Collecting Pre-Bonsai

Which pre-bonsai would you purchase


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Smoke

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In this thread, I hope to show some pictures of some collected material, which I deem pre-bonsai. Some of the pieces have had some work done to them, and some have had nothing done to them. With the exception of one juniper, I have dug all of them. They were dug from the deserts of Mojave on trips with Harry Hirao. I am not one to dig haphazardly. If I don’t see a bonsai in the material, I don’t dig it. I think this should be the norm when collecting all material. Suffice it to say, I feel that these were pre-bonsai when I dug them, and I feel that each passing year will only serve to enhance their ability to be great bonsai.

In the recent thread, “Is it safe yet?” Vance made this quote:

“So it could be said that a Yamadori has achieved its form due to the forces of nature and time; time being the one factor man cannot impart. However the Yamadori is an accident of nature and a triumph of nature both and the same. Yamadori is an exercise in situation survival. As far as the traits needed for its survival as a bonsai it is sadly lacking in everything except an external form that pleases the eye of the person envisioning its transformation into a bonsai. In the cultivational aspects the Yamadori is sadly inferior to the prebonsai and yes, even the nursery tree. It is its outside appearance that makes it worth the effort. With the exception of pocket trees, most Yamadori take many years of work before they even qualify as prebonsai by many's interpretation of that concept.”

I might ask, “ Is this a blanket statement for all collected stock? Does this quote have more to do with your locale? Did you feel differently while you lived in California?

As far as adaptability, everything I have dug as collected material for bonsai has shown many better attributes for survival than nursery grown material. For one thing collected stock begins its bonsai life with nearly no root system period. It is pretty much grown from scratch and most everything that is deemed not useful for bonsai is removed. During this period, early in its fight for survival, the stock is seen as more “expendable” so techniques are used that might no be otherwise done on a nursery tree. I have used a shovel to square a bottom or even a chainsaw to remove large chunks of wood just to get it into a training container. My goal at this time is if it dies, I tried. If it lives, I have succeeded in getting a good start on a good root system, compact and close to the trunk. Overall a win win. We start them from this negative root stage in free draining bonsai soil, or as I do with collected material, pure sand. Fiberous root systems build very fast in pure sand and it is advocated by many in the nursery trade for building neat tidy compact root structures.

Many years of work? All bonsai take many years of work. They take many years of work till they are (in your words) finished. I do mean that in the most final sense of the word. I have never stopped working on my trees, so I have no idea what this has to do with bonsai in any context. I think I know what you mean though. I think you mean the time it take to get from nursery stock , to pre-bonsai, to finished piece that requires only maintenance. Am I close here? If this is correct than once again who cares. We work on them for our life or the plants life whichever expires first. It’s a non-sequiter. I don’t buy or collect my trees based on how quickly I can finish them. Sure I wish to have a more finished bonsai that I can exhibit with, and so buy more worked over material to start with. This is a no brainer as far as I am concerned. There are many that disagree, and that’s OK.

As far as collected material taking longer to get to pre-bonsai than nursery material. I post these pictures as at least one idea that that myth just does not hold water. None of these trees except one (which I purchased at auction, no. 0407) are over four years old. I would challenge anyone to post pictures of nursery material that can come even close to the trees here in four years. Also note that many of these trees have trunks near 6 and 7 inch calipers. ( note that a couple of these trees are only 18 months since they were dug, 0107, 0307, 0507)

I have posted a poll, I would find it very intriguing to find how a sampling of members here might choose a tree if they were at a nursery that offered collected junipers for sale. Leaving price out of the equation since I feel that skews many people from looking at higher priced material, how might the forum choose?
 

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Smoke

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I would also like to hear any comments on why the piece you selected moved you in some way. Just what was it about the piece that swayed your decision.

Thanks, Al Keppler
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I selected 0507. I like the line of trunk and the natural-looking taper. To me, the deadwood is interesting even without any foilage and reminds me of old gnarled juniper stumps found out in the desert.
 

grouper52

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I also select 0507. The movement is coherent and graceful.
 

Smoke

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Interesting, I chose 0707 since for me I can envision what I am going to do with it and I feel that it may be the most dramatic when completed. The taller almost formal upright look of the trunk coupled with the larger growing daily cloud of foliage growing at what I feel will be the top of the tree is great. The chunkiness of the bottom end will give me many opportunities for carving and helping to taper the whole thing into one unit. A rounded pine tree type canopy will enhace this stump very well indeed.

