How to plan a collection

Forestcat

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I recently read a post on this forum, I believe, that outlined someone's advice on how to build a bonsai collection. It went something like this:

"Have 40 (50?) trees. Of these, 10 should be show quality or very exceptional trees ..."

and it went on from there outlining the portions that should be in development, pre-bonsai, seedlings, etc.

Thanks in advance for your help. I've tried searching the forum but haven't found exactly what I am looking for, and it's not in my browser history any more.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Bonsai is like Reese's.

Sorce
 

sorce

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Deeper truth though....

There is a best method to creating the collection YOU want.

But what kind of collection do YOU want?

Sorce
 

ShadyStump

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It seems like what you're looking for is what does a well rounded collection look like, or what does it involve? Is that correct?

In that case, I suggest you look at other sorts of collections for an idea.
Perhaps someone collects sports memorabilia. It usually starts with items that only mean something to them: a ball from a game they attended, or maybe just the ticket stubs to the game, or their personal first player card they ever collected or the like. From there they move on to items of more generally appreciated value: a players uniform, or cards of famous players in history. And finally they find display worthy items that are as much for others to enjoy as them.
Often they'll specialize in only certain sports, or players, or even just certain items like cards, or balls, but the lack of diversity often becomes monotonous for the collector and viewers, so is not considered, "well rounded."

So a well rounded bonsai collection can be assumed to follow along the same lines.
Your personal favorite trees, or personal ongoing projects will make up the bulk of your collection. There will be few refined trees of moderate value that maybe you didn't make, but purchased or received, or have made and now just maintain. These are often readily visible for guests to enjoy.
Then there will be one or a handful that you are particularly proud of, or that are quite impressive that are either front and center in your display, or kept protected and only viewed for special occasions like shows. Often rare or species, or award winners.
The numbers are entirely dependent on the size and diversity of your collection, but I would say 60%, 30%, and 10% ratio in the above order is a hobbyists goal, plus or minus five or ten percent.

If you're talking planning a collection for a show, now we're talking artistic display techniques versus organization, versus resources available.
 
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amcoffeegirl

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Usually someone starts with a tree they like and if if does well for them they buy a few more of that type. Maybe they try different varieties of that type.
Then you start propagation of the ones you have.
In between these times you find a couple more trees you like and try them too.
Once comfortable with a variety of tree then you start splurging on trees of better quality that you know you have had success with.
They add up fast.
 

PA_Penjing

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I have about 15 trees, I love being able to give everything attention. BUT you'll learn the hobby at a snails pace that way, so I volunteer/intern/apprentice at a bonsai nursery one day a week to get tons of hands on experience with all types and levels of material. There's one million ways to do things, don't get boxed in before you even start.
 

Mikecheck123

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planning a collection never works for me tbh.

In a way, having a range of trees in different pahses of development is good. But eventually you will end up with mostly trees that are more or less suitable to be shown.
Agreed. There's too much chance involved. You can't just go to home Depot and buy a show quality Trident Maple to fill that gap in your planned collection.

You have to shop, and search, and compare, and dig up whatever is the best material you can find.
 
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Hi Forestcat, I was going to reply with a link to a blog post that covers this topic but it's not in my bookmarks any more. Several links just go to the respective blogs and not the indexed page, perhaps the owners re-organized them or deleted content. Anyway, the blog page I'm looking for is from either Phutu or BonsaiTonight, at least I'm 90% sure of that. I thought it was Jonas who wrote about what an 'ideal' collection would look like for a hobbyist, in terms of what you can learn the most from. This totally changed my way of thinking about bonsai and has had a huge impact on me. This blog post from Eric covers some of the topic, so maybe it was Eric and not Jonas: https://phutu.com/show-trees-will-show-you/

Eric talks about how having show trees or trying to reach that level will help you learn, and frankly I didn't care that much about show trees until reading this. Partly because buying a show-ready tree is very expensive and not 'mine', or at least my design, and partly because it always seems very out of reach. Anyway, I've acquired some trees that can potentially reach show quality in maybe 5-7 years, which isn't too bad and then I'll feel like I have had a strong hand in their design. Also I've started taking classes and workshops with pros to get better so I know what the hell I'm doing.

If you look at Jonas's blog index, ( guides ), it has guide categories about suitable material for bonsai: nursery stock, pre-bonsai, old/collected material, neglected bonsai and mature bonsai. What I've done to increase how much I learn from my collection is to have trees from every category. What he doesn't include are seeds and cuttings, but I guess that's a separate topic. I don't have any nice mature bonsai, but they tend to be very expensive. It's hard to justify spending $5000 or more on a single tree when I could get ten really nice field-grown trees for that much money.

Obviously everything depends on your goals, but the further I get in this hobby the more I want to learn, so instead of getting new species or varieties I've started looking for trees that I can learn from.

My old collection plan went something like: "gee, I'd love to have an ume, or princess persimmon, or broom zelkova..." just because I like them. As it turns out, refining bonsai and especially deciduous to get the fine ramification expected of a show tree is pretty damn hard, and a worthy challenge.
 

Forestcat

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Thank you, everyone, for your interesting responses. I will keep these in mind as I build my collection.
 

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