A reference explained

Rick Moquin

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I haven't bought a bonsai book in a couple of years, aside from the republished Lenz book--which is worth every penny. Unfortunately, the bonsai book market favors entry level, since that's basically where the mass audience and money are. Good, in-depth, advanced bonsai books are very rare.
... this indeed is the unfortunate part. Finding a good reference is hard if not next to impossible to find, often if we search for specifics it is often found outside the "bonsai world" so to speak, as in this example or this one.

My reference was largely built some time ago, and albeit not as extensive as yours, reasonably comprehensive. I say reasonably because many books in my collection I would not have today. A large portion of these books were referrals and many were not perused prior to acquisition. Many a volume that I had the opportunity to view prior to purchase, can still be found in bookstores :)

I keep hoping someone will take up the huge challenge of equaling Nick Lenz regional book for other parts of the country--like a SouthEast book that covers bald cypress, tupelo, live oak, etc. A Western version that covers species from there, and so on. Those publications would probably have an extremely small readership and would be losers financially though...
... and hence the pitfall of such a recommendation. One of the reason I do not own that particular book, is for the exact aforementioned reasons. I would have no use for it in my Neck of the woods.

As time went on and experience gained I found myself seeking (not unlike you) more and more comprehensive references, to include but not limited to: specie specific. Generally the references were good to very good, but at times they seem to leave us "flat" or perhaps our anticipation built such a crescendo that such anticipation exceeded our rightful expectations. In other words we expected more than what was delivered. Hence the reference to the author or the publisher, where at times great material is delivered but perhaps the content insufficient for a "book" and hence filler material is added e.g pots, wiring, how to re-pot a tree etc... as you stated this is the type of material best left in a beginners book.

Getting back to Bonsai School, after having purchased and read Basically Bonsai, and reviewing Craig's site, not to mention the titillation provided by Craig on his site with his new coming book "Bonsai School", I honestly thought it would be a step above the rest. It mirrors many great books out there. However I must concede it does have one thing that other references do not, and that is the numerous artist involved in the reference and thus varying view points.

Is it a beginner book? No. I would have to classify it as intermediate to advanced. So how does Deborah fit into this? Well considering were Grizzly's post was posted (begineer's section) I believe her book which is now available at Stone Lantern is probably the most comprehensive and descriptive reference on how to care and raise bonsai for the lack of a better word.

Following is a list of what I deemed was 5 books that are must have, the 6th is strong optional. This list was compiled in 2006 and one I still endorse in principle, call it a starter kit for the lack of a better word:

Bonsai It's Art, Science, History and Philosophy
by Deborah Koreshoff
ISBN 0908175752

Bonsai techniques Vol I
by John Yoshio Naka
ISBN 0930422317

Bonsai techniques Vol II
by John Yoshio Naka
ISBN 093042233

Bonsai in your Home
by Paul Lesniewicz
ISBN 0806907819

Home Gardener's Problem Solver
by Ortho Books
ISBN 0897215044

Vision of My Soul
By Robert Steven
ISBN 9799920302

As we advance in this art form I think one needs to focus on what is going to meet our individuals needs, not dissimilar to what you mentioned wrt Nick's book. Because I believe we both agree that many volumes are sheer repetitions of what is already out there, some with new twist, some not, and these include works from great artists. It is probably preferable to build a reference out of articles from folks like Walter, Nick, Colin etc... than trying to find a comprehensive book on the subject (cost). There are numerous articles floating about, some highly technical both artistically and horticulturally. Unfortunately even in many books the depth of detail pales in comparison to some of these articles written by unpublished artists. (Disclaimer: many have written articles for magazines etc... but as of yet have not produced a book)

As mentioned in the other thread, I am looking forward to Robert's second book, I have been waiting for a long time. I just hope I haven't built a crescendo... ;)
 
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rockm

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There are many books I would gladly give back in my collection :), or at least some I wish I hadn't paid for. "Art of the Chrysanthemum" for which I shelled out $80 about 10 years ago is at the top of that list.

I have found that arborculture and "tree" books (Dirrs in particular), regional plant guides and books on overall tree care can add substantially to a bonsai library.

I also urge ANYONE to buy Lenz's book. You don't have to live in the N.E. to appreciate it. It's collection and care techniques give insight for bonsai in any location (although it doens't translate literally).

I don't necessarily agree or disagree with your list. My epiphany about how to "do" bonsai came while I was reading Peter Chan's "Bonsai Masterclass" 18 or so years ago. The fact that bonsai are made from larger trees cut down to bonsai size had never really sunk in, until I saw the photos of Peter taking a chain saw to a very large zelkova...That epiphany could've come from other material, but at the time, it was that book that changed my point of view.
 

greerhw

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Don't take me wrong, books are a great tool for the novice, but once you have gotten to the point where your comfortable with repotting, wiring and basic styles, the next step needs to be spending time at a workshop with a professional. Even better if you afford a one on one with a master, the rewards are well worth the expense, you will rocket past all the books ever written on advance bonsai techniques from my experience. Boon has a video that deals with JBP training and decandling, a must if you want to leard about JBP, but there is no substitute for hands on with someone who knows what they are doing.

keep it green,
Harry
 

rockm

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Nope. There's not. But books offer easily accessible input and insight that instructors mostly can't.