Maybe something like this....kinda....
 

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.....Some of the pieces have had some work done to them, and some have had nothing done to them.

.....I feel that these were pre-bonsai when I dug them, and I feel that each passing year will only serve to enhance their ability to be great bonsai.

....If it lives, I have succeeded in getting a good start on a good root system, compact and close to the trunk.
Hi Al,

Good poll, but these have all had work done to them, root work and pruning. You have worked the roots to fit in a container and chose a potting medium that will encourage fine feeder roots. You have also pruned off some branches, many most likely unwanted, but this has no doubt started to encourage some back budding. In short, you have turned collected material into pre-bonsai. You took raw collected material and by your own hand, created pre-bonsai.

After 18 months, these are nearing the time when they can be worked safely,and I see some nice possibilities in a few.



Will
 

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Hi Al,

Good poll, but these have all had work done to them, root work and pruning. You have worked the roots to fit in a container and chose a potting medium that will encourage fine feeder roots. You have also pruned off some branches, many most likely unwanted, but this has no doubt started to encourage some back budding. In short, you have turned collected material into pre-bonsai. You took raw collected material and by your own hand, created pre-bonsai.

After 18 months, these are nearing the time when they can be worked safely,and I see some nice possibilities in a few.



Will
Some have and some have not. The point is, the trees were basicly pre-bonsai as dug. The trees in most cases had good taper, fat tunks, and interesting movement. Even diciduous nursery material will have all the branches cut off of it after the nursery to pre-bonsai stage. That is just the way it is done. Granted out of the eight there are a couple that do not blow my skirt up either. My reason for the post was to shed some different light of Vance's dim views of collected material. It does not all have to be so bad. Some can be very good.

Three or four of the group need nothing more that growing good canopies on them, while others will need much more work to be anything even remotely good. It takes much more that some root pruning and changing the potting medium to make a nursery plant pre-bonsai. Lets face it here these have much more to do with becoming bonsai than they do with becoming yard trees!
 
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I chose the first. It seems to have many options and good branching. The deadwood looks pretty good too. I considered 0507 but it's too much "regular awesome material" for me, if you know what I mean...
 
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Some have and some have not.
Not to start a blow out, but all have had root work done and from what I can see, all have had branches pruned.

The point is, the trees were basicly pre-bonsai as dug.
I respectfully disagree. None of them were pre-bonsai, they were trees growing in the wild. Your actions, such as pruning and root work, even the angle of planting, made them pre-bonsai. Pre-bonsai are made by man from such material as you collected, or from field grown stock, or from nursery material. We make pre-bonsai...the definition of which is a tree modified to be designed as a bonsai, this modification usually means it has had root work, pruning, and sometimes even a bit of wiring.

My reason for the post was to shed some different light of Vance's dim views of collected material. It does not all have to be so bad. Some can be very good.
Calling someone's words or views, dim is insulting, unprofessional, adds nothing to the discussion, and only serves to create hard feelings and incite heated debate. I disagree with your concept that a tree growing in the wild is a pre-bonsai, I'll debate the concept, but I won't insult you over it.

It takes much more that some root pruning and changing the potting medium to make a nursery plant pre-bonsai.
Like maybe some pruning to encourage back budding?



Will
 

Smoke

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There has already been way too much debate on the subject and way too little substance. Substance meaning pictures of anything showing reasonable bonsai, whether pre-bonsai or otherwise. In both threads have tried to allow picture to do what sometimes words cannot capture. Debateing Will Heath is useless and futile and not in the spirit I wish to engage in. Debateing semantics is childish. If you wish to engage in this thread, chose a tree. If not I left option nine for those that wish to do otherwise.

My opinion of pre-bonsai is certainly different than yours. For me there are only three classifications, Nursery material, pre-bonsai and bonsai. That is my opinion. If yours is different, then say so. Do not try to change my opinion, "that" I feel is rude.

