A question I've never seen asked before

Alex DeRuiter

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As a "beginner" (beginner in the general sense: still learning about different species' intricacies; some general growing, caring, and long-term shaping knowledge [and perhaps a few seasons' experience]; attends a bonsai club and has been for a year; etc, etc, etc) with a relatively reasonable work/school schedule (say 40 work-hours and 20 school-hours per week), how many trees should one try to grow (or collect, perhaps, assuming they have good knowledge of the collecting and caring process) at a time?

I suppose a few other things should be accounted for. Let's say this beginner has adequate space -- a back yard that measures out roughtly to 20 feet by 20 feet strictly for space to grow these trees. What else would one need to know in order to give an educated guess?

Anyway, perhaps someone could work this into an equation and specify dependent and independent variables. :p

Any ideas?
 
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you must be majoring in Math... just joking!!! Not to be mean or sound rude I think your over thinking this... way to many variables, like do you plan on taking a lunch, and do you work on sunday, or holidays, etc. Buy / \ collect as many plants as you want to. Just don't spend to much money at first, so if your plants die, it won't be the end of the world... Good luck!
 

Vance Wood

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As many as you can until the number exceeds your ability or desire to work on them.
 

Smoke

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If you had your choice on the board to be know as someone.

Which would you rather be known for?

Quality or Quanity?
 
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I think there are very few people who are "serious" about creating bonsai would rather have a lot of crap plants lying around vs. some very nice plants... having said that when you are first starting off having only one nice plant I personally feel is a bad idea. How is axxonn going to learn how to design, style and even care for a tree properly, if not through practice... Do you really expect him to do some trimming, and wait till next year to do some more... he would have forgotten he even has a bonsai. This is urealistic and he will end up with a tree that ends up dying because he couldn't leave it alone.... when he has been doing as long as you have then he can worry about quality. I am not trying to be a pain in the butt and I whole heartedly agree with you smoke, just not when someone is starting off.
 

treebeard55

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Stacy's got some good points: don't over-spend to start with, because dead trees are part of the tuition when you learn bonsai; do buy enough to keep you engaged and learning.

Try to figure out as early as you can just what part of bonsai appeals to you the most. I don't see that mentioned very often.

For me, the creation part is definitely what has the most fascination. Once I realized that, I understood why, every time I bought a finished tree, I quickly lost interest in it! I now buy only raw stock.

Harry Greer, on the other hand, likes to own bonsai, admire them, maintain them; but he prefers to hire a professional to do the in-depth work, partly because he knows it's not his gift, and partly because he has the money to do so. (Don't knock him. Nothing wrong with having money if you're responsible with it, and I think Harry is.) So ask yourself what aspect of bonsai you still want to be doing when you're 89!

One other comment from personal experience -- OK, two.

First, "how many is the right number" does depend on many things: your own approach to routine, whether you like structure better than flexibility or vice-versa, other hobbies and interests, your physical energy, the money you have available. I'm half-serious when I say I doubt that Stephen Hawking could reduce it all to an equation! You'll have to explore what works for you.

Second, if you're like me you'll find out quickly that a wife needs and expects more of your time than you anticipated. :eek: Her needs and wishes are valid, tho, as yours are to her. Be ready to work out a boundary that you're both comfortable with. If she loves you she'll be reasonable. :)
 

Jessf

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It would also depend on the age of the trees and at what stage they're in, no? If you're still developing the trunk I don't think you need to spend much time each week, or each month for that matter, watching over your trees. If you're in a bonsai pot and you're at the ramifying stage I'd say you need to be more attentive and that's where space and number of trees might play a factor. Trees are dynamic, as are people, striking a balance in your routines I believe is part of the process. You can over do it in a small space, some might say you're not doing enough, doesn't matter. As long as you're getting something out of each plant you have enough.
 

Vance Wood

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Stacy's got some good points: don't over-spend to start with, because dead trees are part of the tuition when you learn bonsai; do buy enough to keep you engaged and learning.

