cover image Masterpieces of Bonsai

Masterpieces of Bonsai

Nippon Bonsai Association, Bonsai Association Dippon. Kodansha America, $100 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87011-933-0

``It is not only the length of its lifespan that distinguishes the immobile tree from birds that fly, fish that swim, and men and beasts that walk over the earth; it is also the only living thing that creates, within itself, annual rings spelling out the history of its life.'' Bonsai, dwarf trees, contain ``a record of our ancestors' trials and tribulations'' in ``less space than a man can encompass with his arms.'' This (ironically) oversize book includes 200 full-color and black-and-white photographs of Japanese specimens ranging in age from a mere five to 1000 years, and from the cheerful winter jasmine, bedecked with yellow blooms, to wizened junipers with twisted limbs. Bonsai specialists Naka, Aragaki and Marushima detail history, cultivation and stylistic nuances. Presented in an oddly luxe fashion for such an understated art, the trees--bathed in startlingly unambiguous light--appear larger than life, but more legible for that. A Garden Book Club selection. (Sept.)