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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the $150 JBP is not something I would pay $150 for
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?
Vance, that's beautiful. Do you have any photos without leaves?