Try to figure out as early as you can just what part of bonsai appeals to you the most. I don't see that mentioned very often.

For me, the creation part is definitely what has the most fascination. Once I realized that, I understood why, every time I bought a finished tree, I quickly lost interest in it! I now buy only raw stock.

Harry Greer, on the other hand, likes to own bonsai, admire them, maintain them; but he prefers to hire a professional to do the in-depth work, partly because he knows it's not his gift, and partly because he has the money to do so. (Don't knock him. Nothing wrong with having money if you're responsible with it, and I think Harry is.) So ask yourself what aspect of bonsai you still want to be doing when you're 89!

One other comment from personal experience -- OK, two.

First, "how many is the right number" does depend on many things: your own approach to routine, whether you like structure better than flexibility or vice-versa, other hobbies and interests, your physical energy, the money you have available. I'm half-serious when I say I doubt that Stephen Hawking could reduce it all to an equation! You'll have to explore what works for you.

Second, if you're like me you'll find out quickly that a wife needs and expects more of your time than you anticipated. :eek: Her needs and wishes are valid, tho, as yours are to her. Be ready to work out a boundary that you're both comfortable with. If she loves you she'll be reasonable. :)
Which would your wife rather have you do: Doing bonsai or---going to bars, chasing girls, sitting in front of the TV watching foot ball or drinking beer? The best thing to do is get her involved.
 

treebeard55

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Good points, Jess.

Vance, one of my bonsai friends made that point to me years ago. His wife would most definitely rather he be working on trees than sitting in Hooters!

And my wife takes the point as well. When I spoke of working out a boundary, I spoke from experience. She's made every attempt to be reasonable, and so have I. It helps that she likes bonsai, enjoys the artistry; she always comes to see the exhibit with me at the Mid-America Show. She doesn't keep her own trees, because (I'm not revealing any secrets) as she herself says, she has a brown thumb.

And for me it has been good to be forced to set a boundary, because I by nature am the kind who loves exploration more than structure. At one time, while still single, I had over 200 trees if you count everything from seedlings on up. That was too many for me to enjoy!
 
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buy some boots and a good shovel. collect as many trees as your yard will allow. don't buy finished trees until your too old to DIY. try everything: seeds, layering, grafting, etc. once you're an experienced gardener (20 yrs or so) then ask yourself the same question.
 

rockm

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"buy some boots and a good shovel. collect as many trees as your yard will allow. don't buy finished trees until your too old to DIY. try everything: seeds, layering, grafting, etc. once you're an experienced gardener (20 yrs or so) then ask yourself the same question."

Bull, pure BULL. Buying boots and a good shovel will mean you may simply fill your backyard with mostly unworkable stumps for a decade and learn nothing about how to do bonsai beyond digging.

Sure try everything INCLUDING a finished tree. I can't believe the snobbery that sometimes masquerades as "do it yourself" thinking, as if somehow "everything good" in bonsai excludes a finished tree. I'm pushing 50 and have dug (and will continue to dig) more than a few trees in my time doing bonsai.

I have done all of the above over the last 20 years or so, including buying a "finished" tree or three (finished trees are NEVER finished).... Believe me, "finished" trees have taught me VASTLY more than ANY seed, air layer or graft--all of those are great, but you will not really learn much bonsai from them for quite awhile. Same with collected stock (IF you know how and what to collect -- if you don't know what to collect you will just have a piece of junk that took you five hours to dig up). Just because it's collected doesn't necessarily make it any better than any other tree. If you collect without an appreciation of "finished" bonsai, you will come back with unworkable crappola nine times out of ten. I've seen it happen over and over again.

I have a 20' by 20' townhouse backyard. I have two dozen or so trees, from seedling size to 250 year old collected trees. I've collected some myself, bought collected material from others, used nursery material, air layers, etc. Over the years, I've sold off most all of the airlayers, seedlings, and middling collected crap to concentrate on larger more exacting material. If you stick with bonsai long enough, you will most likely be doing the same at one time or another.

