Book Review - "Introduction to Bonsai" by Robert Kempinski
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Author:  Will Heath [ Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Book Review - "Introduction to Bonsai" by Robert Kempinski

Introduction to Bonsai’
‘Growing and Appreciating Bonsai Across the Globe’

by Robert Kempinski
Haskill Creek Publishing: 139 pp., $27.95
ISBN 798-1-60530-990-3

Reviewed by Will Heath*

The title of this book aptly describes the content within. It is an introduction to bonsai book and, like many other introduction books that have been published over the years; it covers the basics of bonsai. Growing, collecting, designing, maintaining, and displaying bonsai are well covered, as are soils, fertilizers, grafting, pruning, wiring, tool care, and other important subjects.

If the subjects mentioned above were all the book offered I would praise the author for presenting the basics of bonsai in a clear precise manner that outshines other books that have attempted to do the same. The book covers these basic subjects in a manner that is easy to read and understand, while introducing some information and techniques that are not covered in older publications.


Surprisingly, this book goes beyond the typical introduction format incorporating a strong lean toward the artistic side of bonsai within its pages. The author leads the reader through artistic grammar of bonsai styles and through the bonsai art cycle, introducing some new concepts and highlighting bonsai as an art form.

The reader is taken around the world with many full color photographs of some of the best bonsai in the world. This is a refreshing change from the typical sticks in pots and poor examples of bonsai found in many bonsai books. This book shows bonsai at its finest, offering the reader inspiration and knowledge of what bonsai is supposed to be.

The book also offers additional information on appreciating bonsai and socializing within bonsai, information that is rare in publications, but which is important, especially to those just starting out in bonsai.


It is risky for a person to attempt to write an introduction to bonsai book, with so many already wrote, but this book succeeds quite well, giving the reader a well-rounded source of knowledge, while introducing the artistic side of bonsai, a subject too long ignored.

Containing progressions, explanatory photographs, illustrations, and well-worded explanations, the book is well thought out and presents bonsai in a manner that will be enjoyed by all. Although aimed at the beginner, this book will make an excellent tool and source of inspiration for anyone interested in the art of bonsai.


The only disappointments I experienced were with the layout, which seems too “template” based and I would have liked to see larger pictures, especially of the world-class trees featured in the book.

* About Will Heath

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