A book review by David W. Fukumoto, Fuku-Bonsai (Hawaii)
Meislik Ficus book cover.jpg (18193 bytes)     FICUS; The Exotic Specie is a hardcover  144-page book , 8"x10" with extensive color photography and well written text.  Jerry Meislik 2004; published by Devonshire Gardens Ltd (161 Ridge Run Drive, Whitefish, Montana 59937 USA;  Email:   or visit Jerry's website at

                Before I can review this book,  I must declare a major conflict of interest!  I've known Jerry since about 1986 when his Ann Arbor Bonsai Society hosted the American Bonsai Society Symposium and invited me to be the headliner.  I've been to his Michigan home, enjoyed his collection,  and correspond with him.  Jerry is a Fuku-Bonsai stockholder and has written articles that are posted on this website.  I like the guy and respect him for his enthusiasm and commitment to bonsai.

                Jerry is a "bonsai fanatic!" He lives and breaths the stuff.  He gets all excited when he's talking about bonsai and you can almost see the wheels spinning as he latches on to a piece of information and sorts it in the card file in his mind.  Now that he's retired,  his paradise is Whitefish, Montana where he gets to look out his window to see great ski country half of the year and beautiful hiking and outdoor activity the rest of the year. And in between these great pleasures, he does bonsai.


                Many know that I love ficus too, and that I originally thought that Fuku-Bonsai would specialize in it.  It makes sense. Ficus is a family of tropical trees and we can grow it faster and better than anyone else.  It is the only proven houseplant that is a true tree and from this family of plants, we expected to identify the future "indoor bonsai king!" The Harold Lyon Arboretum of the University of Hawaii at Manoa contains one of the largest collections of ficus trees in the world.  I am a research affiliate of Lyon Arboretum and have published three papers in the Amercian Bonsai Society Journal in a project titled:  "FICUS, An Inspiration for Indoors!"  I corresponded with Ira J. Condit, the author of Ficus, the Exotic Specie which is the most authoritive resource on ficus.  At one time, the Fuku-Bonsai / Lyon Arboretum Ficus Research Collection had over 100 different species, varieties, hybrids, or clones! But even though the Fuku-Bonsai collection contains some impressive ficus bonsai, we drifted away because ficus needs more light than is usually available indoors. 

                With this background, you can understand how ridiculous it seemed that a guy living in the northern part of the US would specialize in ficus!  Then I saw photographs and I was totally impressed and convinced! This guy is for real!  He's got a lot of common sense and isn't willing to accept mediocre results. My first rule for bonsai success is: "Choose plants that will grow well for you in your environment, or change your environment to meet the needs of your plants." And that's what Jerry did.  He hung up a bunch of high intensity metal halide lights on his ceiling and gets better growth than Hawaii!

                He's meticulous and his great trees live indoors all year around. They're great because Jerry also believes in my second rule for bonsai success:   "Start with plants that already have character to avoid the long skillful training needed to create character."  That especially makes sense as space is a premium luxury!   Naturally, Jerry observed the third rule: "For optimum growth, create optimum growing conditions!"

                Jerry is a clear-thinking logical kind of guy . . . a thinking man's bonsai guy!  He's logical and meticulous and that's reflected in his book.  He's gathered all the bits and pieces ever written about ficus bonsai and compiled them in a logical manner.   He's collected techniques that are little known and has searched out the innovative growers where ficus grows vigorously naturally. Then he digested it and came out with valid comments and recommendations.

                His book is logical and effectively organized . . . introduction of a unique family of trees   . . . growing them indoors  . . . bonsai aesthetics  . . . techniques   . . . monographs on selected ficus species . . . and more!  It adds up to the finest book on ficus bonsai!  I highly recommend it!

               ~~~David W. Fukumoto, Fuku-Bonsai, Kurtistown, Hawaii  (May 2004)


     To order a copy of FICUS; THE EXOTIC BONSAI directly from the author or to visit the
      website of Jerry Meislik,  go to:  
      Other articles by Jerry Meislik that are on this website:
***    Go to BONSAI .  .  .  My Way by Jerry Meislik
***    Go to Jerry Meislik's Water Jasmines
***   The Training of "MAHALO!" by Jerry Meislik
***   Future "MAHALO" designs

***   Return to FBnews Issue #8 (Summer 2004)

  Fuku-Bonsai Inc. 2004     
        PO Box 6000 (Olaa Road), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
        Phone (808) 982-9880,  FAX (808) 982-9883
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