Exposed-Root – Neagari :
In this style the roots of the tree are exposed as extensions of the trunk, free from soil. Representing old trees which over time wind and rain have exposed the trees grasp on the earth. In Neagari style the roots can extend as far as one-half to two-thirds the total tree height. Classic rules say to eliminate any crossing roots to show elegance and allow the eye to move freely with the tree from top to bottom with no distractions. Depending on the species tree and growing conditions, periodically remove an inch or so of soil to force the roots to develop bark and to harden off.
-Advantages of Neagari are the beautiful untamed images of gnarly roots. Nebari being such a huge part of bonsai our eyes as viewers naturally migrate to the trunk of the tree. With exposed root style the nebari is expanded and heightened to allow the viewer to see and imagine the harsh conditions in which the tree has survived. This image is very attractive to the artist and the viewer because of the negative space created within the tree, we almost have a yin and yang image with an exposed root tree, to see the tree canopy thrive and hold strong with thin roots that run high out of a shallow pot gives balance in two areas of the compostion.
-Disadvantage of Exposed root style is that the roots sometimes have a mind of their own. When we start to remove soil over time a lot of thicker roots will cross and need to be removed, it will take time to thicken or graft roots that match the image of your tree. This being said it becomes difficult to do with some collected trees which have come off granite slabs or out of sandstone with tons of small feeder roots. So patience becomes the name of the game, starting exposed root bonsai from seed or cutting allows us to choose roots which we want exposed a little easier.
Most tree species are applicable to exposed root style, if you have the patience.
Trident Maple (Acer Buergerianum)
Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum)
Japanese White Pine