Sunday, March 27, 2022

Freestyle Bonsai: How to pot, grow, prune, and shape - Bend the rules of traditional bonsai

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Freestyle Bonsai is a beginner friendly casual introduction and tutorial guide to some of the concepts and techniques of bonsai collected and written by Jerome Kellerhals & Mariannjely Marval. Due out 12th Apr 2022 from Quarto on their Cool Springs Press imprint, it's 160 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is a really well written introduction to bonsai aimed at keen beginner level to expert gardeners. There is a good introduction with some interesting history, followed by bullet point lists of common misconceptions and some definitions of what bonsai actually *is*. The following chapters give a good overview over tools & supplies, plant materials and how to choose for specific purposes, and good beginner friendly chapters on bonsai culture: repotting, styling, and maintenance. The book also contains useful appendices: FAQ, glossary, bibliography, and resources/links lists. The included resources are impressively comprehensive and include resources in most regions in the world, listed by continent/region. The resources include exhibitions and bonsai gardens which can be visited as well as retail suppliers.

I loved the color photos of gorgeous gorgeous bonsai in all their glory, showing a wide variety of species trained into both traditional and modern silhouettes. The included tutorial photos are easy to understand and are carefully positioned such that hands and tools aren't in the way of the "action". The photography is superlative. Worthwhile and inspirational. I was a little taken aback at the cover blurb suggesting that readers "bend the rules of traditional bonsai" but I needn't have worried. The book (and its authors) are knowledgeable and respectful of the ancient art.

Five stars. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, garden groups, makers spaces, and for the home gardener's library.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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