Bonsai Inspiration

When it comes to bonsai books I am a great fan of practicalities and inspiring ideas. Their is nothing as bad as buying a book that you don’t feel like lifting up, one that gathers dust and ends up in the collection of possible recyclables. Yes I have bought those books… and no I won’t name them, well not yet! As a bonsai freakcollector in these recessionary times money well spent is a must, so having come across Harry Harrington’s book ‘Bonsai Inspiration’ was refreshing at a practical level.

The book starts out as most books with an introduction to Bonsai, its history and growing challenges for the beginner. This section is only two pages and then it gets into the good stuff.

Developing your own Bonsai.

The book explains in a series of chapters called the ‘Progression Series’, how a tree is designed, cared for and styled into a finished product. This is different from most bonsai books in that it explains from day one ‘How to Bonsai’.

bonsai privet
(c) Harry Harrington

Take the example…’Using material from the garden for bonsai’. The elements of this section explain that over-time your garden shrubs or trees (if your a good gardener) have been pruned every year or so and now exist with the desired height that you require. So transforming these from the ground to a pot is easier to achieve. Yes their are challenges in this transformation, but these are well explained by Harry. Take the example of the Common Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) progression series. In this, Harry explains from day one in August 2004, how this garden hedge tree was plucked from the ground, trained in its staging area for a number of years, how the deadwood was treated and like the inevitable masterpiece you come to expect it was transformed into beautiful piece of art. This is explained in a stage by stage practical and is photo documented to make it easier to understand.

Another example of this practical application can be found in ‘Developing Bonsai from Airlayering’. Airlayering is a great technique for growing your collection. It is a technique that has been used for generations by gardeners. With Bonsai their is a degree of difficulty as you are dealing with not just propagation, but styling. Where is the best place to make your cut, what is the best type of tree to use and how to develop your little stump, eh tree. Harry gives an excellent instruction in the pre and post creation phases, thereby guiding you into great possibilities.

(c) Harry Harrington

Is this book aimed at the beginner, possibly not the absolute beginner, but more the advanced one. It does not go into detail for anyone starting out as most beginners can be afraid to touch their prized tree. It does offer great advice if you want to make that transition from advanced beginner to an inspiring artist.

Other sections:

  • Creating Bonsai from field grown material.
  • Developing ready grown or ‘Finished’ Bonsai.
  • Developing Bonsai from nursery stock.
  • Developing Bonsai from air-layering.
  • Creating Bonsai from trees collected in the wild

Book Name: Bonsai Inspiration

Author: Harry Harrington

ISBN: 978-953-56515-0-5

Number of Pages: 272 (Full Colour)

Price: £24.95

Link to purchase. Click here.

Thinking of Spring!

When it comes time to plan a spring garden, there are many designs from which to choose. One of the serenest and most enjoyable garden designs is a Japanese garden design. A Japanese garden is a simple garden design that creates a space that fosters calm and is perfect for meditation. The following is a guide to the elementary principles to understand to make your Japanese garden a reality.

One idea that is hard to understand at first is that everything in this style of garden needs to emulate nature to the best of its ability. That means no sharp angles can be used. You cannot use things that wouldn’t exist in nature, like a fountain for instance. Another idea essential to the design of a Japanese meditation garden is a sense of balance. These gardens are essentially efforts to recreate a natural landscape in a small space. Therefore, everything is magnified. Rocks, for instance, take on the role of mountains. Therefore, you need to take care in the size of the elements that become a part of your garden design. Perhaps the hardest element for the Western mind to grasp when designing Japanese gardens is the emptiness that they require. This empty space is known as ma. Ma defines all of the elements that surround it, and is defined by all of the things around it. Ma is one of the most important elements in this kind of Zen garden, and it is one of the most important elements to include in your design in order to create a space that encourages meditation.

A final key to the design of this style of garden is to create a sense of enclosure. This garden is meant to be a separate space that is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Therefore, it is necessary to surround it with something that shelters it. This is often a bamboo fence, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be surrounded by pine trees or other natural elements that will give it a feeling of enclosure. The most important elements to include in a Japanese garden design are rocks, sand, and water. The plants are secondary. Remember, you want this space to be minimalist with harmony and balance. Decide where to place your rocks first, and then layout the sand and water around them. This is the best way to create the most harmonious space. Everything else is secondary.