Question: Alternatives to Naka's Bonsai Techniques II

RedPanda

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The cost of that book is sky high and can prob be better spent elsewhere say classes, or masakuni tools.

Soooo can anyone recommend alternative books to Naka's bonsai techniques 2 that covers the same topics?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Hate to say it, all the bonsai books I know of are quite out of date. Bjorn Bjornholm, Ryan Neil (Mirai), Todd Schlaffer, Peter Tea, and any of the recently trained in Japan artists working in the USA are the way to go. All offer classes, or on line tutorials. A few on line sessions with any of these guys will be better than any book. Last "good bonsai book" I saw was put out by Colin Lewis nearly 20 years ago. Naka wrote his books 60 years ago. All quite out of date.

Actually just stay caught up reading new posts here on BNut will be more informative than any book out there.

I take that back. William Valavanis, his most recend bonsai tome is really quite good, as is his monthly magazine. International Bonsai.

Bill's website is here: http://www.internationalbonsai.com/

For top notch quality bonsai information in print, in English, you can not beat International Bonsai.

I have great respect for Ryan Neil, but he is not the "only" USA artist worth following. The International Bonsai magazine features many of the best USA artists with articles every issue. Definitely look into Bjorn at Eisien. an the others.
 

RedPanda

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After the basics book everything else is either class, mags (both either single or subscription) or our wonderful forums... got it. Thanks.


Ill stop at my 4 books for basics and intermediate knowledge.... at most ill do is either inspiration or specialty topics (say maple trees, mini/mame or penjing)
 

rockm

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FWIW, NAka's Bonsai Technique books are not "must have" bonsai instruction manuals. They never were. They were made from Naka's instructional papers that he handed out to his bonsai group--so most of the growing advice is Southern California specific and not really all that useful elsewhere. A Lot of the growing info in them is also very outdated. However, Naka's artistry comes through in many ways in both volumes--from his drawings and ideas on how to develop trees. Techniques II also comes with about the most extensive explanation of bonsai pot elements I've seen, as well as other design ideas. They're very much worth having, but not necessary.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Not a book, but our own Walter Pall's blog has helped me tremendously. His take on bonsai is different...............but different can be good.
 
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just curious, what techniques or knowledge from these books is out of date or has been improved on?
 

Ohmy222

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agree with everyone. I like BT2 quite a bit but not necessary. Some is outdated but I still enjoy the books. They do have some techniques that you still don't see used. There may be a reason but still. The illustrations are really nice and were pretty pivotal for me to visualize things when I began. I really believe drawings are often more helpful than photographs. I am shocked they haven't been re-released. Seems everyone wants BT1 and BT2 and the Nick Lenz book so you would think they would always be available. Someone should make a nice hard back edition with some extra/new photos. Maybe add a better flow to them and include some of his Satsuki book as well.
 

RedPanda

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mmmm then a question: Do I have "most" of my bases covered with the following books?

- The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook: The Complete Guide for Beginners by Kirose Yukio (my "base" book)

- Introduction to Bonsai: The Complete Illustrated Guide for Beginners by Bonsai Sekai mag Illus Kyosuke Gun (illustrations are sometimes better than pictures and Kyosuke Gun was the most reocmmended when it comes to step by step drawings)

- Introductory Bonsai/Secret Techniques of Bonsai by Masakuni (mainly for tool care and proper usage of tools, no other book has that info which is weird)

- Botany for Bonsai by Enrique Castano de la Serna (saw it used bought it... sadly I see cheaper used copies now =( )

I am thinking of getting Chan's MasterClass book being it is pretty much mostly how to get bonsai stock, but not sure how much additional info vs the above 4 books.
I do plan to look at the penjing books, but the online library it seems not much technique or explanation and more of pictures so not too high priority unless someone can give recommendations.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Not sure how many bases you have covered by buying lots of beginners books.

I’ve got lots of books including a couple of the ones you mentioned. Many go over the same material as the others. Some, however, are more interesting.

image.jpg

The first book you mentioned, Ultimate Bonsai Handbook is pretty good for beginners. It covers lots of basics thinly though. It has 4-6 page sections on many trees showing basic tasks for each. It’s kind of the Readers Digest of bonsai.

The second one I have is The Secret Techniques off Bonsai. The tools section is about six pages. One could do better on the internet as far as maintaining and sharpening tools.

The other two I do not have. The Introduction to Bonsai appears not to be released until Jan ‘22?

Botany for Bonsai by Enrique Castano de la Serna looks interesting though. I’ve heard it’s not the greatest translation and editing yet I've heard that before only to find the book was ok.

That said learning your horticulture of each type of tree you own is always job one…. Including pruning techniques. Building Nebari and proper wiring comes next.

imho it’s good to get started right off by buying smaller tree of a couple easy to work-species of trees and learn these really well, using books of that species, internet, this forum before diving into dozens of species.

Good luck
DSD sends
 

RedPanda

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Yea I saw the Ultimate bonsai handbook is a bit um thin in some areas..... hence I needed something that goes more into detail which is why I bought the illustrated book. But it does have tons of examples once you get into the "tree species" section, so it is decent unlike other books which the tree section is more of a show off picture section.

