I think I maybe an addict

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
I must find a bonsai anonymous before my wife divorces me! I cannot help myself, I see a plant/tree being dug up or tossed in the trash I must rescue it!

Today I drove up a street and saw some large plants on the curb, didnt think much of it. Drove by about 30min later and the trash man was at that house loading up the plants up and take to the dump. So I stopped real quick ran over and told them I would take them! He laughed at me why I would want such dead looking plants. One is a variegated juniper, tall was about 8'. One is some type of pine also about 8' tall. So I quickly took them home and figured I would toss them in the back and my wife wouldn't be the wiser... Wrong....

She was there before me & saw what I had and flipped out hahaha. She told me the other day "no more plants"!! I agreed but inside I ignored it.

I think it still maybe worth getting yelled at and probably sleeping on the couch for the rest of the week haha :)

I will get pictures up tomorrow I don't dare go out there and play with them now.
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
Messages
4,581
Reaction score
5,306
Location
Chandler, AZ
USDA Zone
Hot
I am sure others will tell you this but now is the time to build your collection wisely. What I mean is to start getting only stock that has promise and can be a quality bonsai in your lifetime. I have a yard full of strays that followed me home and it has gotten me no closer to being good at bonsai than I was years ago.

Buy years, get quality. This will reduce the quantity as well as natural function. Or at least the wife might begin to see the artistic side when you have finished trees in pots.

Good luck and get out of my shoes, they will take you the wrong direction.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,357
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
You will learn (or your wife will teach you :D) that grabbing every piece of stray plant material you can to make bonsai out of is not a real good idea. You wind up saddled with worthless, unworkable plants that you can't get rid of, kind of like collecting every stray dog that comes along. Some are better left to the shelter. Choose a few CAREFULLY. Work on them.

Wasting time on marginal material robs time from work on stuff that's really worth effort.
 

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
I generally only get the ones I deem worthy enough to keep. Usually they have more character than plain old nursery stock just take a bit more care & time to get to the end. I would love to collect a tree or 2 from the mountains or grab up a California juniper but trying to find out what is needed to collect trees out here is a pain. I have been calling, emailing etc to find out if a permit is available to collect trees to get a few very nice ones with no avail. So my collecting usually involves digging out of peoples yards or finding the plants that are unsaleabe at mom & pop nurserys. I would join a bonsai club around here to maybe get in some collecting groups but the times of the clubs are impossible for me to make..

Anyways thanks all for the insight, I do just need to stop trying to save them all from the compost heap.
 

jferrier

Mame
Messages
193
Reaction score
26
Location
Washougal, WA
USDA Zone
7
Funny... my wife has told me no more trees too! I too agreed, and then bought another. Well I see it a little differently I guess, maybe because I'm relatively young and only have about 6 years of bonsai experience, but I'd say that any free tree that is a good bonsai species is worth getting if you can. You can experiment and try things you'd never dare try to do to something you paid an arm and leg for. The basic bonsai techniques like needle shortening, repotting, etc are the same on junk trees as on quality bonsai stock. And you still learn how to properly care for the particular species too. So what if it never makes it to a Bonsai show. You will be better equiped to work with a nice tree when you do get one. I decided in the beginning after killing a few trees that I'd rather spend $50 for a dozen small pines to practice on than $200 on one nice one. Then after I gained confidence that I could keep those alive I spent the money for some decent stock. Yes, I do have dozens and dozens of maples, pines, bald cypresses that are just seedlings, but now I have extra grafting material and something to do for the other 95% of the year when I'm not working on my 3 or 4 bonsais in progress.
 
Last edited:

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,888
Reaction score
20,311
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
You will learn (or your wife will teach you :D) that grabbing every piece of stray plant material you can to make bonsai out of is not a real good idea. Choose a few CAREFULLY. Work on them.
.
...and buy her more jewelry to confuse AND appease her:D
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,888
Reaction score
20,311
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
You need to start focusing on smaller stock that you can sneak into your backyard and hide among the rest of your collection. Innevitably, when she finally notices the new tree, you say,"Oh, that tree...I've had that one forever.".












