Bonsai with Japanese Maples synopsis

With their delicate foliage, seasonal colour changes, and intricate pattern of branching, Japanese maples are among the most popular and suitable plants for bonsai design. In this long awaited book, internationally renowned expert Peter Adams discusses both the specific horticultural needs of Japanese maples as bonsai subjects and illustrates proven techniques for creating and maintaining beautiful specimens.

Bonsai with Japanese Maples Author: Peter Adams Publisher: Timber Press Year: 2006 2nd edition Cover: Hard cover with jacket ISBN-13: 978-0881928099 ISBN-10: 0881928097


Bonsai with Japanese Maples by Peter Adams is a fantastic resource written by a true artist of bonsai. Peter was a very active participant of this art and had worked with trees for over 50 years. He had written many books about bonsai, this one being one of the more recent. As the title suggests, this is a specialist book that takes an in depth look at all aspects of Japanese Maples. The book covers everything from their care, to development and refinement techniques, as well as numerous case studies. The audience who, “Bonsai with Japanese Maples,” is aimed at are people who have some experience at bonsai and are interested in learning everything about this species of tree and also the adventurous bonsai artist.

The first thing you notice when you flick through this book is how well it is presented. It is printed in full colour and has many photos of exceptional examples of maple bonsai trees. The author was also a particularly accomplished illustrator, with many of his drawings used through out the book. These drawings are great at showing examples of certain techniques as well as planning and his future vision of the tree’s development. I particularly enjoyed seeing the illustrations of the future direction of a tree’s development, as it gives a clear insight into Peter’s vision and thoughts on styling. Most pages in this book have photos and hand drawn pictures that illustrate the method, technique or progression of what is being presented in the text. I personally think that this is very important in this type of book. As they say a picture can be like a thousand words and this is especially the case when looking at an art.

The writing like the imagery is also very well structured with plenty of headings that follow a logical progression. These help to make it easier to follow especially when you are studying a technique that you want to apply. It is a book that you can read cover to cover, that will give you plenty of insights into maples. It is also a reference type of book that you can use when you have something in mind you want to learn or try out. If you wanted, for example to try a root over stone technique you can find this section very quickly and have 5 pages of information at your fingertips. It will give you an introduction, then a look into what stones and trees are suitable, followed by four years of development techniques. The text itself is very well written and descriptive in nature but does use a bit of bonsai & gardening language. The language used is mostly easy to understand but there are section that are more difficult especially in regards to explaining complex ideas. All in all it is very well written and accomplishes what the author set out to do.

The second half of Bonsai with Japanese maples takes a look at specific trees. There are 23 different trees that he does a case study on. I personally loved this section. I enjoy seeing the techniques being applied and seeing the results. All these examples are however already quite developed and on the way to becoming masterpieces. It is more subtle changes to the aesthetics of these trees that he applies to lift them to the next level. It is a excellent idea having all these examples in the book and seeing what can be done. The only negative I have about this section is there were no beginner type trees. It would have been beneficial to see a few examples of trees with no styling/developing work taken to an exceptional level. It is understandable that this takes a considerable amount of time so the examples earlier in the book balance this out.

In conclusion Bonsai with Japanese Maples is an excellent book. In terms of Bonsai books, it is very specialised in that it only focuses on Japanese Maples. This species is extensively used in bonsai so although it is a narrowly focused on maples, this book has a wide appeal. Many of the techniques could be applied to other species of deciduous trees however there were many that were optimal to Maple. There is no doubt that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience shared in this book making it one that I am proud to have on my shelf.