How did you get started?...

the3rdon

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Here is a question for ya.. Where did you see your first bonsai and how long have you been addicted?

My dad bought a little curvy Ficus in a plastic pot sometime in the 80's and I thought it was way cooler than the rest of his plants.. Years went by and I still had that mental picture in my head of that dragon shaped little ficus.. Somewhere my dad stumbled upon more expensive and craggy old 25" trees in pots and I had to have one.. I've been into it a little more and more over the last 3 years, and I am now fully addicted.. I keep my stock at home and my better trees that I consider nice enough to show on my girlfriends deck where we have get togethers..

Now your turn.. I am really interested in this..

Thank's
~Don Hanson
 

RyanFrye

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LOL I snuck into my friend's Neighbor's back yard with my friend at the time when I was about 14 or 15. My friend was intrigued by the little trees that were sheltered under a pavilion there and had to show them to me. I went past just intrigued and was instantly fascinated and obsessed. I went to the library shortly after and took out my first book on bonsai and gobbled it up. Some 12 years later I'm still going strong with my addiction :D
 

HotAction

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In the summer of '08, some freinds had gotten books from the library. They showed them to me, and that was the first time I realized bonsai was not a species of plant. Since then, it has been all bonsai for me!

Dave
 

Tink32

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the first bonsai I remember seeing was in "the karate kid"... lol, but when I was in high school, I spent half the day at a vocational school for landscape design and my teacher had 3 ficus bonsai in the greenhouse. I was fascinated by them, but never pursued the hobby. then about 5 years ago I had 2 pine trees that started growing in a pot of english ivy I have, they lived in that pot for 3 years before I finally potted them up in there own pots. 1 died but the other one grew from about a foot and a half to well over 4 feet, so last year I decided it was time to get into the hobby. its been a little over a year now, and I eat, sleep and drink bonsai!!!!
 

Brian Underwood

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Wax on, wax off... KARATE KID!!! That was the very first time I ever saw a bonsai, but didn't get addicted until I found an old copy of Sunset Bonsai Trees and Care on my father's bookshelf. I completely fell in love with the little maple forest winter scene that was in it. The idea of having a living miniature forest that you could imagine yourself walking through, and the ability to lose yourself in that scene, was incredible to me. Since then it has been a fun journey to having the ability to recreate that forest and not kill it, and believe me, I have killed my fair share of trees along the way. I'm still learning, and always will be, but having a teacher really helps.
 

Yamadori

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It was a visit to the Huntington Gardens that sealed the deal. The Golden State Bonsai Collection South is displayed there. I was fascinated. All I had seen before that trip were mallsai at garden centers and mall stalls. I fell in love with both the bonsai and Japanese garden at the Huntington. There has been no turning back. That was 4 years ago.
 

milehigh_7

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I have had a deep interest in all things Japanese for most of my life. The two I have enjoyed the most are the martial arts and bonsai. I remember seeing pictures of the little trees and finding it so amazing how little soil they grew in. I guess the first time I tried was in high school, must have been about 1986 or so. My dad has RMJs on his property like weeds so I thought I would just pot one up and try it. It promptly died and I did not try again for about 10 years.

It was about that time that I discovered IBC also there was a nursery with a small selection of bonsai and supplies. Many of the big names frequented IBC and were quick to give advice and answer questions. I remember chatting with Herb Gustafson, Colin Lewis, Pedro Morales, Jerry Meislik and others. It was very nice. However, the combination of Phoenix AZ and apartment living were prohibitive to my efforts.

Here I am 25 years later still trying to do this thing. I may not have talent but I do have tenacity. Most of all I love trees. :D
 

the3rdon

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Great stories guys.. Keep it going.. I don't see some of the names on this thread that I see on a lot of the other threads.. C'mon, I wanna hear your stories too.. :D
 

Bill S

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Followed the mallsai instructions to a tee. Then decided to learn why I killed it.

I have to admit that I got it for Christmas after telling my mom about seeing trees like the ones in, you guessed it, yes K.K., at the mall.
 

mcpesq817

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For me, I moved from a condo to a house a few years ago and was trying to figure out what to do with the landscaping. I had bought one specialty japanese maple from my local nursery, and thought about adding others so I looked online to see what other cultivars could work. I ended up stumbling on pictures of JMs that were bonsai, and I was hooked ever since.
 

rockm

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My wife brought home a bonsai juniper from a Potomac Bonsai Association sale back in the late 80's--I think. I killed it in two weeks. I was fascinated nevertheless.

I didn't take bonsai up seriously until four years or so after that, after a few trips to the National Arboretum collection.
 

