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 Post subject: Book Review: 'The Complete Book of Bonsai' - Harry Tomlinson
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:29 am
Posts: 515
Location: Brisbane, Australia
'The Complete Book Of Bonsai'
by Harry Tomlinson
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Dorling Kindersley (UK): 224pp., USD$39.95**; UKP-14.99
First published 1990
ISBN: 0-86824-411-2
Cat: 635.9772
Reviewed by Hector Johnson*

Harry Tomlinson has, with this book, compiled a brilliant composition of bonsai information and techniques for the beginner. An extensive range of photographs, ranging from styling techniques to pot selection, this is a very informative work. It lives up to its cover billing, as "A Practical Guide To The Art & Cultivation Of Bonsai."

171 colour plates ensure there is no shortage of photographic reference for the reader, though many of the trees portrayed are in the early stages of development, rather than specimen trees. This, to me, merely increases its value as a primer, if you will, for the enthusiastic beginner.

Of particular interest to me is the consistently high quality of the pots shown in the book, with many of them having been made by Harry's wife, professional potter, Petra Engelke. The other outstanding feature of this book is the wealth of species-specific information provided in the table at the back, with cultivation, pruning and potting notes on many hundreds of species and cultivars.

Harry Tomlinson is the owner of Greenwoods Garden Nursery, in Nottingham, England. Consequently, much of the care and seasonal information is aimed at the English grower and care should be taken to adjust for local climatic conditions, if you use this book as a comprehensive reference guide.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn the fundamentals of bonsai, especially if they do not have access to a qualified teacher. The information is very honest and simple; the photography extraordinarily clear.

**Prices may vary somewhat, with offerings from online booksellers such as http://www.amazon.com being substantially cheaper than the RRP
*About Hector Johnson
Hector Johnson is an amateur bonsai enthusiast from Brisbane, Australia. In 16 years of involvement in the art of bonsai he has managed to amass a modest collection of trees of reasonable quality. His recent involvement with the Art of Bonsai project, as editor of print articles, is a rewarding and welcome activity, allowing him to contribute to the development of bonsai on the worldwide scene.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:38 am 
For some reason, the mulberry tree on the cover is my favorite amongst all the bonsai I've ever seen in my life. To me this alone makes the book one of my favorites. With the risk of going off-topic, I have to say that mulberry is THE most underrated species in bonsai. The character of this little tree is a living proof of that.

I hope that it is still alive and doing well. I would certainly be willing to pay a very high price if I had a chance to buy it. May be it's because to me it symbolizes all the reasons why I started bonsai in the first place.

I've been working with half a dozen mulberries for about eight years now. They are like a good old faithful dog, never quitting on you, always faithful and asking almost nothing in exchange.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:13 am
Posts: 1190
Location: Los Angeles, California
The above guest is me.

Whenever I look at this book, it takes me back to the time when I started bonsai. What a magical time that was! And it always filled me with excitement whenever I sat down to savor the the contents of this book. I remember greatly admiring the trees in it, but it also made me feel that I can one day have trees of similar caliber. Using lots of european species helped to dispel the mystery and brought bonsai closer to me. Some japanese books had a mysterious and foreign aura about them that didn't inspire the confidence in me that Harry's book did. It is one of the classics of bonsai literature.

I hope that the day will come when that feeling of excitement and admiration is back again, like I had it when I was a beginner. I know that many years need to pass until that beginner's mind is back again. This book will always be there to steer me in the right direction.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:45 pm
Posts: 99
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
I agree with Attila......this book had helped dispel me too about the mystery of bonsai, and the variation of species really had inspired me to take off on the journey to bonsai.
Even today, I enjoy going through the book with the same pleasure like when I had started, and I strongly recommend this book to beginners in my country.
This book is very close to my heart.


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