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Bonsai Books
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Bonsai Books

I have been a bonsai enthusiast for 25 years and continually love learning all I can and gaining inspiration from reading and looking at pictures, in as many bonsai books as I can get my hands on.

The art of bonsai is one of those hobbies that’s still not that common, and finding good information can be tricky if you don’t know where to look.

When I first started my obsession with this beautiful art, I would go to lots of the local nurseries and admire their display of bonsai (if they had any!), and I would ask the staff as many questions as I could think of, only to find that it was usually only one staff member who cared for, and knew anything about these mystical little trees, or they were bought wholesale from another grower or nursery, and the staff knew about as much as I did from reading the labels on what they had on display!

It seems loving bonsai will give you an appreciation and an urge to learn about certain aspects of horticulture, but loving horticulture (study of plants) doesn’t necessarily mean you have an appreciation or an urge to learn about bonsai!

Finding a nursery that specialized in bonsai was not an easy task as the closest was at least 2 hours away, the internet was certainly not what it is today, so my only alternative was to buy books to satisfy my thirst for knowledge.

I scoured as many book stores, second hand shops and local fete’s in the hope of finding anything on the subject of miniature trees in pots, the oldest book I could find at the time, and still have in my collection today was from 1965 and sold back then for $1.95.

Best Bonsai Book

With all the books I have collected over the years I cannot say that any one in particular was the best, each book seems to have a little bit of information, a photo or different way of explaining things, that I maybe didn’t get from other books, or at the time didn’t make sense until my knowledge of how these trees grow or the basic techniques had been mastered.

The beauty of the book from 1965 was that it showed me that it is not necessarily about the 100 year old perfectly manicured trees we see in collections from Japan or China today, but about having a go at growing something that may one day be considered a specimen of this art.

Learning to bonsai is not that difficult and I think a lot of people shy away from it because it can be difficult to find relevant information.

My suggestion to anyone is to have a go, if you can keep a tree of any sort alive in a pot, the rest you can learn along the way.

Essential Bonsai Books

I have probably about 6 essential bonsai books in my collection that I continue to go back to for reference on a regular basis.

The majority of these have good quality photos, or basic care instructions for a specific variety of tree that I may not be completely familiar with.

I am a real visual learner, so having lots of pictures to show advanced techniques, or just to show me what a certain variety is capable of looking like over time with the right care, is a great learning tool for me.

Bonsai Books

If you’re a visual learner like me, or you need a little direction to help improve your skills, then have a look at as many bonsai books as you can, find one with lots of photo’s, a well written outline of the basic styles and techniques, and preferably with tree varieties that are specific to your country or region.

Admire what you see in the book, and then learn how you can train and adapt whatever you are growing to fit the style that best suits.

As long as you can keep your tree alive, with time and a little imagination, it has the potential to become a living work of art!


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