Bonsai Inspirations - Harry Harrington

Bonsai Basho

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Can I share this review with you. Some of you may know of the website www.bonsai4me.co.uk which has for the last decade been sharing some great stuff. The author Harry Harrington from the UK is a really down to earth guy and he has a real flare for bonsai creation from scratch.

Now he has produced a book which you can get direct order from his website and I beleive from amazon now.

This was our review.http://www.bonsaibasho.com/micromarket/?url=/library/library/a323

you can see more of the book at: http://www.bonsai4me.com/bonsai-inspirations/BIIndex.html

his book is well worth the read.
 

Ross

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Please correct me if I am wrong, but this site you keep linking is a for-profit website, right? You could have posted the book review right here, but instead you linked to the article as featured on another site. I see that there is a premium area available only to members who subscribe for £25.00 a year, and I wonder if your motivation for posting here is to further the art of bonsai, or merely to further your profits as owner of said site. If I am way off base, then I am sorry, but it seems to me that there are plenty of free websites to choose from where I can discuss bonsai and post pics without an annual membership fee. Also it seems like you are taking advantage of this "free" site and its traffic to essentially "pimp" your site and drive up page views/memberships.
 

grog

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The moderator doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and I suppose that's about all that matters isn't it?

Personally, I was glad to see some more details on the book, big fan of the website.
 

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I recently won the progression contest at that site and recieved the book as a prize. It took a long time for me to recieve from the UK so I am still reading it. So far I have been very happy with the book and plan a review from a more seasoned perspective.

Al
 

Ross

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I am glad that you guys enjoy that site, but I just don't appreciate this type of marketing perhaps. I didn't like it when Paul and Will would pop on here and drop AOB/KOB links all over the place without contributing, and I don't see much of a difference in this case. As for what BNut thinks, well that's a different story. It's his site and he can do what he wants, but from what I've experienced, the true beauty of this site is his hands-off approach to moderation. Just because he allows a post to remain doesn't at all mean that he agrees with it, whether it's Bonsai Basho's shameless self-promotion or my impressions thereof. I guess that site might really have some good info, but I stopped reading when I saw "premium membership/premium content" and "£24.99 annual membership fee." In my opinion there are far too many free blogs/forums/galleries to keep up with without having to subscribe to anything. This is a bonsai forum after all, so if you have something constructive to add to the community, why not just post it here along with the link?
 

Ross

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I recently won the progression contest at that site and recieved the book as a prize...
I saw that your Pyracantha won a progression contest over at the Bonsaisite forums, with the prize being the Harry Harrington book. Did you also win one on BonsaiBasho.com?
 

grouper52

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I'm not sure what you mean by a "seasoned perspective", Al, but my thoughts are as follows. First, allow me to post the introductory remarks from the review, so that my response will make some sense.

The review by Phil Joslin begins as follows:

"I don't know if you are like most people when you pick up a Bonsai book you have come to expect certain things. You get the gallery book, a set of perfect images of trees many of which have taken a lifetime or many lifetimes to grow; trees which have taken countless hours of dedication, time and the personal secrets of the many people who have lived with the tree through its life. These jewels are remarkable to see but are be beyond the knowledge or experience of many in terms of their creation.
*


"Then we find the introductory books which show you the basic techniques alongside a finished tree. It's that 'and here's one I made earlier'* kind of thing. Its informative but for most people the reader is still have no clue as to how it really all works or comes together.
*"

"
Lastly there are the 'reputation books'. Books written by people to sit alongside their status in the world of - usually western bonsai. These are the kind of books you buy when you start out and leave on the shelf when you realise it was just a book sale. Harsh perhaps but true.
*


"So why say all this in the review of an English guy's first book? The reason is simple, when I read through 'Bonsai Inspirations' by Harry Harrington I was stumped. It just doesn't fit any of the established categories. There are no pictures of Harry standing with the Royal family, posing beside the late & great John Naka. There are no stunning 200 year old trees to leave you in awe and wonder. There is simply none of the fuss which accompanies so many other bonsai publications.

"So what is this book about?

