There are many reasons why you might decide to pick up a book about Bonsai at one time or another. For someone new to the craft, having a book can provide step by step instructions, general principles on the art. It might even be a good idea for someone who is not sure that Bonsai is for them and needs more information before they take the plunge.
Below are a list of books that are well suited for the beginner and even some of us who may have been doing this for a while. Since we all look for different things in books and also due to the fact that one single book might not provide all the information needed, these books have been chosen with a number of things in mind including how easy they are to understand, price range (as a beginner you may not wish to spend a lot of money on a book) how detailed they are and how useful they have been to others. They are neither exhaustive nor listed in any particular order.
These books will be available at most good bookstores but are also available online.
Bonsai 101 Essential Tips by Harry Tomlinson
This book is an excellent choice for beginners or someone deciding if bonsai is something they would be interested in, since it has enough information to get you started on your first plant. It is organized into various sections including where to get your Bonsai, design principles like creating balance, bonsai styles and displays. It also has step by step instructions on how to create a bonsai. It also lists examples of useful tools.There are lots of pictures that not only appeal to more visually inclined readers but also give examples of beautiful plants to aspire to.
The Complete Book of Bonsai by Harry Tomlinson
This is another beginner friendly book. Like the one above, is has detailed information on topics like how to create bonsai from seedling, cutting or if you are buying your plant from the garden center. There is also a detailed section on the different styles that can be achieved in bonsai and how they can be displayed in various types of containers. The section on trees and shrubs suited to bonsai can be very useful especially of you intent to grow your plant from seed. It also has interesting information on how Bonsai has developed over the centuries.
For me what stands out in this book would have to be the colorful pictures of the plants in fact more than more than 100 depicting different species including English Elm, European White Birch. Because of this this I actually think it would make a good coffee table book.
All About Bonsai by
It has lots of pictures and line drawings showcasing trees and shrubs and also techniques on how to care for your plant. Some of the topics covered include; tips for beginners on how to take care of trees during the different seasons of the year, watering, fertilizing, pruning g and shaping, step by step guide to growing and training the plant, how to choose tools.
If you are looking for a beginner book on a budge then this might be the one for you. This book was written in 2004, you can a copy fairly cheaply as second hand. However, if you are looking for a book with lots of pictures then this might not be the one for you though as it has less pictures than more recent books but I truly feel it makes up for it on the level of instruction given.
The Bonsai Workshop by
For the more visual learners there more than 402 color pictures and 68 black and white illustrations to feast your eyes on. These are accompanied by detailed and easy to understand instructions and text. Worthy of mention is the detailed section on soil (optimum requirements and how to prepare sol for bonsai.
Generally this book has a lot of information but might not be the first option if it is going to be the only resource for someone starting out. The reason I say this is because omits some details for example the types of trees suited for bonsai which I think would be valuable information.
The Art of Bonsai by Yuji Yoshimura-san
So this book was first written in 1978. It is a practical, easy to understand book that simplifies the art of bonsai. For many beginners myself included, the idea of even buying your first plant can be intimidating. This book however places the art within the hands of anyone willing to follow the general guidelines of bonsai. With its clear explanations, would not hesitate recommending this book.
It is worthwhile to note though that if you prefer a book with many colorful pictures then this might not be the book for you because it is on black and white.
Bonsai Techniques I and II by John Yoshio Naka-san
John Yoshio Naka-San is well respected within the world of Bonsai and with god reason too. Despite this, was a bit hesitant to include his book/s on this list but that has mostly to do with price.It should be mentioned that this book comes in 2 different volumes.
The fact that he was truly a great bonsai artist comes through this book. The book is an easy read without any fluffing he gets straight to the point. Infect the book actually comes across as a collection of working notes from years of experience experimenting and learning from his own plants.
He simplifies bonsai, has included many drawing that make techniques user friendly and easier to understand.
You should be warned however that this is not a glossy book and since Naka-san passed away in 2004 the price of this book has gone even higher. Is it worth the price, I would like to think so.
This straight and easy to understand book covers several topics including how to care for your tree.
It has numerous pictures.
Price is pocket friendly
This is another book by Colin Lewis
It is easy to read and well organized into sections.
Detailed book covering various topics including selections and caring for plants and how to keep them healthy. Worthy of note is the fact that it contains specific information on how to care for different species including hackberry, quince, cypress, coton easter cedar ficus, juniper among others. It also talks has information on things to look for when choosing a tree.
There are pictures of bonsai trees but also pests and disease to look out for.
This book first written in 2001 explains the basics of Bonsai and how to care for them including techniques and maintenance of plants. The imagery in the book includes drawn artwork and 20 colored pictures of plants. Although this is a small number in comparison with other books on the subject, it includes both young plants and older bonsai plants the fact that this book was written in 2001 means that you can pick it up second hand which is always a plus in my book.