BTW, as far as Vance, I am sure he can speak for himself. I do not think his views on collected material are shared by very many in this hobby. I personaly think that his views are dim. Not without light, just dim. Maybe after enough threads and Keppler Editorial IX the path will shine bright. These threads are about choices we each have to make. These threads touch on personalities more than ever. We are not so much debateing trees as we our the choices we make. That was the whole purpose of Keppler Editorial VIII and its string of threads to follow. Choices!

Cheers, Al
 
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Vance Wood

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There has already been way too much debate on the subject and way too little substance. Substance meaning pictures of anything showing reasonable bonsai, whether pre-bonsai or otherwise. In both threads have tried to allow picture to do what sometimes words cannot capture. Debateing Will Heath is useless and futile and not in the spirit I wish to engage in. Debateing semantics is childish. If you wish to engage in this thread, chose a tree. If not I left option nine for those that wish to do otherwise.

My opinion of pre-bonsai is certainly different than yours. For me there are only three classifications, Nursery material, pre-bonsai and bonsai. That is my opinion. If yours is different, then say so. Do not try to change my opinion, "that" I feel is rude.

BTW, as far as Vance, I am sure he can speak for himself. I do not think his views on collected material are shared by very many in this hobby. I personaly think that his views are dim. Not without light, just dim. Maybe after enough threads and Keppler Editorial IX the path will shine bright. These threads are about choices we each have to make. These threads touch on personalities more than ever. We are not so much debateing trees as we our the choices we make. That was the whole purpose of Keppler Editorial VIII and its string of threads to follow. Choices!

Cheers, Al
I am not offended just disappointed that what I have said about collected material has only been surface scanned or has been misconstrued on purpose for some reason or another. Al, if you mean dim as in stupid well that speaks for itself, and speaks volumes for its author, if you mean dim as in narrow you are wrong.

I think collected material is unmatchable by anything, but getting collected material in Michigan that is anywhere near as good as what you have collected is impossible. What is available here, if you don't collect it yourself, something I find difficult to do with my physical limitations, is worse than most nursery trees I can find at a tenth of the price; not that price is a factor.

But there is something else going on here that I find troubling. It seems from the different permutations of this same discussion that there are those who seem to think if you are not willing to pay three or four hundred dollars for a piece of stock you are somehow not a serious bonsai grower. Or if you are not willing to travel four or five hundred miles for collected material you are not doing bonsai, or at least serious about it. Maybe that's true. Maybe it is nothing more than an elitist attitude and a bloated ego, I cannot say for sure.

Well you can believe what you want and have your opinions grant me the same courtesy, I have never picked you or anyone else out in any of my threads by name and personally assaulted their methods or assumed their motives. In fact when someone tried to draw me out on that issue I declined even then to name names. I have spoken in generalities and addressed issues I have found fault with or thought worthy of discussion.

But before you start making the suggestions that I know nothing of collecting you might want to read what I said earlier about my early collection which was 90% collected material. Most of them were Lodge Pole Pines and I can guarantee you that Pines do not come from the field in the same way the Junipers you have described do.

Oh---and by the way; What are my views on collected material you seem to have a handle on that one?
 

Tachigi

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Tuff choices Al. 0507, 0607 and 0107 all scream take me home and have your way with me. However pushed to the wall I'd pick 0107. I don't quite subscribe to the notion that yamadori walks through the door from the wild as prebonsai. I would classify it as prebonsai after you did what was need to put it into a pot. Sooo, if I where to get swayed to that notion, 0107 would do it for me. It has great taper with a lower trunk that oozes strength and interest. I has the correct branch placement for a multitude of design choices not to mention the carving possibilities. It appears compact, pretty much straight from the get go .......How much? :)
 

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Al, if you mean dim as in stupid well that speaks for itself, and speaks volumes for its author, if you mean dim as in narrow you are wrong.

I think collected material is unmatchable by anything, but getting collected material in Michigan that is anywhere near as good as what you have collected is impossible. What is available here, if you don't collect it yourself, something I find difficult to do with my physical limitations, is worse than most nursery trees I can find at a tenth of the price; not that price is a factor.

Vance, I hardly think your stupid. I just think you sometimes say things that make it very difficult for others to embrace with the typed word.

Compare these two sentances and I think you would see what I mean. Remember that it took my point of view of you personally to get to just how you feel. Which by the way speaks volumes, since you like that word.

