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.