Dav4

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I have always loved plants...I had a collection of 20 cacti when I was 13-14:cool:. Went to college and majored in Botany. I actually interned at the Arnold Arboretum the summer after my junior year, and one of my reponsibilities was watering the Lars Anderson bonsai collection housed there:eek:. Still, I didn't really get bit by the bug until a girlfriend bought me a mallsai for Xmas, and I visited the bonsai nursery where the tree was purchased. For those of you outside of the Northeast, Bonsai West and New England Bonsai Gardens, both in MA, are probably 2 of the better bonsai nurseries in the country. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dave
 

Jrbrown4

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My wife worked at a zoo and one of the horticulture guys brought in a miniature maple tree. She told me about it and she was fascinated that he could make a tree look so realistic but so small. Well this made me real excited and she introduced us and I began going to every presentation he put on and as he taught me I pushed him to keep teaching others. That was my freshman year of college and I dabbled for the next 4-5 years being in apartments and killing a lot of things because of poor lighting and lack of funds to invest in what my plants really needed. I never lost the desire though and now I have been in my house for a around 3 years I am getting a more serious collection and having a great time. I am sure my wife regrets introducing me to Ed at times but she sees how happy I am being outside and working on trees and she lets it go. She is awesome :D

Also I am happy to say my first teacher now owns his own pre-bonsai shop in my home town and is doing awesome.
 

the3rdon

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Great story Jbrown4.. My better trees are at my girfriends house (since she has a nice deck for get togethers) and it's funny that u say how she sees that ur happy.. I often see my girlfriend loolking through the glass doors smiling for that same reason.. If she ONLY knew that I'm OBSESSED.. LOL!!
 

donkey

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My bonsai habit started quite by accident about 4 years ago. I have for many years dug up tree's that are in places where they have a low survival rate footpaths, building sites, cracks in walls etc.. then look after them for a year or two then put out in the wild in places that i thought could do with some more tree's. Then as i say about 4 years ago i seen a bonsai seed kit in a charity shop and initially i just wanted the seeds. but after seeing some of the pictures in the pamphlet that came with, i thought i might as well give it a go. so i hunted round to see if any of my trees in plant pots had any interesting features and found an oak with a fat almost horizontal trunk and 4 branches so i removed one branch and following the poor instructions planted it in a shallow pot (i made that myself by drilling drainage holes in a wooden bowl) and decided that if i could keep it alive long enough to train another tree into a pleasing enough shape then i would take up bonsai. ( I have 5 bonsai in pots now and my first tree i tried training is still in training.) A few day's later a friend seen me playing with my tree's and gave me my first bonsai book (she had tried bonsai and failed.). I practised wiring and other techniques on trees i had no intention of keeping (i wired some into some pretty wierd shapes just to see how far it can be taken) then re-wilded many of my practice tree's (theres some damn weird tree's in the wild all over central scotland ) My seed's failed. and every tree i have is still collected from somewhere they wouldn't survive. and to date it is the only hobby i've stuck at and now i've been banned from bringing any more tree's into my girlfriend's garden. Though i did bring one in today shh.
 

treebeard55

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Blame my sister.

I don't remember when I first saw a bonsai, but by the time I was in my 30's I was a total and irredeemable plant lover. Then my younger younger sister (no, that's not a typo) gave me a "bonsai kit" for Christmas in '88. The seeds in it died, but the interest was sparked. A year later I bought my first tree, and awa-a-a-ay I went!

A dozen years later I married (for the first time) and in the ensuing months found out just how much was involved in learning to be a husband, father, and stepdad to five lovely young ladies with baggage from their mom's first husband. Bonsai (and much else) went on the back burner, and most of my best trees died from unintended neglect.

About five years ago I started getting back into active bonsai, a bit at a time, and began rebuilding my collection at the same time. I'm now at about the limit of what I can handle in the discretionary time in my schedule -- about 40 trees in various developmental stages.
 

Stimmie1

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I blew out my knee playing college football in 78. The day of surgery, I was doing pull ups on my traction bar, Dad walk in and saw what I was doing, and walked out without saying a word. He returned with a Sunset Bonsai book and said, Boy, you need patients, you learn this art and it will teach you patients. I probably read that book a dozen times and decided to give it a try. Nothing lived and I was bummed. Coming home for Christmas Break, Oakland Nurseries in Columbus Ohio had a few bonsai and was able to talk to the owner about my experience. Since that time, I have purchased about 50 books, took workshops, joined the Atlanta Club and began having sucess. Met and studied under Colin Lewis to improve my skills, and have been feeding my addictions since the mid 90s. Now I am teaching myself how to deal with flood damaged trees and how dangerous flood silt is in a trees pot. Can't wait for retirement in about 15 years to enjoy the art even more than I do now.
 

irene_b

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I was 12 or so and been addicted ever since....:D
 

M.B.

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I started into bonsai through koi. I have a friend in my local koi club that started doing bonsai about 6 or 7 years ago. Everytime I went to see her fish, I was facinated by her bonsai trees. I had been an avid gardener for years and couldn't quite figure out how she got the trees to live in so little soil. Finally, about 4 years ago I jumped into the hobby and became totally addicted.
Mary B.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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I got bored with houseplants and thought there must be something I could do that required more attention and thought I could give bonsai a try. That was 1994, and I've been going ever since. Iowa isn't exactly a bonsai haven, so a good friend and I studied on the weekends, went collecting and got involved in the club. My wife and I got transferred to Nashville, then Birmingham, and while the bonsai scene isn't much better, the climate sure is! I don't have a "teacher", but I read everything I can get my hands on, attend workshops, and participate in the AL club. With a young family and busy career, I doubt I'll ever get to study for a stretch in Japan, but I would in a second. For now, I'm growing stock for the future so when I retire I'll have a little cottage business...or at least a lot of cool stuff to work on!!!

Yes, it is an obsession.
 
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