Favorite Bonsai Books?

Nigel Black

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I figure the "Worst Bonsai Books" thread has sat here long enough.
Now for the optimistic view, in a manner of speaking....

I suppose it may go without saying for many of us that John Naka's
Technique's Vol's I and II are invaluable. I know they are my favorite among favorites.

I also really value most of what Peter Adams has done with one exception. I really like his "Art of Flowering Bonsai" but my favorite by him would be "Successful Bonsai Growing" as it gets into detail on bonsai specific horticultural techniques. the kind of things I never learned when working on my horticulture degree.

I also really dig Colin Lewis' "Art of Bonsai Design"

There is also the "Art of Natural Bonsai" by Dave Joyce.

Lastly would be that book by Herb Gustafson "Bonsai Workshop" because it helped me move out of the
helpless beginner stage with some common sense basics I don't tend to see in many other books. And it has great images of the process along with detailed explanations.

I am sure I'll get hammered for that last one....

Nigel
 
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A few off the top of my head...

'Vision of My Soul' by Robert Steven is a recent favorite, I received one as a gift after I purchased one, gave that away to Vance Wood as a thanks and then ended up buying another just so I can keep one untouched, it is that nice of a book and the content is excellent.

'The Art of Bonsai Design' by Colin Lewis is well worth the purchase price and is a good reference as well.

'The Growing Tree' by Brayton F. Wilson is my all time favorite on trees, this book, in my opinion, is a must have for anyone interested in how and why trees grow.

And of course 'Bonsai from the Wild' by Nick Lenz is a great book. The new edition has some updated info in it and Nick shares some excellent knowledge on many American Native Species.

Will
 
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grouper52

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The first book I ever bought, and the one I still recommend to beginners, is Growing and Displaying Bonsai by Colin Lewis and Neil Sutherland, still available very cheap used at Amazon.

Naka's BT i & II for advanced reference.

Amy Liang's Living Art of Bonsai is one of my favorites for inspiration.

The ones I spend the most time looking at for inspiration and shear pleasure these days, though, are two from China with no discernable authors, Bonsai of East Asia (ISBN 7-5426-1560-8) and Selection of Famous Works of Chinese Miniature Tree and Rock (ISBN 7-5426-1119-4). I got them from my friend Robert Cho at Asia Pacific Gardening near here in Kent Washington, and don't know if they are available elsewhere.

I also like the Pines book Stone Lantern put out.

grouper52
 

Rick Moquin

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Probably the best book ever written on the subject because the content has substance is:

Bonsai It’s Art, Science, History and Philosophy
by Deborah Koreshoff
ISBN 0908175752 HC pp.255

The crown jewel of my collection
Some might disagree with me on this one, but I believe it is, without a doubt, the best-written book on the subject. This book was out of print for quite some time and hence, difficult to find, as a matter of fact because the market demand was so great for a while, used dealers took it upon themselves to make a quick buck, selling used copies at exorbitant prices, the majority of which were paperbacks. After months of surfing the net, I was fortunate enough to acquire a used hardcover copy, in excellent condition for a very good price. The publisher as ordered another print of this magnificent book and it is once again widely available to the public. If history was any indication I would not hesitate in acquiring one before the well runs dry once again.

A short biography

Deborah was born in 1957 into a world of bonsai. Her father, born in Harbin, Manchuria, was also surrounded by bonsai and absorbed the knowledge from the old Chinese gardener who tended them. From infancy, Deborah was exposed to club meetings and lectures/presentations by her parents, and had her own collection from a very early age. By the time she was 14 she was showing remarkable talent, and her first demonstration was given to the Bonsai Society of Australia.

In 1976, her parents’ Bonsai Nursery became the only authorized branch of the Nippon Bonsai-Saikei Art Institute with the authority to issue the Japanese Certificates. In 1978, Deborah became the teacher and since has travelled extensively around Australia. She has been the Education and Programme Officer for the Bonsai Society of Australia and is the artist and major contributor for the magazine “Bonsai Australia”

The book starts off with an in depth introduction to the Art of Bonsai and it’s history. I believe describing the origins an important aspect of what we do; it is further my belief that we need to know where we have been in order to know how to proceed. Although the book has the usual pre-requisites, Deborah takes them a step further with, a brief history on the subject at hand, which, offers the reader some perspective and first hand knowledge on how things developed over the centuries. This type of approach in my opinion offers the reader the rationale on why we do things the way we do, far too often this approach is not used, or is to shallow, leaving the reader with more questions than answers.

Deborah’s attention to detail is second to none. The book contains hundreds of illustrations and photographs. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and no truer statement can be said about this book. The graphics are clear and further emphasized with extremely good explanations, which even a novice in the art can make out. Although, I would classify this book as intermediate, it is indeed well suited for any audience from beginner to advanced.

Although, the Nakas are known in the Bonsai World as the “bibles” I have chosen to crown Deborah’s book the same. John Yoshio Naka was one off, if not the founder of Bonsai in North America. His books are his lifelong notes on the subject and are translated from Japanese. The information contained in his books is invaluable. However, because these books were translated from his personal notes, it leaves the reader with many unanswered questions, as I found the detail insufficient at times. Bonsai Techniques Vol II seems to have remedied the situation somewhat but in no way compares to the depth of detail in Deborah’s book. I am not promoting one over the other here, as these books stand on their own merits. I am willing to say, however, that should I have purchased the “Nakas” after Deborah’s book I would have been disappointed somewhat. Notwithstanding, one has to remember the source of the “Nakas”; these were his personal notes. The perceived missing information or detail was in his head and, those whom had the pleasure of meeting John would back up my statement that he was a walking “Bonsai Library”.
 

