Impediments to beginners?

James W.

Chumono
Messages
546
Reaction score
569
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
In your opinion, what are the major impediments to people beginning and continuing in this hobby?
And what can we do to help them?
 

HorseloverFat

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,208
Reaction score
13,105
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
Lack of patience. Not timing procedures correctly.

Ill advised Attempts to 'trick' nature. Trees inside that SHOULDN'T be.

Rigid, rude 'breadstick" people..

A rude, off-hand comment about people's work, or thought procedure can REALLY affect those new.. I've seen many simply respond by not returning... and this means we are NOT helping them.

If one doesn't WANT to help... one should, politely, curb their yammering skull cave.

Newbies don't deserve to be berated.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
11,297
Reaction score
15,838
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Not listening to advice they asked for--not having a real willingness to learn.
A bit of humility--Being insulted when someone suggests they could improve their tree-regulars don't deserve to be berated.
Asking questions AFTER they've already done something questionable
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,413
Reaction score
4,628
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Hmm….

What @HorseloverFat said, also about keeping the tenure respectful on site… on both sides of a questions.

Trying to learn about everything at once instead of focusing on a couple species good for one’s area.

Not realizing bonsai is a process that takes years. Starting with trees in an appropriate age group with one’s expectations.

Nuance. Bonsai/Penjing is a huge evolving field of study where traditions, styles, customs and methods abound. Nuance is hard to learn when one is up to their kiester in a forest of alligators, when one’s original intention was to ‘drain the swamp’!

Cheers
DSD sends
 

HorseloverFat

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,208
Reaction score
13,105
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
Not listening to advice they asked for--not having a real willingness to learn.
A bit of humility--Being insulted when someone suggests they could improve their tree-regulars don't deserve to be berated.
Asking questions AFTER they've already done something questionable
Oh yes, it's definitely frustrating from the "giving advice" end sometimes, as well. I understand it can be INFURIATING watching people struggle AGAINST your words and attempted direction.

I just feel, after a while, that If advice ISN'T taken....

...it's no skin off my trees



Almost like... "Those trying to HELP... should be willing to TEACH.

and those questing FOR HELP... should be willing to LEARN."

Or else... there is no point.
 

dbonsaiw

Chumono
Messages
518
Reaction score
489
Location
New York
USDA Zone
7b
As a newbie myself, I would say lack of patience and a difficulty organizing concepts. Learning comes from practice and mistakes. The long timeline of this hobby makes learning from mistakes a multi year process which can be discouraging.
Changing trends (like what is considered good soil) and the “it depends” stemming from different species of trees, in different soils, in different climates etc makes imparting and organizing information difficult. It’s very easy to conflates ideas and do the totally wrong thing. May seem stupid to those with decades of experience but when one doesn’t know what they don’t know it’s easy to pull an Amelia badelia (for those who remember the books).
humility and an acknowledgment that others know way more is an important start. There is also no replacement for hands on experience. Asking questions, no matter how “stupid” or redundant of other posts is essential. The nuances can only be discerned by coming at the same issue repeatedly from different angles until the concepts are understood and can be applied to specific situations.
as for asking questions after doing something stupid, well I’m guilty of that. Again, hands on experience teaches us what we don’t actually know. I studied Peter Adam’s book only to walk away with more questions. As many times as I may have read andrea merrigollis book, I do not yet have his knowledge. The stupid things I’ve personally done were me trying to perform an operation I believed was being conveyed. It’s not until actually setting ones hands on the project that the necessary details become apparent. Stupid mistakes are inevitable as are the questions that will follow.
more trees and more practice. I actually looked to the big box stores for cheap material I could experiment with and make all my stupid mistakes. I will admit that I have become emotionally attached to these trees and now want to see them live and become bonsai.
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
Messages
13,240
Reaction score
40,578
Location
B’ham, AL
USDA Zone
8A
Refusing to follow tried and true practices and insisting 2+2=5. Instead, find someone with trees you admire, and do what they do. Period.
Rejecting that bonsai is expensive, and you pay with either time or money. Accept that there are no real shortcuts, it’s work or pay.
Forcing a tree into a different growing rhythm than they’re genetically wired for. Instead, grow what grows in your area, work at the right time.
 

River's Edge

Masterpiece
Messages
4,102
Reaction score
10,333
Location
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
USDA Zone
8b
In your opinion, what are the major impediments to people beginning and continuing in this hobby?
And what can we do to help them?
For the first question it is patience and perseverance. Knowledge is more readily available now than ever before. Allowing progress for those interested in applying themselves at whatever level and budget they choose.

For the second question, find a way to reduce the number of times individuals on the forum take a thread off track or treat others with disrespect. Often individuals contribute for a period of time and simply get tired of the "few" who make it a habit to create controversy or push their agenda.
 

Eckhoffw

Omono
Messages
1,718
Reaction score
2,633
Location
St. Paul Mn.
USDA Zone
4b
I would say expectations.
Not knowing what one wishes to accomplish by diving into the hobby.