...Then, you buy her some jewelry:):D
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,357
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
"Well I see it a little differently I guess, maybe because I'm relatively young and only have about 6 years of bonsai experience, but I'd say that any free tree that is a good bonsai species is worth getting if you can.

Well, yes, and no. "Free" stock isn't really all that free, especially after you work on it for six years, then realize it wasn't (and never really would be) worth your effort.

The trick is to walk a line - yes, inexpensive and readily available stock that is of lesser quality is great for learning and experimenting - up to a point. That point is usually when you find yourself simply watering and fertilizing dozens of seedlings, stock trees, landscape rescues, air layers and cuttings and not actually "doing bonsai." If you're just watering and fertlizing, you're just gardening.

The Catch 22 is just doing basic maintenance and care (and minimal bonsai work) for your dozens of "free" trees prevent you from advancing much in experience. You won't learn, for instance, how to care for, much less handle design ideas, on collected stock from nursery trees or seedlings. You will learn by using more advanced stock (possibly already collected by, and purchased from, someone else).

Six years into my practice of the hobby was about the time I smacked my head and realized I was wasting time with about 80 percent of the trees I had. I sold most of them off and bought a dozen or so really good pieces of bonsai stock, collected and otherwise.
 

ghues

Omono
Messages
1,325
Reaction score
2,165
Location
Campbell River BC Canada
USDA Zone
7b
Welcome to the addiction....

.....Welcome to the "Nuthouse" :p and to the world of Bonsai however you want to define it…..you'll notice there's lots of opinions out there (and that’s a good thing most of the time) but I think for most of us, it’s about finding the balance.
That includes all aspects of your life, especially the balance in your relationship with your significant other which usually comes as a compromise from both sides.
The common ground is that we love growing plants and the satisfaction of seeing the benefits of your labour, letting it teach you as much as learning along the way…. with the losses and successes.
I dabble at all the phases, growing from seed, cuttings, garden transplants, both urban and native yamadori…basically anything………and I still get “no more plants” every once in a while, lol.
There will be many trials and tribulations for you ahead but we’ll help you anyway we can and lastly.
One thing I can tell you from my few years of experience on this forum…..is that you’ll learn a lot from it which will significantly help your growth in this addictive hobby/ craft/ life….for I know I’ve gained a ton of knowledge which has helped me significantly and I’ve made many friends along the way.
Cheers Gman.
 

cquinn

Shohin
Messages
336
Reaction score
0
Funny... my wife has told me no more trees too! I too agreed, and then bought another. Well I see it a little differently I guess, maybe because I'm relatively young and only have about 6 years of bonsai experience, but I'd say that any free tree that is a good bonsai species is worth getting if you can. You can experiment and try things you'd never dare try to do to something you paid an arm and leg for. The basic bonsai techniques like needle shortening, repotting, etc are the same on junk trees as on quality bonsai stock. And you still learn how to properly care for the particular species too. So what if it never makes it to a Bonsai show. You will be better equiped to work with a nice tree when you do get one. I decided in the beginning after killing a few trees that I'd rather spend $50 for a dozen small pines to practice on than $200 on one nice one. Then after I gained confidence that I could keep those alive I spent the money for some decent stock. Yes, I do have dozens and dozens of maples, pines, bald cypresses that are just seedlings, but now I have extra grafting material and something to do for the other 95% of the year when I'm not working on my 3 or 4 bonsais in progress.
Wait until your tastes get even more refined. When they do your eye will only see 4 figure material as optimum. The only trees I purchase now in the $200.00 range are usually from clubmembers that are getting older, and the tree as been trained as bonsai for 40 yrs. In other words a bargain. I also only by books written by Japanese or Japanese trained artists. When you view these books everyday, what you consider worthy of working on will change dramatically.
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
Messages
11,672
Reaction score
31,251
Location
B’ham, AL
USDA Zone
8A
Wait until your tastes get even more refined. When they do your eye will only see 4 figure material as optimum. The only trees I purchase now in the $200.00 range are usually from clubmembers that are getting older, and the tree as been trained as bonsai for 40 yrs. In other words a bargain. I also only by books written by Japanese or Japanese trained artists. When you view these books everyday, what you consider worthy of working on will change dramatically.
What...not ready to play in the 5 figure sandbox?:D