In the end, I truly recommend ALL of it, including not turning your nose up at "finished" trees.
 

tanlu

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This is a good question.

While I believe it's better to have 12 quality trees, than 50 trees with little or no potential, (without reading what everyone else said) it's a good idea to have equal parts beginner material, pre-bonsai, and "finished" bonsai. That will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of bonsai cultivation.

T
 

mcpesq817

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Funny that this question came up as I was just discussing with a friend quantity/space/time issues with my collection.

I think as a beginner you tend to want to amass lots of different species. Because you might not be sure of your skills and comfortable with the price of buying better stock, you end up with a lot of small stuff that is either crap and/or will need to be grown out for 10 or more years. So, while you might end up learning general horticultural management, you will not learn how to do bonsai. Even if you are willing to grow things out, you realize how much time and skill it takes to get something worthwhile - especially as you come to understand that bonsai at that stage is less about growing something up into a bonsai and more about growing something out and cutting it back and starting all over again. I'm in the midst of getting rid of a lot of crap I bought in my early days, or secretly hoping that it dies off :rolleyes:

I think having a mix of trees in different stages probably provides the best learning environment. I can tell you that I learned more about branch placement, wiring, perspective, etc. from working with stock that was worked on by professionals (not finished per se, but a lot of the basic groundwork was done) than from anything else in my collection. Digging up stumps for free is always nice, but you still should use discretion in what you are spending your time on (I know that I still sometimes struggle with this myself :rolleyes: ). While collected material can be really great, most stumps that are dug have limited bonsai value, which is why I think you see a lot of stumps on eBay :rolleyes:

In the end, bonsai is a hobby for the vast majority of us, and so we should have enough trees in our collection that (1) we have the time to adequately care of them; (2) we have material that we can learn from and enjoy working on; and (3) we don't have so much material that it becomes a chore to take care of the collection.
 

Klytus

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And then there is the pleasure of seeing your hunting grounds totally destroyed by progressives with bulldozers and knowing the best it had to offer were secured and exist still as the sole survivors of a habitat consigned to oblivion.
 

rockm

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"And then there is the pleasure of seeing your hunting grounds totally destroyed by progressives with bulldozers and knowing the best it had to offer were secured and exist still as the sole survivors of a habitat consigned to oblivion."

While that's romantic and all, it's not that true. I have found superior material in all sorts of places, including drainage ditches near shopping mals, behind stores near dumpsters, in old homesite landscapes, refuse piles, abandoned cul desacs...Progressives with bulldozers can sometimes MAKE good hunting grounds.
 

Klytus

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They can spent a considerable time deliberating how to attract investment before demolition occurs,twenty years of ruminations in the local press about a busway.
 
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yikes !!!! Axxonn, you are going to be busy for a long time... between getting a wife, her worrying about you being at bars, or hooters, buying some boots and a shovel, and collecting as many trees as your yard will allow, becoming an experienced gardner, learn about digging, pushing 50, buying a "finished" tree or three, selling off most all of the airlayers, seedlings, and middling collected crap to concentrate on larger more exacting material, providing oneself with a comprehensive understanding of bonsai cultivation, learn general horticultural management, learn about branch placement, wiring, perspective, worrying about having your hunting grounds totally destroyed by progressives with bulldozers, finding superior material in all sorts of places, including drainage ditches near shopping malls, behind stores near dumpsters, in old homesite landscapes, refuse piles, abandoned cul desacs, worrying about how much time is spent deliberating how to attract investment before demolition occurs, and hearing about it for the next twenty years in the local press.... not to mention posting and reading replies in your favorite bonsai forum.... and with a 40 work-hours and 20 school-hours per week that you already do... when are going to find the time ????

I believe you should pretty much do it all.... Your life experiences with show in no matter what kinda art you do...
 
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