'The Complete Book Of Bonsai'
by Harry Tomlinson
Dorling Kindersley (UK): 224pp., USD$39.95**; UKP-14.99
First published 1990
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.