For those who have spent $1,000+ on a specimen to develop, when did you take the plunge?

Agriff

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Asking because I've been internalizing what @Walter Pall loves to say about bonsai, which is that to make great trees it's best to start with great material. I threw out the $1,000 price point as a benchmark because that's where material seems to go from "this tree has a lot of potential but it's very young" or "this tree has a lot of structural flaws but might be a great tree if you're courageous enough to clean it up" to "this is a fantastic base and it's not hard to see how you could get something beautiful out of this in a few years".

It's also a price point that's way out of my league right now, but I could consider investing into material that expensive if I was very confident that A) I would not kill it or B) develop it in a novice way.

As someone who just started into the hobby this spring, I have no idea how long it might take me to get to that point. Which brings me to the title of the thread: when did that happen for you folks? What made you say, "Ok, I'm ready to spend the big bucks"?
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I remember my first 35 euro / 40usd tree and being hesitant to start working on it.. The other three are still left untouched to the large part. The one I did have a go at, is turning out pretty cool actually.
I think I would be able to flip it for at least 100 euros in the state it's in right now, going from what's being offered and sold on public websites. Probably 200 euros in 2023.

That's a 571% increase in value.
When you improve a 1000 USD tree, it'll be worth 1500, 2000, maybe 3000. The increase in value fades quite a lot. If you ruin or kill it, it's a 14USD bag of firewood with a history.

If I'll ever have the financial liberty to throw down 1000 bucks for a tree, I think I should've at least sold one of my own for a 1000. If I can't sell one of mine for a thousand, I shouldn't be working on (or paying for!) a thousand dollar tree.
But I agree with Leatherback. There's no need to put down that kind of money to get a really good specimen. It just takes a lot of time and effort to find one for a very nice price.
 

PA_Penjing

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One time I spent $325 and I can tell you that I will never spend above $200 again. BUT someone who is "serious" about the hobby is a different breed. I know guys with thousands of dollars worth of display stands haha and viewing stones. I can't imagine buying stones and having mountains of unused bonsai pots but everyone is different. Hobby gets more than a little expensive if you make that switch.
 

sorce

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That's about around the range of Hobbyist Robbing or Professional Fooling and the latter doesn't happen.

For "specimen tree" anyway.

Good lower end collected material can be found in that range.

I reckon you can easier spend $1k worth of time waiting to find one of your own.

I wouldn't do it until you know you won't kill it. Which should be at least a few winters with similar material.

Sorce
 

Agriff

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Good lower end collected material can be found in that range.
For sure! That's what I imagine I would spend $$ on if I had it. My budget was $100 total this season, so still a ways away 😄
I reckon you can easier spend $1k worth of time waiting to find one of your own.
You're probably right! I'm definitely interested in seeing where I might be able to get my hands dirty around these parts
 

LittleDingus

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Asking because I've been internalizing what @Walter Pall loves to say about bonsai, which is that to make great trees it's best to start with great material

I think the fallacy is equating great material to money.

Sure, if you want a "great" tree tomorrow, you may need to pay great money to get there. But, if you have the time and talent...all trees start from seed. Seed is cheap (most of the time!) And is nothing but potential.

Certainly along the road from seed to bonsai there is a greater number of "bad" outcomes than good...but many of them can be "fixed" by talented artists and time...
 

SWfloirda

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Most I've spent on one tree is $75. I've seen a lot of nice material in the $200-$500 range but I like the challenge of taking $25 material and trying to make something of it. Even more than that I enjoy taking cuttings and seedlings and watching them develop, the time and effort is an investment too.
 

Agriff

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if you have the time and talent...all trees start from seed.
Sure, but if I have the skills and vision to create beautiful bonsai I'd much rather spend my time putting them to use than waiting years (decades?) for a trunk to get to the girth I need for a project I have in mind
 

Paradox

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Sure, but if I have the skills and vision to create beautiful bonsai I'd much rather spend my time putting them to use than waiting years (decades?) for a trunk to get to the girth I need for a project I have in mind

This is generally the trade off.
You put the time in growing that trunk or you pay someone else for the time they put in
 

LittleDingus

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Sure, but if I have the skills and vision to create beautiful bonsai I'd much rather spend my time putting them to use than waiting years (decades?) for a trunk to get to the girth I need for a project I have in mind

I understand :)

I have the same feelings about oil paintings. I want to be able to paint...but I can't. So I have to pay others. In a "static" medium like oil paints, the question is clearly "how much do I need to spend for what I feel is good art?"

Essentially, what you're asking is "how much do I need to spend on someone else's start at art that I can then complete?"

For me...that's a very low number. I'm not interested in finishing someone else's starter.

That doesn't mean starting with garbage material...though in my case, it does :D. But it does mean learning what is garbage material and ignoring it because there isn't time for that!

Cost is an independent issue. There is outstanding "cheep" material and crap "expensive" material.
 

PA_Penjing

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Interesting! What made you regret the decision?
No regrets actually. I just found my upper limit on the money to happiness ratio. I'm frugal and (bonsai)young, so I can grow on and improve promising material. I also get a pretty steep discount on material at a nearby bonsai nursery. Perhaps that has clouded my outlook haha. I hate that I'm always thinking in dollars when it comes to the hobby but it would just become another stressor in my life if I was dumping too much into it. I can tell you from experience the value of a tree grows very quickly if you start with good raw material. In just a few years I can usually sell a tree for double what I paid and start the process over with something better. The goal now is to hang onto a tree for myself
 

BobbyLane

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My limit is £345. but as someone said, you dont need to spend 1000 to have very good trees and many of Walters very good trees started from nursery material or were free collected trees.
 

PA_Penjing

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Oh, if I'm going to talk in dollars ($200ish) I will add that I work on the small side. 13 to 22" trees. I buy "trunks" with those finished sizes in mind. Trees larger than that climb very quickly in price. It's all so personal, it's hard to quantify
 

rockm

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Spent almost that on this oak 20+ years ago--1st pic

Second is a few years ago. It took me six months to pay it off. I knew it had a ton of potential even though I'd only been doing bonsai for about three years at the time.

Price doesn't make the tree. Potential does. I've seen people spend well over $1,000 on developed stock that is crap, or they wound up killing. Price is not the benchmark for great material. An eye for what's worth $$ and what isn't comes with time.
 

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Agriff

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Spent almost that on this oak 20+ years ago--1st pic

Second is a few years ago. It took me six months to pay it off. I knew it had a ton of potential even though I'd only been doing bonsai for about three years at the time.
I was literally just looking at your yamadori thread about this tree, and I was amazed by what you were able to do with it!

Price doesn't make the tree. Potential does. I've seen people spend well over $1,000 on developed stock that is crap, or they wound up killing. Price is not the benchmark for great material. An eye for what's worth $$ and what isn't comes with time.
Sage advice. I mainly started this thread to get a sense of how long it takes to develop that eye, because I certainly don't think I have it now. That hardwood collector you recommended in the other thread, ChoBonsai, has trees in the $300-650 range and I have no idea which one I would choose if I was told I could have one for free. Fun to think about though!
 
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