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Rick Moquin

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Many books mentioned here are of great value, while each have their uniqueness in more than one way, this book IMO is a must for anyone growing bonsais indoors.

Bonsai in your Home
by Paul Lesniewicz
ISBN 0806907819 SC pp.207

The most comprehensive “soft cover” book for indoor bonsai care, highly recommended. If you want to grow indoor bonsai, this book is a must-have, in my opinion. It contains a good overall list of the lighting requirement for the vast majority of inside trees. The care requirement of individual trees is well addressed. Although, the book contains but a few short sections with regards to pruning, styling etc… In my opinion the latter does not diminish the value of this book as, one purchases this book solely for plant selection and care.
 

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Rick Moquin

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My library is extensive and many titles previously mentioned are of great value, each in their own way. If one was limited to owning but a few, then without a doubt it would be: Deborah, the Nakas and Paul's book.

Armed with these, any enthusiast is well on their way, they can and will sustain the enthusiast for their entire journey. Having said that, many other works are extremely valuable in their own way, of which Robert Steven's "Vision of my Soul" is one off. This is a collector's item with limited editions. I have come to find out, the book will indeed return to print this summer.

An example of Robert's visions can be found here.

Not everyone will aspire to such grandeur, or needs to "have" this reference in their library. It is in itself a work of art, and deals mostly with the artistic aspect of bonsai. A definite must for intermediate to advance level enthusiasts, but not a requirement for someone starting their journey.
 

imholte

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One I have not seen mentioned that is very good in my opionion is "Understanding Bonsai" by Pieter Loubser. It is very indepth and quite extensive. One might even say that it rivals Naka I and II. It has alot more writing than the nakas and seems to go more into things.
 

Rick Moquin

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One I have not seen mentioned that is very good in my opionion is "Understanding Bonsai" by Pieter Loubser. It is very indepth and quite extensive. One might even say that it rivals Naka I and II. It has alot more writing than the nakas and seems to go more into things.
Interesting it is the first time I have heard about that one. Perhaps an in depth review would enhance this little known reference.
 

bretts

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Thanks for that Rick I am on the look out for another book and and I thought the Naka books sounded similar to Deborahs. I will get copies but no need to rush. I might get another by Peter Adams
I too found a second hand hard back copy of Deborah's book at a decent price after some searching. It is in good nick and it is now signed. Not one to use with dirty hands;)
 

Graydon

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Tokoname catalog, "Y" issue from 2006 (current one). No, it's not a bonsai book per se but to be able to leaf thru a hundred pages of pots with the sizes listed is quite an experience. Just when you think you know what pot you want you will find 20 more that look better.
 

Rick Moquin

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Tokoname catalog, "Y" issue from 2006 (current one). No, it's not a bonsai book per se but to be able to leaf thru a hundred pages of pots with the sizes listed is quite an experience. Just when you think you know what pot you want you will find 20 more that look better.
... and how do you get your hands on one?
 

Nigel Black

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Oi! How could I have forgotten Ms. Koreshoff? Although there is much overlap between her book and Naka's two volumes, there *ARE* things that are only to be found in one or the other. This makes it worthwhile to have both authors works.

And DO NOT under any circumstance pay the egrigiously criminal prices to be found on eBay for either authors books.


Nigel
 
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imholte

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Interesting it is the first time I have heard about that one. Perhaps an in depth review would enhance this little known reference.
Here is a review on this book found on Amazon.

I agree with this review.

The new "John Naka" of bonsai,
While the late John Yoshio Naka's "Bonsal Techniques 1 and 2" are undisputedly the reference standards for bonsai cultivation, Pieter Loubser has written a work which can easily be compared to Mr. Naka's works. This book is filled with the most essential and detailed information about proper techniques and cultural information for any bonsai enthusiast from beginner to master. The detailed information concerning various species suitable for bonsai is excellent and provides that information in a clear and concise manner. If one were looking for a single book which addresses the heart and soul of bonsai culture, then this is certainly the one to purchase


It has a good Japanese terminology section, glossary, species guide, and indepth information guides on basic and advanced techniques.
 

bretts

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Looks like an interesting book imholte 6 pages referencing Auxin and I wonder what the Raincoat hanger style is?

One great thing I found with Deborah's book was even though it was written in Australia it has a time reference for the northern hemisphere seasons. Some thing we often get annoyed with bonsai books down here. I recently purchased Peter Adams Bonsai with Japanese Maples and even though it is a great book I was a bit annoyed that many references were made to months of year. Being a recent reprint I would think that editors would understand these publications spread the world these days. Surely it would not be hard to say early Spring or late Autum or whatever that corespondes with the month.
 

Hoosteady

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Old thread, might as well try to bring it back to life and see if there are any other good book suggestions...

I really like Yee-sun Wu's Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants book. I have the 1976, 2nd edition. Bought it at Powell's in Portland. Believe it was the Hawthorne shop. I would love to eventually buy a copy of the 1969 first edition, and maybe learn to read Chinese, specifically whichever variation it is written in.
 

jkd2572

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I might have missed these, but Harry Harrington has two great books "inspirations I and II. Belong in everyone's library.
 

tmmason10

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I enjoyed Nick Lenz's book myself. Also really enjoyed Michael Hagedorn's book about his apprenticeship in Japan.
 

cmeg1

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I too am a great fan of deborah koreshoffs book,'Bonsai it's Art Science History andPhilosophy'.I am going to go to th lions club book store where I donated it to see if I can buy it back.I did not realize the jewel I gave away.use copies prices are sky-rocketed for that book.It was actually the only book I have read that mentioned to let shoots grow a bit before pinching back and to tell you the precise time to do root work just as buds are beginning to swell.And to remove top growth when removing root growth.The real need to know stuff.
 

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