Bonsai is an artistic, symbolic recreation of nature and not a replica of it. It is more an abstraction of nature.
A bonsai develops from a combination of what you feel about the tree and how the tree behaves. There is no actual conflict between the natural element of chance and the human element of control, but there is a constant compromise.
It is the plant – the roots and trunk, the branches, the twigs and the leaves – as much the trunk and branches, the how a bonsai will develop. Too many new students feel that they have created a bonsai, and often it will be years before they realize that their effort is only a small contribution to the plant and the bonsai that results.
Trees have their own personalities and cannot be expected to behave the same as another tree of the same species, or even of the same variety. Every pine does not behave like every other pine; every black pine cannot be expected to develop the same as another black pine. And, it would be a mistake for you to treat every pine alike.
On the other hand, your feeling about every black pine will not be the same. The development of the plant is a result of what you feel and what nature offers. It is a compromise between nature’s random growth and the control you exercise to that growth.
The ultimate goal in shaping a bonsai is an elusive, ethereal thing rather than an inflexible blueprint of future development. It is a changing, growing thing that you guide from year to year with no real completion time or end. The enjoyment of bonsai is giving some control to nature’s seemingly purposeless growth.
And, there really should be no final goal for the development of your bonsai, for, if you were to achieve it, there would be nothing to strive for, and for the bonsai student, striving is the goal. There is a proverb that says to travel well is better than to arrive.
Seen at NewZealandandTeaTreeBonsai