Vance says: "In the cultivational aspects the Yamadori is sadly inferior to the prebonsai and yes, even the nursery tree."

Al Keppler says: "My reason for the post was to shed some different light of Vance's dim views of collected material."

Vance comes back and says: "I think collected material is unmatchable by anything, but getting collected material in Michigan that is anywhere near as good as what you have collected is impossible. What is available here, if you don't collect it yourself, something I find difficult to do with my physical limitations, is worse than most nursery trees I can find at a tenth of the price; not that price is a factor."

Now that last line form Vance about says everything. In my original first post starting this off I asked if he felt this way about all collected stock. Was this a blanket statement? Was this feeling having to do with locale? I suspected it was, and that is why I offered the outs in the first place.

My feelings when working on a forum have to do with me personally, but I always offer my opinions as my opinion and do not word them in a way that can be construed as the only way, just my way or a different way. I have always tried to back up most everything I say or do with pictures to illustrate what I am talking about and feel that they add so much to the converstaion. I have no bone to pick with Vance and his views on nursery stock, nor do I care about Will Heaths views on whether these trees I posted fit his discription as pre-bonsai according to Will.

What I have done is shown a group of trees that have had minimal work done to them and have basicly been sitting around my yard just growing from 1 to 5 years. Nothing more. I feel that this stock has the potential in becoming more than average bonsai. I feel that in the correct hands, whether thats mine or someone elses, could even become world class bonsai. I feel that collected stock has the best chance of doing this and is embraced by more of the world class artists than those advocateing making a world class tree from nursery material.

Vance, thank you for making that statement and I wish you had made it many threads ago, maybe even at bonsaiTALK during the original thread.

But there is something else going on here that I find troubling. It seems from the different permutations of this same discussion that there are those who seem to think if you are not willing to pay three or four hundred dollars for a piece of stock you are somehow not a serious bonsai grower. Or if you are not willing to travel four or five hundred miles for collected material you are not doing bonsai, or at least serious about it. Maybe that's true. Maybe it is nothing more than an elitist attitude and a bloated ego, I cannot say for sure.
I guess you may have to come back and give us your interreptation of "serious bonsai grower". If you mean Walter Pall, than I think three or four hundred dollars is a drop in the bucket. I think if walter wants a special piece of material he will trade for it or just purchase it. Walter knows what he wants and is not afraid to spend the money for it.

If you mean you and I, I think thats not fair. We all come from different economical backgrouds. I have paid three hundred dollars for material and will do it again if it is what I want. Just because someone else is able to spend hundreds of dollars for material and maybe you can't is no reason to just put a blanket statement over it. This just sounds like class envey to me and has no place in this discussion at all. If someone finds something they really want and can't afford it, get a second job and quit complaining. Don't rain on my parade because I am willing to spend 5 bills on something that you might not want or can't afford.

You continue to show yours and I will continue to show mine. If mine don't measure up to yours or vice versa who cares. We each do what we can with what we can afford. I won't judge your trees, and you don't judge mine.
Thanks, Al
 
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Smoke

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I don't quite subscribe to the notion that yamadori walks through the door from the wild as prebonsai. I would classify it as prebonsai after you did what was need to put it into a pot.
You guys need to come to California and go digging. Many of you just have no idea how this stuff comes out of the ground. Granted there are dogs like any flea circus, but if you pick and choose what you dig, there is no reason not to take from the ground one year, and get it into a bonsai pot the next year. I don't see why this is so difficult to comprehend.

Here is a photo of one of the junipers as it was dug from the desert, complete in it's pretty blue bucket and potted up with out wire or work 18 months later.
 

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I feel like I'm walking through a hail storm.... Anyway , mu humble choice is 507 , just because I like it and can see a bonsai in it.
 

