Is it only me or do others have an issue with statements such as this one. Perhaps garden nurseries are better in America than the ones in Australia. There would be no such thing as good stock in an Australian nursery – cheap stock maybe, young seedling or beginner stock perhaps, but definitely nothing that could put a candle to a specialist bonsai nursery stock that has had many years of selective pruning and development so that the artist can actually produce something that with another five years or so could be actually called a bonsai.Vance said,
However once the hobbyist gains some knowledge the standard nursery will be the best place to get good stock at a price that does not rival a new car.
Yes to a degree, the statement "However once the hobbyist gains some knowledge the standard nursery will be the best place to get good stock at a price that does not rival a new car" I believe for one thing, this perpetuates the economic idea of mallsai type of material. Why develop good quality material if after you get someone started they may never return? Bonsai sundries will only carry the purveyor of bonsai supplies so far. The second being that quality trees produced from nursery stock are far and few between. Perhaps that because people are still waiting on them to develop to make a credible tree. Jon, having been to Australia in the navy and to visit my brother in Perth. I can say that there is no difference between nurseries here and there. Nor would I expect there to be. Business and economics of plants here or there is the same the world over.Is it only me or do others have an issue with statements such as this one. Perhaps garden nurseries are better in America than the ones in Australia.
Dwight, I appreciate your statement. Being one that gave up a good six figure income, and tested my wife's patience to pursue the commercial end of bonsai. I really can't agree that I am a hobbyist or have the heart of one. I can't walk away from it or depend on a friend to water my trees. I believe anyone that has mortgaged the bank, knowing that they most likely will not become the next Brussels, and that their income will be for the most part static in relation to the trees produced has a little more heart than a hobbyist, and probably a good deal less sanity as well.I've spent much more time on koi than on bonsai and I'm pretty sure that in many respects the " pros " there are in many ways still hobbyists. I also suspect the same is true for bonsai. I'd love to see someone who is making real money with bonsai who doesn't have the hearty of a hobbyist.
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest disservices "old-school" bonsai has done to bonsai in the United States. This has filtered down from greats like John Naka and Ben Oki and has produced a generation of hobbyists who will not consider buying prebonsai. Many local club members think that the demonstration is the thing, and that it's not bonsai unless it's nursery stock that you are afraid to cut on.For someone new to the art and considering themselves as a hobbyist only, a bonsai related store is as good a place as any to start out at as long as the hobbyist understands that a bonsai related store will have prices somewhat to significantly higher than a standard nursery. The advantage is being associated with someone who has enough passion for bonsai to risk the capitol investment to start this kind of business. As the owner there is a high probability he/she may know something about bonsai and be able to assist the beginner/hobbyist with questions and offer advise. However once the hobbyist gains some knowledge the standard nursery will be the best place to get good stock at a price that does not rival a new car.
I would absolutely agree with you that mallsai is the wrong way to go, and if you have two nurseries that sell that crap near you, that's a shame. And of course, having a nusery within driving distance is a big deal, since buying trees sight unseen can be a disaster. But with digital photography, one can often get a very good idea of what's available. But "near impossible" to find outdoor trees in a bonsai nursery?Perhaps I painted with too broad of a brush. However of the two bonsai nurseries close to my location the only material sold is of mallsai quality, and most of that indoor material. I prefer outdoor trees and trying to find good outdoor material is very difficult. Finding this kind of thing in a bonsai nursery is near impossible----so far.
"Through the nose" of course must be defined by each individual's budget. Trying to do this art on the cheap produces cheap bonsai. Of course you can do better at your local nursery than you can at the two mallsai places. I have resolved not to buy trees unless they are quality, though. Perhaps an example: the tree below was had for $150 from Vons Gardens, along with a couple of other trees. You can't see much here because I had not cleaned it up yet. It's not great material but will make a nice upright tree.If per-chance you do find what I have described it is a fair bet you are going to be paying through the nose for it. That's my major complaint with "Bonsai Nurseries", not that I fault them for wanting to make a profit, but the fact I know I can do better elsewhere skews my decision to purchase this kind of material. Maybe your landscape nurseries are not very good, and your bonsai nurseries are exceptional; then you make the choices that are good for you and fit your needs.
Again you have to define high end material. A trip to Brussel's will certainly turn up some nice trees, possibly a bit pricey, and I have never been to other professional nurseries other than Johnny Uchida's Grove Way nursery in Hayward, CA. I find many things that seem to me to be overpriced, as well as some bargains to be had here and there. I found too many trees that were priced correctly or bargains to decide among them, at Vons Gardens!Making the observation that bonsai nurseries do not carry high end material because they cannot sell it is another broad brush exercise in illustration. The problem is not so much good material but the cost to alternate choices ratio that kills this end of the business. In the US, and that means places outside of California which I would exempt from this debate, bonsai nurseries will continue to founder until they put forth the effort to find good stock themselves and not rely on the same old distributors of the same ol' crap sold to the same stores across a given market.
Yeah, and it helps to be capitalized properly, and to not try to run a bonsai nursery out of a suburban yard, and it helps to have business sense in many other areas that pertain to any business.....but it helps to have some local support, too. Clubs must support local vendors. There is no other way around it.A bonsai business must, in my mind, take the time to develop stock as they would develop a market. Consistently good stock, accessories and assistance will cause a business to grow, sitting back with a nose in a book or watching TV will guarantee that your business will pretty much stay where it is at becoming significant only after it becomes a former bonsai business.
I'm not going to comment on whether this is a good value or not. I will use it as a lead to an example.the $150 JBP is not something I would pay $150 for
Take the last question first: I cannot judge what I have not seen. The very name Growing Grounds sounds like these people would have something I might be interested in.I'm not going to comment on whether this is a good value or not. I will use it as a lead to an example.
Vance, Lets set up a hypothetical scenario. You run across a Jap. Maple of interest to you. It has been field grown from a chopped trunk for about 8 years, keeping in mind the acquisition of stock, time and material. The purveyor has religiously root pruned and did what is necessary to the trunk to provide interesting stock. What hypothetically would this piece be worth? I realize in this example you can't see it feel it or touch it, but with some imagination I'm sure could visualize a close approximation. I ask not to be smart, but have a genuine interest on your opinion of this subject.
One last question Vance. I know you said the suppliers around you have indoor tree that didn't present interest for you. Have you ever visited the Growing Grounds in SC, or NE Bonsai in Mass.? If you have whats your take on there material?
No I don't. If there is one problem with this tree is that it does not want to ramify well. Of course it might help if I defoliated it, something I have not done for the last two years because it interfered with our clubs show schedule. This time for sure, to quote Bullwinkle J. Moose. It does have wonderful color both spring and fall, this picture is a spring display. It is a lot like Koto Hime but I think it is just plain ol' Mountain Maple.Vance, that's beautiful. Do you have any photos without leaves?