Book: Bonsai, by Fiona Hopes

Bonsai by Fiona HopesTitle: Bonsai
Author: Fiona Hopes, photographs by Deirdre Rooney
Source: Veddma library
Available online

Notes: The book starts with an overview of the tradition of Bonsai in China, Japan, other Asian countries, and the Western interpretation of the art. It covers briefly the design principles of Bonsai, such as the “two thirds rule” based on the mathematical ratio phi (1:1.618), scale, proportion, balance, light and shade, tone, colour, texture and pattern, rhythm and movement.  It goes over the classical Bonsai styles, tools and techniques needed to prune and shape Bonsai, and includes a brief listing of species that work well, as well as pruning techniques and basic care tips throughout the year.

After the introduction, the book focuses on four groups of trees: conifers and evergreen trees, deciduous trees, evergreen shrubs, and deciduous shrubs. Each tree listing is accompanied by a photo, brief description, and quick reference of best styles and sizes, general case, training techniques and common problems.

The author insists that the art of Bonsai is an outdoor art, making an exception for tropical trees which would have to be kept indoors and provided with the correct level of humidity. The overall impression I have gathered is that in Canadian climate with harsh winters (and in Ontario incredibly hot and humid summers), cultivating Bonsai trees would constitute quite an undertaking. The author suggests moving the trees into a shed or a garage to protect them from the elements in the extremely harsh weather, but not bringing them indoors, which implies a need of an external structure being available for that purpose. If one was to pursue this further in Canada, it seems it would be a good idea to find literature that deals with the specifics of the local climate, as well as perhaps find a local organization of Bonsai cultivators to learn of possible workarounds.

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