There is certainly no substitute for hands on learning, but supplementing that physical learning with theory doesn't hurt and can certainly expand horizons--even in advanced bonsai folks. I've seen things in books and magazines that I've NEVER run across with instructors and demonstrators and vice versa.
 

mcpesq817

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... and hence the pitfall of such a recommendation. One of the reason I do not own that particular book, is for the exact aforementioned reasons. I would have no use for it in my Neck of the woods.
Hi Rick,

Just out of curiosity, wouldn't a good number of the species in the Lenz book work in your part of the world? I was under the impression that Lenz was up in the Northeastern part of the U.S., which I would think would have relatively similar conditions to those you have in Nova Scotia.
 

cquinn

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Hi Rick,

Just out of curiosity, wouldn't a good number of the species in the Lenz book work in your part of the world? I was under the impression that Lenz was up in the Northeastern part of the U.S., which I would think would have relatively similar conditions to those you have in Nova Scotia.
Some of the examples of species in Lenz's book were actually collected in Nova Scotia. Apparently there is some excellent material up there if you know what to look for and where to look.
 

Rick Moquin

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I also urge ANYONE to buy Lenz's book. You don't have to live in the N.E. to appreciate it. It's collection and care techniques give insight for bonsai in any location (although it doens't translate literally).
... and I promise that should it hit the shelves of the local bookstores will give it more than a cursory glance.

I don't necessarily agree or disagree with your list. My epiphany about how to "do" bonsai came while I was reading Peter Chan's "Bonsai Masterclass" 18 or so years ago. The fact that bonsai are made from larger trees cut down to bonsai size had never really sunk in, until I saw the photos of Peter taking a chain saw to a very large zelkova...That epiphany could've come from other material, but at the time, it was that book that changed my point of view.
I don't know if I would call mine an epiphany but Robert is the one that changed my views of bonsai, through his book and our many exchanges. Harry Harrington was the chap that recommended his book to me. I can't explain what it is/was and really don't give it a second thought.
 

rockm

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. "and I promise that should it hit the shelves of the local bookstores will give it more than a cursory glance"

Unfortunately, it won't be hitting shelves in local bookstores. This book is available only online--unless you run across it in a used bookstore by chance.

Try online vendors:
http://www.stonelantern.com/Bonsai_from_the_Wild_2nd_ed_p/b1lenz.htm
and others.
 

Rick Moquin

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Don't take me wrong, books are a great tool for the novice, but once you have gotten to the point where your comfortable with repotting, wiring and basic styles, the next step needs to be spending time at a workshop with a professional. Even better if you afford a one on one with a master, the rewards are well worth the expense, you will rocket past all the books ever written on advance bonsai techniques from my experience. Boon has a video that deals with JBP training and decandling, a must if you want to leard about JBP, but there is no substitute for hands on with someone who knows what they are doing.

keep it green,
Harry
Nope. There's not. But books offer easily accessible input and insight that instructors mostly can't.

There is certainly no substitute for hands on learning, but supplementing that physical learning with theory doesn't hurt and can certainly expand horizons--even in advanced bonsai folks. I've seen things in books and magazines that I've NEVER run across with instructors and demonstrators and vice versa.
Harry,

I have the utmost respect for you. Although I would not care to practice bonsai the way you do, I sincerely endorse what you are doing. To some bonsai is more than having trees in pots, it's a passion and, if what you are doing brings you pleasure in your twilight years, then so be it. You have earned it and deserve it. I am truely happy that you are fortunate enough to enjoy bonsai in your own way. But... (you knew that was coming, didn't ya buddy?)

I have to strongly endorse what rockm has just stated, a reference library is as necessary as concave cutters in bonsai, well at least it saves on long distance phone calls :):p I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the Internet and my library not to mention the great articles that have been written by learnt enthusiasts. There is no doubt in my mind that I would be years ahead of the game if there were different avenues available to me, but there isn't. To many this is also their predicament so we bimble along enjoying thew passion for what it brings to us... ;)
 

Rick Moquin

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Hi Rick,

Just out of curiosity, wouldn't a good number of the species in the Lenz book work in your part of the world? I was under the impression that Lenz was up in the Northeastern part of the U.S., which I would think would have relatively similar conditions to those you have in Nova Scotia.
Bill,

I'm not sure. As I answered Mark I would give the book a serious look if it ever comes to local bookstores, or I find a cheap 2nd hand copy. As I mentioned I am very, did I say very selective on what I buy these days wrt references. I have some great books, but there is allot of repetition.