"ITS ABOUT MAKING BONSAI* - SIMPLE. For me its an invitation to join Harry's world. A place in which Harry does what he does without pomp or ceremony, without being a founder member of the association or doing the demonstration circuit. You will also not see Harry recanting how he climbed the north face of the Eiger and climbed down a sheer drop with a 200Kg tree strapped to his back and another between his teeth. In short Harry is one of us - substance without the drama."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Like Al, I recently received a copy of Harry's book as a 3rd place prize in the contest. It is a fine book. I've known Harry for years over at BonsaiSite, and have great respect for the guidance contained at his site, bonsai4me.com.

However, (and it's not that everything has to always be about me and my recent book, but . . .) I come away from this review - which is dripping with put-downs - wondering: Am I supposed to feel bad about the "fuss" and the "drama" of my own book, filled as it is with the photos of ancient and gorgeous trees, and the many tales of memorable demonstrations, collecting exploits and famous friends that make up the life and works of Dan Robinson? Should I feel I have wasted my time and effort in narcissistic pursuits, a drama queen author attempting to capture a lowly Western drama queen artist of no "substance", not one of "us"?
 

Smoke

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I saw that your Pyracantha won a progression contest over at the Bonsaisite forums, with the prize being the Harry Harrington book. Did you also win one on BonsaiBasho.com?
no, just at Harry's site
 

Smoke

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I'm not sure what you mean by a "seasoned perspective", Al, but my thoughts are as follows. First, allow me to post the introductory remarks from the review, so that my response will make some sense.


Like Al, I recently received a copy of Harry's book as a 3rd place prize in the contest. It is a fine book. I've known Harry for years over at BonsaiSite, and have great respect for the guidance contained at his site, bonsai4me.com.

However, (and it's not that everything has to always be about me and my recent book, but . . .) I come away from this review - which is dripping with put-downs - wondering: Am I supposed to feel bad about the "fuss" and the "drama" of my own book, filled as it is with the photos of ancient and gorgeous trees, and the many tales of memorable demonstrations, collecting exploits and famous friends that make up the life and works of Dan Robinson? Should I feel I have wasted my time and effort in narcissistic pursuits, a drama queen author attempting to capture a lowly Western drama queen artist of no "substance", not one of "us"?
These two books on a comparison basis are like comparing apples and oranges. Dan's book is written in the second party and is a book which has been written with admiration for its hero as well as being about a true friend. In some ways, the same could be said about the way the feelings about Dan's work have been conveyed to a potential reader is the same as Phil's feelings about Harry, which read as though he may work in Harry's backyard on weekends. So my idea of what a seasoned review is, is someone that has been in the hobby for a minimum of 15 years, just about read every bonsai book ever produced since 1959 and has contributed greatly to the art. I feel that I meet that criteria quite well. I also feel that being someone that does not pull any punches when critiqueing someones work, and the fact that I owe nothing to anyone, I can give a pretty accurate point of view.

Based on what I have read so far, Phil has tried to dissolve a lot of sugar in that iced tea.

That being said, I wish I had this book 25 years ago. While Gnarly branches inspires from a different place, I don't think that book would have given me the same inspiration that Harry's does. It just inspires in a more technical way while Gnarly playes with the senses. It inspires one to "wish" he could have a tree like that someday, while Harry's gives you the tools and motivation to get off your lazy ass and cut some wood with detailed how to's to guide you along the way.


Would I have bought this book? Probably not. Why not? Cause it's filled with techniques that while great, and fully documented, I was doing a decade ago.


Now Gnarly, there has already been some discussion on a how to, and how to carve like that. I think we see what the masses are hungry for.......
 

grouper52

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Thanks, Al.

I was certainly not intending to compare my book with Harry's - as you say, they are very much apples and oranges.

My remarks were more a response to a review that, IMO, was overly, unnecessarily pointed and derogatory in the tone of its dismissal of practically every other book out there. There seemed no need for such a strident tone. I found it objectionable, whether my book was among the inspirations for the snide remarks or not.

