Mile High Bonsai

therianthrope

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Hello everyone!

New to the forum, here. Long time appreciator of bonsai, but have never attempted the art before, so I am here with the hopes of learning and growing and eventually trying my hand.

I live in Colorado and intend to go hunting and harvest a specimen or two (or three) next spring. Found this forum by googling "colorado bonsai hunting" so I believe there are at least a couple other high-country folk here?

I'll be looking, initially, for info relevant to transplanting specimen from the wild and early care. I have a book on planning and design though look forward to exploring that here as well.

So, anyway, just wanted to introduce myself.

Cheers
 

tmmason10

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I believe there plenty of high-country folk here. Welcome to the forum and the hobby. You already know this but there are great trees to collect in your area, but please study up on collecting or take the trip with someone with experience. Good luck and welcome.
 

therianthrope

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take the trip with someone with experience.
I would love to do this, unfortunately I'm not too well connected in the bonsai world.

I definitely want to get it right, because in the area I want to go to, I could see the starter trees being decades old and it'd make me pretty sad to uproot a guy and have him die.
 

jk_lewis

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If you collect, remember: You MUST get permission (often in the form of a permit) from the owner of the land -- individual, corporate or government -- before you dig. Otherwise, you are stealing.

If you cannot go with someone who has experience collecting, please do NOT go. It is not easy, and I can just about promise you that you will end up with a dead tree. That is always a shame.
 

Mike423

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One of the most important point in finding a nice specimen to collect is to have respect for the tree. Take your time if needed (some times a couple of years) and If you dont believe you can do so successfully do not dig it up. I would recommend getting more acquainted with Bonsai in general before going to collect if you dont have anyone to go with. I would recommend joining your local Bonsai club in your area where you can talk with individuals that have experience. Where are you located? maybe I can help in that respect?
 

therianthrope

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If you collect, remember: You MUST get permission (often in the form of a permit) from the owner of the land -- individual, corporate or government -- before you dig. Otherwise, you are stealing.

If you cannot go with someone who has experience collecting, please do NOT go. It is not easy, and I can just about promise you that you will end up with a dead tree. That is always a shame.
Thank you for your concern. But allow me to assure you, I am a long time outdoorsman of many disciplines, conservation is at the heart of not only ever recreational activity I do, but truly of the way I live. I am well aware of my responsibilities to the people and ecology of the places I choose to do any activities.

Furthermore, I am a semi-experienced horticulturist, gardening and plants have always been an interest of mine. I am not going to just go out and start pushing shovels into the ground. As I said, I am here to do research on how best to transplant, so if you'd like to be helpful feel free to direct me to some threads or links that might lend some insight to the topic.
 

therianthrope

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One of the most important point in finding a nice specimen to collect is to have respect for the tree. Take your time if needed (some times a couple of years) and If you dont believe you can do so successfully do not dig it up. I would recommend getting more acquainted with Bonsai in general before going to collect if you dont have anyone to go with. I would recommend joining your local Bonsai club in your area where you can talk with individuals that have experience. Where are you located? maybe I can help in that respect?
Thanks, Mike! I live in Denver.

I have looked into the Rocky Mtn Bonsai Society, however although the dues are not expensive by any means, I don't know that it makes sense at this time for me to pay for a membership. It's kind of why I joined this forum, I figured I could get similar guidance on-line and if it is something that I find I want to devote more time to, then I would certainly join.
 

JudyB

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Welcome to the forum. I know it's difficult to understand why everyone is trying to steer you away from collecting, must seem like it's a territorial thing. The thing is, that even experienced bonsai growers can have trouble collecting trees, and keeping them alive. It is a skill on a level 10, but you are at level 1. It's like taking the polliwog swim class out to swim in the river... Please go out and purchase a bonsai, keep it alive, and learn about it. When you have been successful at this for a while, think about digging up (collecting) a tree or shrub from your (or someone else's) yard. When you have done this successfully, then you can think about moving out into the wilds and digging up those one of a kind trees. If you must ignore all this advice that is being given, please do listen to the one important point, to take someone who is experienced in this, then the tree may have a chance.
 

grouper52

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Two recommendations, the first MUCH more important than the second:

1.Contact Larry Jackel in the Denver club, and have him or someone he recommends take you collecting for an extended apprenticeship.

2. Read the pertinent chapters in my book about Dan Robinson - Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees.

To successfully transplant trees, especially those in the drier regions of the West, requires great hands-on knowledge and skill. Learning how to do it is not easy, nor is it something you can learn online of from books or DVDs. It is akin to surgery: an ancient, precious life is a stake, the risks are high, and you must patiently learn it in person by repeatedly "scrubbing in" with a seasoned master. And, like surgery, the actual techniques are even less important than the pre-op and post-op care, patient selection, etc. I would not recommend someone expect to learn surgery online or from a book or DVD. Go learn by making rounds and scrubbing in with the best, and Larry Jackel or anyone he recommends will be among the best.
 
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grouper52

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Reading again through this thread, it really seems that what I have said was said just as well by others before me - and dismissed by what appears to be a sophomoric amateur who believes he knows enough to ignore the very advice he came here asking for.

