The ancient art of bonsai - How to find or buy good bonsai specimens - Potting and root pruning - Seasonal care - Tips for bonsai exhibitors
Jon Ardle is the features editor for the RHS magazine, The Garden. He is also a freelance journalist and specialist in Bonsai.
A specialized gardening technique, Bonsai has been around for centuries, originating in Japan where the term literally means "plant in a container". This slightly simplistic term in reality covers a skill more complex in its manner than a simple containerised plant. Works of living art, they embody nature in a way not found in other areas of art or gardening. Reliant entirely on the grower and shaped by him to his satisfaction, it is a case of man controlling nature - a powerful position to be in. Either entranced by these tiny giants or repulsed by their capture and unnatural growing form, bonsai always invokes an opinion and here Jon Ardle, a long-time bonsai grower, shares his thoughts and growing techniques with the interested reader. From choosing a specimen to training and growing it, caring for it and repotting, pruning and watering, he knowledgeably imparts his wisdom. The complex rules and regulations of the various forms of bonsai are clearly explained and shortcuts such as using unwanted garden shrubs demonstrated. Lavishly illustrated with colour photographs and pen and ink drawings for techniques, it is an indispensable guide to all bonsai growers and potential devotees. This is part of the RHS Wisley handbook series, a comprehensive and concise look at Bonsai, fully illustrated and clearly written. Aimed at both the amateur and professional grower, this is an invaluable addition to any serious horticulturalist's bookshelf. - Lucy Watson