WRT your post in the other thread, yes magazines are also a great source of info at times. I was once subscribed to Bonsai Today, then Bonsai Europe and Bonsai Focus. I have not seen ABS but I am well aware of Bill's magazine as well.

Why I mentioned I started to collect pertinent info where ever found is because one source just doesn't meet my needs. Let's see if I can't explain where I am trying to get at.

Over the many years I have held subscriptions in: fly fishing; fly tying; woodworking; computers adn computer programing; archery; hunting and fishing; bowhunting; ATVs etc... to name a few. All these subscriptions fail to meet my needs. Where once I was woooooed by a certain magazine that perhaps I had picked up off the rack and subsequently bought a subscription to said magazine, although informative, only a few per year had any real substance that was useful to me. Once upon a time it was cost effective to take out a subscription, now it is an almost break even proposition. Sooooooo, if only 1/3 of the magazines content was useful, how much money are you wasting? I have found out a long time ago that it is indeed cost effective to purchase units vice subscribing. Mind you some of these magazines are not available from book shelves (Bonsai anyway) in my neck of the woods, so one is left to ponder is the price of the subscription worth the content.

Bonsai Today started to falter, I switched to Bonsai Europe and all was well for a while. Then Bonsai Focus came about while I was carrying both subscriptions. The latter was taken care of but the commercial content of Bonsai Focus was starting to turn into the content of Bonsai Today. To exacerbate the situation the failure of correcting a renewal snafu (bonsai focus) I did not renew.

Inspirational photo shoots and styling are nice and at times educational, I say at times because how many black pine styling those one need to see to be inspired. One may marvel over hundreds of pictures of junis or JBPs etc... but in essence they have pretty much the same thing in common. Probably the one exception is Kimura's chain saw antics LOL. But I believe you can see where I am coming from.

I now find myself in search of material with more substance and in depth detail. I don't care for the source (it must be credible) of said material, just that it is complete, educational and thorough. We are extremely fortunate that some of this reference material is shared here on the information highway and I am extremely grateful to those who take the time to share their knowledge with us. It aids in furthering the art and the more knowledgeable people in the art, the greater the art will be and expand.
 

Rick Moquin

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Some of the examples of species in Lenz's book were actually collected in Nova Scotia. Apparently there is some excellent material up there if you know what to look for and where to look.
Any tips would be appreciated (where to look). I know we have some good larches in our neck of the woods.
 

Rick Moquin

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greerhw

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Harry,

I have the utmost respect for you. Although I would not care to practice bonsai the way you do, I sincerely endorse what you are doing. To some bonsai is more than having trees in pots, it's a passion and, if what you are doing brings you pleasure in your twilight years, then so be it. You have earned it and deserve it. I am truely happy that you are fortunate enough to enjoy bonsai in your own way. But... (you knew that was coming, didn't ya buddy?)

Doesn't bother me in any way, to each his own, but the bottom line is to have trees in pots, whether we buy them that way or create them ourselves, have a Merry Christmas and a healthy 2010,

keep it green,
Harry
 

johng

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In my experience

I am sure others will disagree, and at one time I bought every book I could get my hands on, but then I realized there is absolutely no substitute for "in person" learning...workshops, and 1 on 1 are the most effective for me...demos are ok but can often be very misleading(quality bonsai is never created in 2 hours). My most valuable learning experience have come from just getting together and working on trees with other hobbyists.

I have two very good friends that have both been doing bonsai for more than 35 years...For the first 25 years, books were the only guidance they had. Now, both will adamantly express from personal experience how essential it is for your own growth to spend time working with others at and above your skill level.

As many seem to have expressed here, most books just leave you guessing in the end.

As an educator, you also have to consider your personal learning style...for some books may be the correct choice, but for most of the us actually working on trees under the guidance or along side other bonsai hobbyists/teachers will result in much faster and meaningful personal development. You can read a book 10 times over but it never once helps you master a particular skill or technique.

I am sure there are many out there for which books and the internet are their only source of information. If that's you, I would strongly advise you to make every efforts to connect with others.

For me...this is why we tell new folks to join a club instead of buy a book.

just my thoughts,
John
 

Rick Moquin

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I am sure there are many out there for which books and the internet are their only source of information. If that's you, I would strongly advise you to make every efforts to connect with others.

For me...this is why we tell new folks to join a club instead of buy a book.

just my thoughts,
John
John,

I support everything you have said here. Unfortunately, seeking where there is nothing, results in nothing. The closest avenue for anything bonsai related to where I live is 14 hr drive one way from where I live (Montreal).
 

cquinn

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Any tips would be appreciated (where to look). I know we have some good larches in our neck of the woods.
Can't remember off hand which species, but it was either a type of Juniper or White Cedar that he collected on the rocky coast. It almost looked like a jetty.
 
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