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there is no reason not to take from the ground one year, and get it into a bonsai pot the next year. I don't see why this is so difficult to comprehend.
Location, Location, Location ....... I take your word for it Al. We here on the east coast don't deal with dry, arid, desert like conditions that will keep a plant compact with minimal roots. Instead we for the most part have wet boggy type conditions that allow roots to wander up to a few hundred feet. So is it really all that difficult to understand that if some of us haven't seen it, smelled it, or tasted it that it would be a little difficult to comprehend? Even so, by definition, a plant till it is ready to be manipulated is a prebonsai in waiting or possible fire wood. After the recovery period and the tree is ready to be wired, pinched or what have you. Then in my opinion it is considered prebonsai, as you actually take steps to start sculpting it and start taking a probonsai attitude..... as I said its just my opinion.

there is no reason not to take from the ground one year, and get it into a bonsai pot the next year.
Just an after thought as I reread your post before submitting mine. We ( or at least I) do collect and have trees go into a bonsai container with in twelve months in some cases. I think of it as bonsai material, however I don't consider it prebonsai till I know its time to start tweaking.
 
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bonsaimeister

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i think Al should do this with decidous trees just for the fun of it. Could you post some of you better purchases of decidous raw stock and explain why you feel they were good purchases?

bonsaimeister
 
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Debating Will Heath is useless and futile and not in the spirit I wish to engage in. Debating semantics is childish. If you wish to engage in this thread, chose a tree. If not I left option nine for those that wish to do otherwise.
I have no bone to pick with Vance and his views on nursery stock, nor do I care about Will Heaths views on whether these trees I posted fit his discription as pre-bonsai according to Will.
But yet, we are to take anything you say at face value, without debating outrageous statements such as your claim that a tree growing wild in the ground, without intervention by human hands is pre-bonsai?

Sorry Al, when you post something on a public forum, it is open for debate and discussion, this isn't a old school class room where students set quietly and listen and never dare speak unless spoken to. You of all people should realize that, after all you are quite well known for stating your opinions often, regardless of if people "care" or not. I have posted my opinions, questions, and supporting arguments here politely, intelligently, and professionally, is it too much to ask that you do the same?

Your pictures do nothing to support your claim that pre-bonsai are trees growing in the wild, yet untouched by human hands. You have not shown that my claim that pre-bonsai is material that has been worked with the end result of bonsai in mind is false. You have however talked around the issue.

You have shown some collected trees that are now pre-bonsai, thanks to your root work and pruning. Some of these are nice, some are not so nice, some may be real nice some day, some may not, but when it is all done and over, it is the talent you posses, or don't, that will decide the outcome of the trees.

I have not seen this subject of magically growing wild pre-bonsai yet in one of your countless editorials you brought up, I have covered man made pre-bonsai in a couple of my published articles, including a mention about such in the growing box article which will in this next ABS Journal. The fact remains the same, we create pre-bonsai from raw material, be it seeds, cuttings, grafts, nursery, or collected material. We then create bonsai from this. Many people start with raw material, as you did with your collected junipers. Many others start with pre-bonsai that someone else has created.

For the record, I also disagree with Vance about the quality of collectible stock here in Michigan, but that's another debate.....



Will
 

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But yet, we are to take anything you say at face value, without debating outrageous statements such as your claim that a tree growing wild in the ground, without intervention by human hands is pre-bonsai?

Sorry Al, when you post something on a public forum, it is open for debate and discussion, this isn't a old school class room where students set quietly and listen and never dare speak unless spoken to. You of all people should realize that, after all you are quite well known for stating your opinions often, regardless of if people "care" or not. I have posted my opinions, questions, and supporting arguments here politely, intelligently, and professionally, is it too much to ask that you do the same?

Your pictures do nothing to support your claim that pre-bonsai are trees growing in the wild, yet untouched by human hands. You have not shown that my claim that pre-bonsai is material that has been worked with the end result of bonsai in mind is false. You have however talked around the issue.

You have shown some collected trees that are now pre-bonsai, thanks to your root work and pruning. Some of these are nice, some are not so nice, some may be real nice some day, some may not, but when it is all done and over, it is the talent you posses, or don't, that will decide the outcome of the trees.

I have not seen this subject of magically growing wild pre-bonsai yet in one of your countless editorials you brought up, I have covered man made pre-bonsai in a couple of my published articles, including a mention about such in the growing box article which will in this next ABS Journal. The fact remains the same, we create pre-bonsai from raw material, be it seeds, cuttings, grafts, nursery, or collected material. We then create bonsai from this. Many people start with raw material, as you did with your collected junipers. Many others start with pre-bonsai that someone else has created.

For the record, I also disagree with Vance about the quality of collectible stock here in Michigan, but that's another debate.....



Will

In your opinion...
 

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