The Introduction to Bonsai digital book is out now, the printed is pending Jan (I ordered both being I had Amazon credits from delayed shipping... but I prefer paper book in my hands being my touch screen tablet does not respond well to my fingers)

thats the thing, the internet has billions of posts which one needs to sort out from the "junk" info from the real info and even then im still second guessing if I got the correct info even afterwards. That and usage and tool mantaince is pretty skant regardless of source of info...
4-6 pages is enough to cover them all tbh, (the original book its only like 1-2 pages mostly text). But it feels like the book is about the same as the Ultimate Bonsai just way way less pictures (fyi the book is basically a reprint of the original with updated pictures for items that dont have pictures... in which they didnt bother to expand much (which was a waste, they could have spent more time to expand it more and have a blast of a book.
But I was annoyed by the fact while they showed knife with a trad water stone but without much info, and the most annoying is that the scissors/shears they showed oil type sticks and not the trad water stones.
Still 20-30 dollars to save time to "search" for info and not have second opinion on it after you followed it is good! (which is also why we buy bonsai books and follow classes.. ideally not wrong info books/classes)




Not sure how many bases you have covered by buying lots of beginners books.

I’ve got lots of books including a couple of the ones you mentioned. Many go over the same material as the others. Some, however, are more interesting.

View attachment 413859

The first book you mentioned, Ultimate Bonsai Handbook is pretty good for beginners. It covers lots of basics thinly though. It has 4-6 page sections on many trees showing basic tasks for each. It’s kind of the Readers Digest of bonsai.

The second one I have is The Secret Techniques off Bonsai. The tools section is about six pages. One could do better on the internet as far as maintaining and sharpening tools.

The other two I do not have. The Introduction to Bonsai appears not to be released until Jan ‘22?

Botany for Bonsai by Enrique Castano de la Serna looks interesting though. I’ve heard it’s not the greatest translation and editing yet I've heard that before only to find the book was ok.

That said learning your horticulture of each type of tree you own is always job one…. Including pruning techniques. Building Nebari and proper wiring comes next.

imho it’s good to get started right off by buying smaller tree of a couple easy to work-species of trees and learn these really well, using books of that species, internet, this forum before diving into dozens of species.

Good luck
DSD sends
 
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The Warm Canuck

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I'm no expert but most of the books ive read and own are really redundant.

But I recently purchased Modern Bonsai Practice's and I love it! Not to mention Mr Palls excellent pictures.
IMG_20211230_135407.jpg
 
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rockm

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I've been collecting bonsai books for years. Some are better than others, others are redundant, some are outdated, some remain pretty damn valid.

Naka's books are worth having for perspective--including his azalea book (if you have $500 and can find a copy). Nick Lenz's for the humor and hands-on collecting advice. Saburo Kato's Forest and Rock Planting book is a bible for those. I've got Modern Bonsai Practice, it's ok, a bit overconfident, but OK--an undersung similar book "The Bonsai Book of Practical Facts"...Authors to look for Craig Coussins, Michael Hagedorn, Peter Adams. I'll go out on a limb and name Peter Chan's books, as well as Harry Tomlinson's books as still pretty good.
 

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PA_Penjing

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As a deciduous guy I'm always referencing and rereading articles on bonsai4me.com (Sometimes referred to as b4me). Harry Harrington is an artist that I admire a lot. His "advanced topics" articles get pretty detailed with styling info
 

Treefer

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I never see this one mentioned, but I use it a lot for quick reference when considering a new species. It is pocket sized (almost), and really comes in handy when there is no computer around. Not a bunch of BONSAI technique stuff but good plant info. Of my dozen or so bonsai books, I go to this the most..IMG_20211230_154215.jpg
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Like @rockm I confess to being a bonsai book junky. It didn’t help that for Christmas and birthdays my family and kids all send me more.
image.jpg
If you ask me my favorite books, my answer is it depends. Since my rookie year I read many books, trying to read very old books up to more modern authors. I have lots of favorites for different things, but would say beginner books by the authors @rockm mentioned are in line with my view point.

If aI was to mention two general bonsai books I like a lot where I am now, they are:

Bonsai, it’s Art, Science, and Philosophy History by Deborah R. Koreshoff. Well done, wide content and solid. A bit outdated on media, but most books are.

Understanding Bonsai by Pieter Loubser. Lots of techniques one doesnt run across nowadays. Straightforward , lots of illustrations. I’ve the first edition, I heard a second edition has come out. If so look for it.

btw, not to forget, I supplemented these readings with online courses by Bonsai Empire and would recommend those courses up through intermediate.

…. hmm credible Internet bonsai sources…. I’ll list only three at the risk of slighting others, so sorry about this.

Bonsai Mirai‘s topical and practical library is big and growing. Ryan’s seasonal course (4 videos by season) and wiring videos are items I’d highly recommend even if you only get a trial subscription as a beginner. View these and take good notes. No book can consistently approach the practical/technical learning here. Try to ignore Ryan’s word verbal salad and focus directly on the practical/theoretical knowledge he is imparting. If you can do this right off you stand to gain lots in a short time. and yes, I am a member

Also Bjorn‘s Bonsai-U would be highly recommended. He is an outstanding, clear speaking bonsai teacher. Perhaps the best teacher of the lot. I’m not a member anymore simply because my volunteering at the Pacific Bonsai Museum and my own projects is cutting into my screen and reading time. Hopefully I’ll have more time in the next couple months

As controversial it seems by some folks here, I’ll come right out and say that Peter Chan has a real lot to offer a beginner, if only to get started and keep motivated and plumb the treasure trove of knowledge he has. His vision of making bonsai easy for all isn’t for bonsai technical purists, but serves to show that bonsai is not a mystical discipline, but possible for the everyday person.

I wrote a reply in this thread about a year and a half ago. Maybe it would be of interest to you too.

Good Luck
DSD sends
 

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