and trunk of a formal upright bonsai always take on a very distinctive taper. This is achieved by cruelly cutting off the growing tip of the trunk or branch with each new year and wiring a new branch into position to form the apex. This is something quite hard to do, however it produces a stunning result when the trunk starts to mature and the taper starts becoming prominent.
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Formal Upright Informal Upright Slanting Style
Cascade Style Semi- Cascade Style
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