I have been an avid reader my whole life, but to have brought together and put out a book like that, and to have seen firsthand the other side of the production and post-production equation, that has really shifted my opinions about that whole universe. Quite an eye opener. I'm left with some fairly strong responses to things that would never even have lit up my radar screen a few years ago. :)

I was not aware that you had read my book: I hope you found something worthwhile in it. As for a book on Dan's carving techniques, Vic had wanted to do a book on all Dan's techniques : A groundswell of pressure from the community, urging her to get started on it, might just produce the desired result. I could help, like she helped with mine, but the technical book is more her baby than mine. :)
 

Smoke

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Thanks, Al.

I was certainly not intending to compare my book with Harry's - as you say, they are very much apples and oranges.

My remarks were more a response to a review that, IMO, was overly, unnecessarily pointed and derogatory in the tone of its dismissal of practically every other book out there. There seemed no need for such a strident tone. I found it objectionable, whether my book was among the inspirations for the snide remarks or not.

I have been an avid reader my whole life, but to have brought together and put out a book like that, and to have seen firsthand the other side of the production and post-production equation, that has really shifted my opinions about that whole universe. Quite an eye opener. I'm left with some fairly strong responses to things that would never even have lit up my radar screen a few years ago. :)

I was not aware that you had read my book: I hope you found something worthwhile in it. As for a book on Dan's carving techniques, Vic had wanted to do a book on all Dan's techniques : A groundswell of pressure from the community, urging her to get started on it, might just produce the desired result. I could help, like she helped with mine, but the technical book is more her baby than mine. :)
Well actually when compared to every other book out there...( the last five years) it is a stand alone book. In fact I have never seen one like it yet. Morten Albeks book was close on some levels but did not go far enough on technique to be of real use. Rob Kempenski's book is close in other ways but still is short on the real documentation of a start to finish bonsai book.

Three months ago I had a rather lengthy conversation with Ted Matson and bonsai photography. I had asked why I never see him anywhere related to bonsai with a camera. He had no good answer except to say that shooting pictures was not always formost on his mind. He also mentioned that he was working on collating material towards his own book but has actually started to rethink that due to the fact he has no pictures of his bonsai journey to go with his amazing adventure. Think how wonderful it would be to see a book from Ted and have a photographic representation of bonsai through the years as seen through the eyes of Ted. His work with Naka, Fuji, Iishi and Hirao and fellows like that.

As far as Gnarly goes....I have not read it. I have seen it twice. Read a couple chapters of a friends book and looked at some pictures from the book. I think the book works well within the genre but again, is a book that captures a different kind of flavor like Robert Steven or Mark Noelanders.


I have never bought a book "sight unseen", and probably never will. I have bought books from ebay, but I already knew what I was buying so it was more or less just having something to hold and put on a shelf to keep. Sight unseen is not the reason I do not have gnarly.
 
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Bonsai Basho

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Clear the air

Hi guys

Can I just get this off my chest - want to say this just once - I feel that I have a right to reply.

let me be clear Bonsai Basho is a 100% free, its a not for profit site. Its produced professionally and I pay for it not the members - I know its not common but people actually do things sometimes out of genuine good will. I don't do it for ego either I don't put my name or picture all over the site or the internet. I get small contributions from the tool club and a few people who want a premium service to store info an pics of their trees. Please don't speculate about the motives people you don't know.

I'm happy to share anything from my site for free that's how I presented myself to the moderator's of Bonsai Nut and I appreciate their trust - I won't break that.

I terms of the book the review was honest. I've only met Harry a couple of times and I find it frankly offensive that because I gave it a good review I get accused being the guy's publicist or buddy - I'm not.

OK that's said..........

The book is damn good and there's no sugar in that. Yes if you've been bending the branches for 20 years then you will have seen some even much of it before. But the reason I like this book is that it's useful, really honestly useful to people who are hungry to learn for themselves. There are frankly too many useless books out there it's not snide to be straight.

