Forsythia Mame

Cotoneaster Mame

So, what is Mame Bonsai? To quote “Classic Bonsai of Japan” published by the Nipon Bonsai Association “Like other Bonsai, miniature bonsai also aim to reproduce the effect of a large, naturally growing tree, but because of their extreme smallness (usually no taller than 6 inches, of 15 centimetres) they represent the ultimate challenge to the skill of the grower.”

Mame are therefore usually not more than 6 inches high. This measurement includes the pot.

There are a variety of small bonsai sizes
•    Up to 1 inch in height: Keishi Bonsai
•    Up to 3 inch in height: Shito Bonsai
•    Up to 6 inch in height: Mame Bonsai
•    Up to 8 inch in height: Shohin Bonsai

Sometimes different names are used and you will realise there is some overlap.

For our purposes we define Mame as about 6 inches in height including the pot. You will find some organisations will limit competition entries to precisely 6 inches. This seems to us to be taking things too far since a singe leaf breaching the 6 inch limit does not invalidate the spirit of the tree and indeed the Japanese do not attempt to define size so precisely.

In creating a Mame Bonsai you are attempting to produce a work of art. Bonsai is not just about horticulture (although this is important) but represents the point where art, sculpture and horticulture meet. A fusion of different disciplines creating something which will give pleasure to the viewer. It may, for some, also have a spiritual dimension. (By spiritual we are referring to something which appeals to the deeper emotions, not in an organised religious sense; that would be far beyond our remit.)

Future pieces will include suggested soils, watering, some suitable types of tree, pots, styles and suggestions for showing.

Finally a reminder that Bonsai is about enjoying miniature trees. Have fun.