To me, looking at a deciduous tree in leaf is only half the story.
Sorry, Jerry, but that kind of statement always makes me grin. If the "deciduous tree in leaf is only half the story", than surely the denuded tree is "only" the other half?
Nonetheless, I see the point of this article. 'Integrity' comes to mind: the essential tree is displayed, without any chance of disguising flaws or faults.
And yes, perfectly styled, denuded trees are very much worth pausing for, admiring, and studying. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I would learn more from a bare tree than from one in full leaf.
OK, that's one half.
Now the other:
A bonsai that looks good without leaves will also look good with leaves.
Rob, I thought the same, but after some reflection I came to the conclusion that this is not necessarily so. A very symmetrical crown could produce a rather boring silhouette in Summer.
It seems to me that with Winter displays, there is a greater emphasis on technique rather than on aesthetic appeal. although the aesthetic part is not missing. Maybe it leads to ignoring the heck of a lot of knowledge it takes, both of horticultural and bonsai techniques, to get a beautiful head of foliage. This involves (sometimes) the defining of tiers, the judging of the amount of branching that should be visible, and having the leaves all healthy, evenly sized and placed, so as to fit in with the image of a miniature tree
The latter is easier to evoke with a denuded tree!
Isn't therefore a deciduous tree in full leaf the epitome of bonsai?