Looks like inflation hits everywhere...last time we talked about this tree being high it was $14k less!
 
Last edited:

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
Figured I would post with the juniper & pine I fought the trash man for, since I said I would. It's not the whole tree just mainly interested in the trunk & the rest will have to be worked with a lot. The white stuff that is coming off the juniper is odd, I slip potted it earlier and watered it looked like soap bubbles now all the white stuff on the soil. As for the pine I have no idea what it is, it's weeping in habit maybe I will just have that as a nice little garden tree. Sorry for the poor pictures the sun was playing games with shadows earlier so took them at dusk, I will have to position them better for full shots.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Messages
700
Reaction score
77
Location
cincinnati, USA
Bonsai Annonymous

I know what you mean, its easy to go overboard with an activity that you really love. If I could have a trillion trees I would.. and when I see a plant growing wild I consider it potentially mine if I decide I have the space for it. Problem is I dont have a lot of space and I dont want to appear to have gone overboard so when a new one comes in a previous one must leave. This way I have a finite collection and I'm learning self discipline. Things your wife might appreciate.

I do have the impulsive and sudden urge to dig up just about everything I see. It is an addiction. Once you start you just need to do it more, then thats not enough, keep upping the dose...
Maybe this forum needs a bonsai addiction recovery section.
 

jferrier

Mame
Messages
193
Reaction score
26
Location
Washougal, WA
USDA Zone
7
"Well I see it a little differently I guess, maybe because I'm relatively young and only have about 6 years of bonsai experience, but I'd say that any free tree that is a good bonsai species is worth getting if you can.

Well, yes, and no. "Free" stock isn't really all that free, especially after you work on it for six years, then realize it wasn't (and never really would be) worth your effort.

The trick is to walk a line - yes, inexpensive and readily available stock that is of lesser quality is great for learning and experimenting - up to a point. That point is usually when you find yourself simply watering and fertilizing dozens of seedlings, stock trees, landscape rescues, air layers and cuttings and not actually "doing bonsai." If you're just watering and fertlizing, you're just gardening.

The Catch 22 is just doing basic maintenance and care (and minimal bonsai work) for your dozens of "free" trees prevent you from advancing much in experience. You won't learn, for instance, how to care for, much less handle design ideas, on collected stock from nursery trees or seedlings. You will learn by using more advanced stock (possibly already collected by, and purchased from, someone else).

