'The Growing Tree' Revised Edition
by Brayton F. Wilson
The University of Massachusetts Press: 138 pp., $30.00
Reviewed by Will Heath*
Brayton Wilson Ph. D. is a Professor of Forestry at the University of California, Berkeley. His book, reviewed here, is often quoted in publications and is required reading for forestry students around the world.
With this work the author shows he is a highly competent authority on plant physiology with his precise, technical coverage. The information delivered is highly accurate and comprehensive, yet easy to read and understand. The book flows smoothly through such subjects as forking in woody roots, apical control of bud development, and movement of pine candles.
Of the many chapters in this book two of particular interest to me: 'Thickening From Cambial Activity' and 'Orientation and Movement From Cambial Activity.' Both of these chapters have helped me understand and take advantage of the way trees respond to outside forces. This, in turn, has helped me with my understanding and care of bonsai.
With information on such diverse subjects as mycorrhizae (beneficial root fungi), elongation and leaf production this book covers every aspect of how and why trees grow and what happens when a part of the system fails.
It should be pointed out this is not a book about bonsai. The artistic side of you will not be fed here, as the only chapter dealing with pattern and form is about distribution of branches, leaves, and roots for maximum efficiency (Though it should be pointed out that is part of why good bonsai look "right"). However, the illustrations are as clean and straight to the point as is the text.
This book is a must for any person who is interested in better understanding the horticultural aspects of what is happening with their bonsai, and why. It also is a tool that has proved useful for myself in the past for disproving the occasional and outrageous bonsai myths that one hears.
Ed note: While writing this review, the question was posed as to why write a review on a forum that embraces the art of bonsai when the book being reviewed has nothing to do with art or with bonsai directly. In answer, a serious bonsaist cannot know enough about plant physiology, therefore a serious book about such should well be included in our reviews.
* About Will Heath
**Photographs used with permission of Brayton F. Wilson