In the regard of our friend here, well I sadly havn't had a chance to read your book - However I understand from a friend who has a copy that its amazing. I've been asking the guy to loan it to me so I could review it but he won't let me have it - he says go get your own!:)

So why did you think by reviewing Harry's book I was reviewing yours? Did I mention your book - no, did I say your book was bad - no, did I say great when you put your book up on my site - yes.

When I have actually had a chance to get a copy of your book for myself then I'll gladly read and review it. If its great, which I understand it is, then I'll say so - if i think its not I'll say so. But I work 12 hours a day and when I come home my first priority isn't nursing author's egos, neither Harry's or yours. I do with my time what I can. You put your book out to inspire people your way - good for you, well done, you had the guts to do something.

Unfortunately you've asked me to take your book off my site..... Sorry I just don't get it. So lets be friends and do something good for Bonsai.

Can I say thanks to Bonsainut for letting us all shoot from the hip and be honest.
 

grouper52

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Phil,

BNut is all about shooting from the hip - glad you appreciate that and took advantage of it. :) It's the Wild West here!

I never said you read my book, but the put-downs that permeated the first part of your interview, the part I quoted, would probably apply to my book even more so than the many other books you were referring to. The inappropriately derogatory broad brush with which you painted every bonsai book ever written except Harry's is simply unnecessary. Having said that, however, I suppose it DOES give you some street cred right out of the gate with your first posting here. :D Yo!

And why the heck HAVEN'T you read my book?!? Your friend says it's amazing, so much so he won't let it out of his sight. It's been available, listed on you site for months now (and I DO have to thank you for you help and support in starting that listing :) ) but you haven't even thought to ask if I would send you a promo copy to review. I would certainly have sent you one, which is my practice, and you could have had a field day casting endless slurs about the ancient trees, demo descriptions, collecting trips, etc. What an opportunity you've missed!

Here at BNut, we tend to operate like old mountain goats, frequently establishing respect and friendship by first bashing heads together. Welcome aboard! If you'd like to consider us as having gotten that ritual behind us, I'd be happy if you'd re-list my book. I'd be happy to send you a promo copy if you really want to review it, and if you don't then that's OK too. And if you do review it, I expect you to feel entirely free to rip it to shreds in an orgy of malicious criticism if that's how the spirit moves you!

You butt heads well - nice to meet you!

Will
 

Bonsai Basho

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A pleasure

Pleasure butting heads - I'll get to your book, I'll be honest and I'll re list it :)
 

milehigh_7

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I am glad that you guys enjoy that site, but I just don't appreciate this type of marketing perhaps. I didn't like it when Paul and Will would pop on here and drop AOB/KOB links all over the place without contributing, and I don't see much of a difference in this case. As for what BNut thinks, well that's a different story. It's his site and he can do what he wants, but from what I've experienced, the true beauty of this site is his hands-off approach to moderation. Just because he allows a post to remain doesn't at all mean that he agrees with it, whether it's Bonsai Basho's shameless self-promotion or my impressions thereof. I guess that site might really have some good info, but I stopped reading when I saw "premium membership/premium content" and "£24.99 annual membership fee." In my opinion there are far too many free blogs/forums/galleries to keep up with without having to subscribe to anything. This is a bonsai forum after all, so if you have something constructive to add to the community, why not just post it here along with the link?
The site has loads of resources. Not only that you speak of not contributing but you have 194 posts in 4 years... not exactly active. Seems like you just popped in to bash someone, how super cool of you.
 

Ross

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Seriously Clyde? I contribute to this forum every year with my own experiences and my pictures of trees. It took me a long time to crop, edit, and resize my pictures from the Chicago Bonsai exhibit I posted here last summer, and just a few days ago I posted a picture of my Ginkgo for feedback. I post updated pics of some of my trees every year! My post count is not into the thousands like yours because I prefer to speak from experience and not just to hear myself talk. Take a look at the post counts here of the "masters" and then compare that to yours. Is your post count commensurate with your experience? I doubt it.