Six years into my practice of the hobby was about the time I smacked my head and realized I was wasting time with about 80 percent of the trees I had. I sold most of them off and bought a dozen or so really good pieces of bonsai stock, collected and otherwise.
I hear what your saying about its not really free. Ok so you have the cost of soil, water, fertilizer etc. for many seedlings. Still much less of a cost than 1 nice piece of material. I still contend that its worth my effort and other beginners effort, because I'm not trying to win a bonsai competition. I'm trying to learn what soil works best, how a particular tree responds to pruning, how to correct an inverse taper, how to encourage a good root system, how to graft, how to encourage backbudding, etc. I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a tree to learn on and can't understand why anyone just beginning would. So the beginner goes out and purchases a nice piece of stock, has no "gardening" experience, it ends up dead, and they quit doing bonsai out of frustration. How could you not learn how to care for a tree if its nursery stock? A black pine from Joe Bob Nursery and Joe's House of Already Designed Bonsai requires the same fertilizer, water, soil, light, needle reduction techniques,etc. I have 4 bonsai stock trees that I'm working towards refinement. Most of the work on them is done within a month in the Spring and a little bit in the summer. So since I don't watch TV or have any other hobbies the bonsai time I spend is very little relative to the overall time I have. So the rest of my time is spent tending to seedlings and growing out and experimenting with techniques. Nothing is wasted. If I work on a tree for 15 years and it just wasn't meant to be, then I have a nice tree for my yard, and have been successful at keeping a particular species alive in a container under bonsai conditions. Then some day if I buy a really nice tree, I know how to water it, prune it, when to repot, what diseases it might be more susectible to, etc. What's so hard about growing out trees anyways? If someone can buy good material and has the ability to refine it then shouldn't they also be capable of growing out a seedling? Yeah it might take 30 years, but if your not over the hill already then why not?

Cquinn: "Wait until your tastes get even more refined. When they do your eye will only see 4 figure material as optimum. The only trees I purchase now in the $200.00 range are usually from clubmembers that are getting older, and the tree as been trained as bonsai for 40 yrs. In other words a bargain. I also only by books written by Japanese or Japanese trained artists. When you view these books everyday, what you consider worthy of working on will change dramatically.

I appreciate the "more refined" as much as anyone. I get much more satisfaction though out of a mediocre tree that I shaped completely myself than a masterpiece already designed for 40 years.
 
Last edited:

akhater

Shohin
Messages
481
Reaction score
149
Location
Lebanon
USDA Zone
9
I get much more satisfaction though out of a mediocre tree that I shaped completely myself than a masterpiece already designed for 40 years.
Amen. I totally find myself in these words
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,357
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
much less of a cost than 1 nice peice of material."

You're reading too much into what I said and being a bit shortsighted (which is how I started out). Sure, the fertilizer, water and dirt cost less (arguably over development time measured in years), but you're leaving out your time. Your time is worth something. More developed stock is not more expensive because it's better or worse than seedling stock biologically. It's more expensive because of the time spent on it to develop it. In buying a more advanced piece of material, you're investing in someone else's time (or Mother Nature's time).

I didn't say working on less expensive trees wasn't valuable, but it can become a drag on your time--over time.:D

Nothing wrong with using SOME of it, but devoting ALL your time to such material ultimately wastes your resources. If you can't apply what you've learned with it to a better piece of material, what have you actually accomplished? Sometime down the line, you've got to put that experience to use. That time may be next year, five years, or ten years from now, but at some point you will find yourself looking at the plants you've developed from such humble beginnings and realizing you've grown beyond it -- regardless of whether or not you're looking to develop a "show tree."

I took the plunge when I was into bonsai only four years. I bought a $400 imported Korean Hornbeam. Just learning how to care for that tree, when and what to prune taught me more in a year than I had learned in the last four. If the dang thing had died, my wife would have shot me...:D

"I get much more satisfaction though out of a mediocre tree that I shaped completely myself than a masterpiece already designed for 40 years."

That's the thing. A masterpiece bonsai is NEVER "finished" It changes, it grows or dies back, etc. It offers a new set of unfamiliar challenges that stretch you and your abilities. You will no longer worry about all the same things, as you do with the "mediocre" stock you're working with. You will be challenged to become a better horticulturalist and artist...

"some day if I buy a really nice tree, I know how to water it, prune it, when to repot, what diseases it might be more susectible to, etc. What's so hard about growing out trees anyways?"

More advanced stock requires a more refined understanding of not only how to grow it (fertliization, pruning, repotting, and just about everything else is not the same the more developed a tree is), but also how to make it your own with the right design. Trees are not mechanical. Each is different. What works for one, may not work for another. Older trees respond very differently than younger trees. Don't make the mistake of thinking your education will end with your first "finished" tree.
 
