The photography is top notch
I found some aspects very good, and some lacking. The vast topic of bonsai is hard to condense to this format.
At first glance this book is very well constructed, for a paper edition. At 8 1/4″ x 11 1/2″ and 287 pages it will fit on most book shelves. It would also make a great coffee table book. The photography is top-notch. All of the bonsai and accents are from her personal collection and are of the highest quality. I like the multiple views of some of the trees in leaf and defoliated. These are very important attributes for my book purchases.
Amy Laing is a professor at Seattle Pacific University. Where she instructs in the fine and performing arts. Amy had traveled extensively teaching and promoting bonsai. Her lectures and demonstrations always attract high attendances. Because of this the content is very heavy on the history of bonsai, a little to heavy for me. Amy’s point of view is mostly from the Chinese side of the art form.
The description of classifications needs to be expanded. It is very vague and lacking. It needs to have the Japanese terms and size requirements would help. The section on styles is disappointing. It also needs to be expanded. Like where each comes from in nature and illustrations on each would help. Coming from the Chinese point of view the sections on group plantings is extensive and well illustrated.
Because a bonsai has its own life force and ever changing variety, it may be thought of as a living sculpture. It may also live in the same pot for decades, making it a living antique.
As far as the how to, is where this book excels. The horticulture chapter is basic but gets the fine aspects across. The section on soils is very good at explaining on how and why it works. A trouble shooting section on pest and pesticides offers sound practices on each treatments. I found the chapter on raw bonsai material very informative. This section on how to choose material is very good for beginners. In my opinion the section on bonsai design is vague. The how to part is missing the mark for me. I really enjoyed the sections on preparation for display and appreciation very fulfilling.
This book was first printed in 1995 much of the information is still cutting edge. The topic of bonsai is a vast area that would take volumes to cover each aspects. In the confinements of this book Amy has touched on most of them. The author writes in a style that comes from the heart. She fell in love with bonsai as relaxation tool in recovering from a serious illness. She has a deep adoration for nature and gardening and horticulture. This is a must have addition to any enthusiast library. It is a good reference on many topics.
[tabgroup][tab title=”Publishers Summary”]
Cultivating bonsai is a fine art, and this extravagantly produced volume, filled with hundreds upon hundreds of lavish full-color photographs, showcases the very best and most beautiful specimens. Many of the trees have won international awards, were gifts bestowed by heads of state, and have been featured in TV documentaries. Some have even been the subjects of a commemorative stamp series. Professor Amy Liang, a world-famous leader in the field, surveys the history of bonsai in its many schools and styles, and offers practical techniques and highly detailed instructions for those who want to shape and nurture their own trees. The remarkable images display dazzling miniature evergreens, flowering and fruited trees, and their foliage.
[/tab][tab title=”What the Critic’s are Saying”]
“With 288 color pages, Liang’s is one of the best [books on the subject]. Her book includes a breath-taking photo gallery of bonsai, basic styles, group planting, plant physiology, cultivation, propagation, transplanting and repotting, and training and dwarfing–in other words, everything the bonsai grower needs to know.”–Booklist
Mitchell received this book from ofBonsai Magazine as payment for this review.[/tab]