My issue with Bonsai Basho is twofold. Firstly, I'm not a big fan of how he links to content on his site instead of posting it here, and I also am not a huge fan of the "premium content" on his site only available to paid subscribers. In my opinion there are a number of "free" sites available for bonsai content and that is where I choose to hang my hat. You may be of a different mind, and that's your right, but don't come on here to criticize my opinion or my contributions. Basho already explained his position, it is what it is, websites aren't free and I acknowledge that, and we were past it until you felt the need to criticize me, how super cool of you. :rolleyes:
 
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milehigh_7

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Seriously Clyde? I contribute to this forum every year with my own experiences and my pictures of trees. It took me a long time to crop, edit, and resize my pictures from the Chicago Bonsai exhibit I posted here last summer, and just a few days ago I posted a picture of my Ginkgo for feedback. I post updated pics of some of my trees every year! My post count is not into the thousands like yours because I prefer to speak from experience and not just to hear myself talk. Take a look at the post counts here of the "masters" and then compare that to yours. Is your post count commensurate with your experience? I doubt it.

My issue with Bonsai Basho is twofold. Firstly, I'm not a big fan of how he links to content on his site instead of posting it here, and I also am not a huge fan of the "premium content" on his site only available to paid subscribers. In my opinion there are a number of "free" sites available for bonsai content and that is where I choose to hang my hat. You may be of a different mind, and that's your right, but don't come on here to criticize my opinion or my contributions. Basho already explained his position, it is what it is, websites aren't free and I acknowledge that, and we were past it until you felt the need to criticize me, how super cool of you. :rolleyes:
OOOOh How very challenging to crop, edit and resize pictures... I have a script that does this in batches. This "contribution" you made and all the work you put into cropping, editing and resizing is interesting in light of your comments here (emphasis mine):

I just got back from Chicago, and I had the opportunity to see the bonsai collection at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I took pictures of every tree on display so I could post them here for you guys and gals. I didn't edit any of these so none are cropped or rotated like I would prefer, but you get the idea. Overall I was very impressed, and the rest of the gardens there are also very nice, and it was larger than I expected.
If you are not a big fan of people trying to carve out a living in the bonsai world then please by all means leave and don't let the proverbial door hit ya where the good lord split ya...

I did see and comment on your fancy Ginkgo. As impressive as your vast experience is, when you pop in at random to bash on someone you make yourself a target. If you don't like that keep your pie hole shut. :rolleyes:

As far as my contributions here go, I apologize that I am not as knowledgeable about bonsai as you must be and that is why I am here. I normally ask questions but sometimes I give feedback like I did on your $1 tree. You are right on that count as well, I left you encouragement to hear myself talk. :rolleyes:
 

Ross

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I appreciate your feedback on the Ginkgo. It is nice as a novice to hear from others that they think you are on the right track. And you are correct about the Chicago pics, I thought I had edited them, but I guess I was just thinking about doing it.:) Regardless, it took a long time to post all of them, and I did it so that everyone could enjoy it a little bit like I did. I don't know why you feel the need to bash my contributions, I post here so that I can get some information when I need it and give some information when I have it. I have no problem with people trying to carve out a living from bonsai, and I understand how difficult it can be, but can I not express my opinion about bonsai business ventures? Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and I never said you had to agree with me or leave, as you have so eloquently expressed. Did you get this bent out of shape when people were commenting on the relative cost of the Ichiban? If you want to pony up the money for the "premium content" and hang out over at Bonsai Basho, it's up to you. Personally I would prefer to see your trees and contributions here, where we can have discussions like this without worrying about what is or isn't "politically correct."

Peace,
Ross
 

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If you're going to get all bent out of shape about people selling bonsai stuff here, then spread it around.

Walter Pall links to Nature's Way, which sells stock that is roughly 8,000 times more expensive than the premium content offered by Basho:

http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5270

Not sure of the financials there, but Pall draws in workshop participants for Nature's Way and the nursery sells "Walter Pall" trees...

Is that a problem? I don't think so. More power to them. Bonsai has to have vendors. As long as they're not obnoxious about it, it's OK by me.

That's not the only example of a "hidden" agenda of some posters.

In the end, it's up to the buyer to either shell out the $$ -- or not. Just because it's on the Internet, doesn't make it free...
 
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