Last edited:

jferrier

Mame
Messages
193
Reaction score
26
Location
Washougal, WA
USDA Zone
7
much less of a cost than 1 nice peice of material."

You're reading too much into what I said and being a bit shortsighted (which is how I started out). Sure, the fertilizer, water and dirt cost less (arguably over development time measured in years), but you're leaving out your time. Your time is worth something. More developed stock is not more expensive because it's better or worse than seedling stock biologically. It's more expensive because of the time spent on it to develop it. In buying a more advanced piece of material, you're investing in someone else's time (or Mother Nature's time).

I didn't say working on less expensive trees wasn't valuable, but it can become a drag on your time--over time.:D

Nothing wrong with using SOME of it, but devoting ALL your time to such material ultimately wastes your resources. If you can't apply what you've learned with it to a better piece of material, what have you actually accomplished? Sometime down the line, you've got to put that experience to use. That time may be next year, five years, or ten years from now, but at some point you will find yourself looking at the plants you've developed from such humble beginnings and realizing you've grown beyond it -- regardless of whether or not you're looking to develop a "show tree."

I took the plunge when I was into bonsai only four years. I bought a $400 imported Korean Hornbeam. Just learning how to care for that tree, when and what to prune taught me more in a year than I had learned in the last four. If the dang thing had died, my wife would have shot me...:D

"I get much more satisfaction though out of a mediocre tree that I shaped completely myself than a masterpiece already designed for 40 years."

That's the thing. A masterpiece bonsai is NEVER "finished" It changes, it grows or dies back, etc. It offers a new set of unfamiliar challenges that stretch you and your abilities. You will no longer worry about all the same things, as you do with the "mediocre" stock you're working with. You will be challenged to become a better horticulturalist and artist...
Fair enough, granted you wouldn't want to spend all your time with rough nursery material as you could just as easily get discouraged by never having a tree you were proud of. That's why I eventually bought better and more finished material so there was a balance. I realize you are paying for another persons time, but me personally, I don't like to pay for someones else's time if I feel I can do it myself. That's just me. And my time is worth something, yes, but I enjoy gardening every bit as much as bonsai, so I don't feel like it's wasted time if I don't have a nice tree to show for it, and that's all that really matters. If I'm home, I'm outside gardening, if I had mowed the lawn already, weeded the flower bed, and ran out of things to do then I'd probably be working on trees when I shouldn't. For me having lots of other trees around keeps me busy and is insurance that I won't be tempted to work on my more developed trees till its the right time. It's my own way of being patient when I want so badly to wire a tree or cut a branch and I know its the wrong time.
 
Last edited:

jferrier

Mame
Messages
193
Reaction score
26
Location
Washougal, WA
USDA Zone
7
More advanced stock requires a more refined understanding of not only how to grow it (fertliization, pruning, repotting, and just about everything else is not the same the more developed a tree is), but also how to make it your own with the right design. Trees are not mechanical. Each is different. What works for one, may not work for another. Older trees respond very differently than younger trees. Don't make the mistake of thinking your education will end with your first "finished" tree.
Not trying to be contradictive just wondering, how are some ways they respond differently? I know young trees can overcome mistakes more easily, but how else?
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,357
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Some older trees don't respond as quickly to pruning. Some do, but you have to know when to do it to some trees.

They need to be left alone in their pots for more time. Frequent repottings (like every three years) can slow them, or kill them. Branches and trunks are developed and you're looking for more ramification, along with denser growth on developed branching. That means fertilization has to be more targeted, not as aggressive, or both.

With older trees, deadwood can develop. Understanding how to deal with that (I mean beyond carving and lime sulphur) effectively is required. Dead wood can run down into the root mass and lead to rot from the inside of a tree...Those are a few.

Like people, young trees may or may not, be able to overcome mistakes more easily. It depends on the mistake and the owner's seeing the mistake...
 
Top Bottom