Firstly, Penjing is the art of small scale natural landscapes. This is done through the partnering of bonsai and ornaments to create a carefully crafted scene. These scenes are representative of the rich Chinese culture. They capture the spirit of nature through contrasts, aspects of Chinese poetry and visual arts. The beautiful landscapes often include bonsai, detailed carved rock, miniature figurines, temples. They are finished by their placement into a decorative, hand-painted​ pot which sets them aside from ordinary potted plants.

These scenes are highly representative of Chinese culture both historically and philosophically. Historically, the first documents containing descriptions of miniature landscapes are found from the Tang dynasty times (~AD 618). However, the art of creating miniature landscapes predates the 3rd and 4th centuries in China. There are legends of Taoists having had the ability to resize large landscapes into a potted size.

Finally, Penjing is also influenced by Chinese philosophy, particularly the principles of Taoism, including that of the yin and yang concept; the belief the universe is governed by that of two primal (balanced) forces. It’s this concept of balance which is experimented with in bonsai garden landscapes; playing upon the contrasts of denseness and sparseness, the straightness of the tree versus its twistiness, and its size and shape.