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Keshiki Bonsai: The Easy, Modern Way to Create Miniature Landscapes

Articles: Keshiki Bonsai: The Easy, Modern Way to Create Miniature Landscapes

Following my first attempt at bonsai (rest in peace little cotoneaster—I was young and eager!) I decided to read some books and educate myself. More senseless carnage followed in later years, but I can safely say that, a few of my old friends survive to this day. My style has always been more designed-landscape than what the traditional art calls for—I just can’t resist playing with moss, stones, and other natural elements to enhance a scene.

Kenji Kobayashi can’t either. No traditionalist himself, in Keshiki Bonsai, Kobayashi dishes up a chic container garden cookbook that brings bonsai into our brave new world and stretches its definition by a good bit. No grand, chiseled pines or driftwood-y junipers—this is keshiki, which means “landscape” or “view,” the author’s modern interpretation of the ancient art of bonsai. The approach is minimalist but suggestive of more: a solitary mound of moss in a pot is a green hill; a curving ribbon of coarse sand dotted with small stones is a streambed. Trees are incidental or nonexistent and quite young. The appearance of age isn’t as important in keshiki as in classical bonsai.

The book contains detailed instructions for 37 projects. The...

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