Some wish to be Miyagi and shape a bonsai because it looks cool.
If it’s a surface level desire, than a surface level experience will result.
 

Larrytx

Sapling
Messages
43
Reaction score
24
Location
North-Central Texas
USDA Zone
8
I’m one of those beginners and my granddaughter gave me one of those Harland Boxwoods for Christmas. When it arrived I first noticed the roots above the soil. It has already got to where water is not coming out of the bottom as my other plants. I can fix that, but what do I do with the roots on top of the soil? I don’t know whether to trim the roots off, or plant the tree to a depth where the roots are covered.
CA915C9F-82E0-4E0A-BBB6-223796DC2A92.jpeg
 

Eckhoffw

Omono
Messages
1,718
Reaction score
2,633
Location
St. Paul Mn.
USDA Zone
4b
I’m one of those beginners and my granddaughter gave me one of those Harland Boxwoods for Christmas. When it arrived I first noticed the roots above the soil. It has already got to where water is not coming out of the bottom as my other plants. I can fix that, but what do I do with the roots on top of the soil? I don’t know whether to trim the roots off, or plant the tree to a depth where the roots are covered.
View attachment 419474
For now, just cover them up with soil. In spring you may want to root prune/repot.
 

James W.

Chumono
Messages
546
Reaction score
569
Location
Augusta, KS
USDA Zone
6b
Very good replies,all.
I was actually thinking at at tangent to what most of your answers were.
My personal experience in trying to get started was a lack of local material, starters and pre-bonsai. Limited accessibility to materials. No training. Books were vague and contradictory. No training available. (Note that the first time I tried to start into bonsai was 30 years ago, think usergroup and dial-up forums instead of The Interweb.) When I tried again the web was there, but my ignorance made it dangerous and there was still no local sources that I could find.
Yes, all of your answers address to the success of a newbie. I'm trying to figure out how to empower people to even try. And no, the internet has not solved all of the issues I had.
 

PaulH

Omono
Messages
1,567
Reaction score
2,823
Location
Rescue, CA
- Not seeking out a club, mentor, or qualified instructor
- watching the many charlatans on youtube. The good ones can be counted on one hand.
- buying box store plants with no bonsai potential.
- not educating oneself in horticulture and plant biology, soil science.
-buying mallsai or from that guy in a van on the side of the road.
- trying bonsai techniques (e.g. wiring) before understanding the purpose and proper method.

I well remember the thrill of my first bonsai as well as the frustration when I killed it. Find a successful mentor to help you get your first tree,
 

Lorax7

Chumono
Messages
782
Reaction score
998
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
5b
Too few trees. Bonsai is a hobby. A hobby should occupy enough of your free time to bring enjoyment. There are inherent horticultural limits to how much work can be done to a tree while maintaining health. Ergo, one should have enough trees that the amount of leisure time one wishes to spend on the hobby is occupied without exceeding those horticultural limits. Having too few trees is a source of temptation and the root of impatience. Of course, it is also possible to have too many trees, but that is rarely a problem encountered by beginners.

Another issue that sometimes accompanies the “too few trees” problem is the reluctance to work on one’s trees. Confidence comes from practice and you have to have enough trees to get a reasonable amount of practice to get your skills to a level where you can work the tree without being afraid of making an irrevocable mistake that will kill the tree or make it permanently ugly. This is especially an issue if someone has just one, fairly expensive tree. If your only tree is a really nice tree that was expensive and you’re afraid to do anything to it but water and fertilize, your skills cannot advance. You need to have some cheap nursery stock that you can make mistakes on without it being a horrible tragedy if one of them should die by your (inexperienced) hand.
 

MSU JBoots

Mame
Messages
145
Reaction score
101
Location
Grand Rapids Michigan
USDA Zone
6a
I’ll let you know some more after this upcoming growing season. I had a juniper mallsai for 3 years on my kitchen table I did nothing but water. This last fall I decided it needed to be repotted into an actual bonsai pot. That led me to finally educate myself. Well that tree is dead but I have 5 in it’s place. Since I can’t join the local club currently and have no real mentor I joined Mirai live and this forum. My knowledge is still quite limited in the grand scheme but vast in contrast to 6 months ago. I feel I am well prepared to start the basics this year of repotting, pruning, and wiring. Moving forward I think patience will be my biggest hurdle. I plan to buy about 6 more trees in the coming year so I can practice various aspects of the practice. All of them will likely be cheap nursery stock that will never be a great bonsai but from what I’ve read here I will likely kill a number of them. I would love to find one decent pre bonsai that is ready to start more of a refinement process as everything else will be very much developmental. I think my other struggle will be to slow down and not try to much at once. I would love to air layer some things or create cuttings this year but know I should likely wait another year to do so.
 

kale

Mame
Messages
229
Reaction score
311
Location
Colorado, USA
USDA Zone
5b
Not watering multiple times a day in summer killed a few of my first trees.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom