by Craig Coussins

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Pemphis Acidula large size Penjing from the Singapore Bonsai Collection.

Bonsai For Beginners

Growing Bonsai & in USA
Totally Bonsai 
See notes at bottom of this page

Bonsai for Beginners
Bonsai for Beginners has three different covers now, European, Paperback and North American
Craig Coussins
A beautifully illustrated book that is easy to follow, well-organized and inspirational. Beginning students will find this guide invaluable.
"...a thoroughly illustrated reference that will captivate and educate newcomers to the art...a wealth of personal insights accompanied by illustrations that are refreshing in their clarity and in the depth of the accompanying explanations." —Bonsai Online.

Just out and into the second edition.

Hundreds of photographs and dozens of ‘step-by-step’s’

I started Bonsai a little while back and have bought a couple of books to help me. The first one I bought was too advanced for me but the second book, Bonsai for Beginners, by Craig Coussins was just the very thing I needed. It was great. Lots of step-by-step examples and easy to understand text. I recently found out that Craig Coussins has written a new book, Bonsai School. This book is amazing. When I received it from Amazon, I had what could only be described as a ‘real book’ in my hands. I mean it was big, thick and packed with wonderful photographs of bonsai, techniques and examples of many Bonsai Teachers work. Just like a school, the book has different techniques explained in detail by teachers in different subjects. Craig Coussins, the architect of the book, has brought together exciting talented and knowledgeable instructors who share that knowledge with ‘me’. I say me because the book is like my own personal college faculty. I found Bonsai School very easy to read. That was funny initially as I first thought it was purely a technical book until I found myself reading the book. It is superbly written and really, a Bonsai book for everyone. Gardeners, bonsai growers and horticulturalists.

It starts with a history that is truly fascinating and indeed, riveting. Craig Coussins has gone into this research in a very thorough way. It shows. Peppered with great images, this section looks at the discovery of bonsai in different countries. With its origins arising from accidents as well as discoveries, the Chinese Penjing-Chinese Bonsai- are superbly illustrated and the subsequent development in Japan is then discussed by a famous Bonsai historian. The chapters seamlessly bland and makes the book easy to follow. A joy!

The book is divided into chapters covering the styles, techniques and methods of growing Bonsai and Penjing. Many teachers are represented here. Uniquely this book is not just one person’s view but a sharing of views from around the world. Indeed from afar a field as China, Italy, America, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Vietnam, England, Wales and of course Scotland, the authors home country.

What that means is that we now have far ranging step-by-step sections that are profusely illustrated with a specific subject which the individual writer wishes to share with us.

It covers all areas of ability. You may be a beginner or advanced but the author is considerate enough to show that everyone can use this book. In any event, you will always start somewhere and develop with study. That is where Bonsai School is so perfect. Clearly the author is a very experienced master of his art but the fact that he is shown pruning what can only be described as a beginners bonsai while later in the book refining a fantastic Yew Bonsai illustrates his thoughtfulness in catering for his audience. It is not about him but about the reader.

I can recommend Bonsai School to everyone and would urge you to choose this unique, well-written and profusely illustrated book for your pleasure, learning and study.

S Novikova.

Buy this book from

Bonsai for beginners is a complete introductory guide to this beautiful and fascinating art, with advice and suggestions on all aspects of bonsai, including choosing, planting, growing, shaping and maintenance, together with a directory of popular varieties around the world.

Published by Sterling in North America during 2001with a different cover showing a Taxodium and available to order through any bookstore.

Fully illustrated throughout, this is an essential guide for beginners to intermediate. Available from most major dealers.

Growing bonsai is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime, and one that is popular throughout the world. Bonsai for Beginners is a complete guide to starting this fascinating hobby, and chapters cover every aspect of your bonsai, from selecting suitable plants for your climate, through healthcare, styling, potting and troubleshooting to long-term development. A range of useful case studies take you through important techniques throughout the book, and a special chapter, The Bonsai School, looks at styling and development techniques in more detail, as well as providing species information on some of the major bonsai varieties.

Fully illustrated throughout with photographs, charts and illustrations, the range and depth of information provided makes Bonsai for Beginners an accessible and practical reference guide that will prove essential reading for beginners and experts alike.


Extracts from Bonsai for Beginners: Click pages for a larger image



What to look for when buying a bonsai

Case Study: Branch-pruning
Case Study - Advanced wiring:
Wiring a Spruce
Shaping a Pine from nursery stock - Literati
Choosing a pot
Potting and repotting a bonsai

Case Study: A basic potting
The Bonsai School
Planting elms on rock, planting pines on rock

Maple species information
Case Study - styling a Juniper from cascade to upright
Case Studies - Correcting spruce design, Correcting a maple. Case Study - Styling mature maples
Case Studies - Forest style with hackberry, Cedar groups
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Growing Bonsai and in USA,
Totally Bonsai 

was my second book and I am very grateful to Marc Bauwens of Bauwens Bonsai Nursery in Belgium for the use of some of his beautiful trees that are shown in this book:

pictures n° 3 pg 19, picture pg 23,picture n°5 pg 73 and picture pg 78 .
The Bauwens Nursery has an excellent Web site here:


When in Belgium please visit this excellent nursery where you will see some of Europe's finest trees.




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