Suggestions for good bonsai books - guides etc

Hi all, I know this is a difficult question to answer, but I would love to hear: which is the single most helpful bonsai text you own?

I’m also curious if anyone has had a look a Peter Warren’s new book - I can’t find too many reviews out there.

1 Like

I honestly think Peter’s book is currently the best book to learn bonsai from. If you’re looking for basics or just learning, there isn’t a better one that I’ve seen. He also has a world wide perspective which I really appreciate. :smile:


The best book you can get is from Taiwan. It is translated now. Written by Master Cheng Cheng Kung.


Books? Are they like blogs only more papery?
I agree with everything Dan said.

+1 @Boon_Manakitivipart for the Bonsai Shari SiDiao books.

For styling, any single copy of the Kokufu-ten Exhibit books from the last 20 years.


Um - Dan, Which Peter? There are several authors of that first name.

Boon… Does he cover a lot of deciduous trees or is his focus mostly pines?

You mentioned:
The best book you can get is from Taiwan. It is translated now. Written by Master Cheng Cheng Kung.

@5337 John, the book covers fiber carving of primarily junipers with some black pine work. There are two volumes. The second has extensive coverage of development of ficus bonsai with some very interesting advanced techniques. It also shows multi-year progression of elm, silverberry and a number of other examples.

In my opinion this is a very dense book that may be difficult for beginners to understand. And the material used for the fiber carving would be difficult to find in the US. The closest I’ve seen was ground-grown from Telperion farms in Oregon. But, the techniques are great and can inform you on what to reach for.


Anyone read “Bonsai from the wild” by Nick Lenz. Figure anyone who makes trees like this (below) might have some good ideas to share.


1 Like

I bought the book. I returned the book. I thought it would cover more common deciduous trees and how to work with the trees. The book, I recall, covered a lot of trees collected up in the mountains somewhere. I just don’t live in or near the mountains. Trees from the wild meant something different to me in the Midwest. I usually buy a book because it thoroughly covers trees that are of interest to me. The book may be perfect for another person with interest in the trees covered.

This book covered more of what I think of when I explore trees from the wild.

When I started out, the book Growing & Displaying Bonsai was really helpful…I still frequently read through the book today years later. The book The Living Art of Bonsai covered a variety of subjects very well. I enjoyed the knowledgeable straightforward approach that Amy writes.

Zack, I was responding directly to Paul’s question about Peter Warren’s book.

Try Bonsai Techniques 1 and 2 by John Naka.

Paul - have you found any books to be especially helpful? If not, what are you most looking for in a bonsai book?

@bonsaitonight My first ever bonsai book (and my most treasured) is called Bonsai in South Africa by Rudi Adam. He actually studied under John Naka, and on reading an online version of Naka’s 'Techniques" I discovered that much of Rudi’s book reproduces techniques and lessons from John’s.

So that book was a fantastic introduction to bonsai for me. Now I am looking to expand my bonsai reading to more contemporary artists, hence the interest in Peter Warren’s book.

@samuel I would love to own a copy of Naka’s volumes, but they are nearly impossible to find, and prohibitively expensive to boot.

Another good starting point is the first 20 or so issues of Bonsai Today, if you can find them. Plenty of articles translated from Kindai Bonsai, good galleries and step-by-step instructions on topics like wiring and repotting.


I remember my first bonsai books. When I purchase my first bonsai set of bonsai tools, I think it was from Eve Bassin back in 99 or 2000, it came with both copies of 1 and 2 autographed. Best money I ever spent.

Classics of course, but out-dated information.

1 Like

Willi Benz ,Bonsai Suiseki ,& Kusamono ,A very
clean run @ the principals & basics of the art

My favorite bonsai book is Saburo Kato’s: Forest, Rock Planting, and Ezo Spruce Bonsai

My favorite book about bonsai is Michael Hagedorn’s: Post Dated