I studied surgery back in the day. I've collected trees in the Rockies with the best. I know what I'm talking about therianthrop. You want advice, you've been given it. You want to ignore it, you don't need to come here. "Nough said.
 

therianthrope

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Reading again through this thread, it really seems that what I have said was said just as well by others before me - and dismissed by what appears to be a sophomoric amateur who believes he knows enough to ignore the very advice he came here asking for.
If jkl would have put it like more like JudyB or you, I would have been much more receptive. His post was very curt and entirely in a negative framing, two things most people don't respond warmly too.

I dismissed nothing, most literature I had read to this point was very much of the message: "Give it a try!", so that's where I was coming from.
 

therianthrope

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Welcome to the forum. I know it's difficult to understand why everyone is trying to steer you away from collecting, must seem like it's a territorial thing. The thing is, that even experienced bonsai growers can have trouble collecting trees, and keeping them alive. It is a skill on a level 10, but you are at level 1. It's like taking the polliwog swim class out to swim in the river... Please go out and purchase a bonsai, keep it alive, and learn about it. When you have been successful at this for a while, think about digging up (collecting) a tree or shrub from your (or someone else's) yard. When you have done this successfully, then you can think about moving out into the wilds and digging up those one of a kind trees. If you must ignore all this advice that is being given, please do listen to the one important point, to take someone who is experienced in this, then the tree may have a chance.
Thanks for the welcome, Judy!

I have cared for shrubs and fruit trees, successfully :p however, I can certainly understand how delicate it can be, and if it is not commonly done as a starting approach, I will not do it.
 

therianthrope

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Two recommendations, the first MUCH more important than the second:

1.Contact Larry Jackel in the Denver club, and have him or someone he recommends take you collecting for an extended apprenticeship.

2. Read the pertinent chapters in my book about Dan Robinson - Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees.

To successfully transplant trees, especially those in the drier regions of the West, requires great hands-on knowledge and skill. Learning how to do it is not easy, nor is it something you can learn online of from books or DVDs. It is akin to surgery: an ancient, precious life is a stake, the risks are high, and you must patiently learn it in person by repeatedly "scrubbing in" with a seasoned master. And, like surgery, the actual techniques are even less important than the pre-op and post-op care, patient selection, etc. I would not recommend someone expect to learn surgery online or from a book or DVD. Go learn by making rounds and scrubbing in with the best, and Larry Jackel or anyone he recommends will be among the best.
Grouper, thank you for the information and rational response re: the difficulties of transplanting. As indicated above, I no longer intend to attempt it, yet or alone. I would love to contact Mr. Jackel if you think he'd be receptive to helping a noob.

You have to understand that most people have to be very prudent with how funds are allocated these days, I'm sorry if you felt disrespected or that I disrespected the art. I intended none towards you or anyone, and don't feel that I showed any.

However, jkl's post was entirely negative. I didn't come here, or to the hobby of bonsai for negativity. Indeed, I seek the exact opposite. Indeed, I feel I was disrespected. Not because I was being advised not to attempt it, but because it was assumed that I had no business doing any of this. The proper way to approach giving such advice, it seems to me, would have been to ask first what experience I had with transplanting trees, or if I knew my lawful obligations. Maybe to say hello first, even. Not to instantly berate me.

I very much appreciate the few welcomes, and the affirmative advice. And I hope you will find I respond quite well to teaching and calm advice, perhaps not so well to elitist lecturing.
 

JudyB

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Thanks for the welcome, Judy!

I have cared for shrubs and fruit trees, successfully :p however, I can certainly understand how delicate it can be, and if it is not commonly done as a starting approach, I will not do it.

I appreciate that you are asking the questions, instead of just rashly going out collecting. Many have done just that, then started asking questions on these forums after it starts going south. So good for you to collect knowledge first, before collecting trees. I can say I have much experience with orcharding, and forestry, (I've planted many hundreds of trees, and cared for them) but applying it to a bonsai is a different science entirely, just go into it knowing that you won't be able to rely on that base alone.
 

jk_lewis

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Sorry if you thought my post was "negative." You would be surprised at how many people don't know they need a permit to collect. I merely point it out every time an obvious bonsai naif say he/she is gonna go out in the wilds and dig.

The second paragraph is a simple statement of fact -- and a suggestion. I suppose I could have said "Pretty Please." The fact is that trees growing wild in the arid west are extremely difficult to collect -- even for those with lots of experience.

And you have to admit that your response was a bit pompous.
 

therianthrope

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Sorry if you thought my post was "negative." You would be surprised at how many people don't know they need a permit to collect. I merely point it out every time an obvious bonsai naif say he/she is gonna go out in the wilds and dig.

The second paragraph is a simple statement of fact -- and a suggestion. I suppose I could have said "Pretty Please." The fact is that trees growing wild in the arid west are extremely difficult to collect -- even for those with lots of experience.

And you have to admit that your response was a bit pompous.
It wouldn't surprise me at all to know how many people don't know to consult the proper authority. I just don't react well to negativity, and there truly wasn't a single supportive element to your post.

Sorry for the snap, but next time a starry eyed noob comes to you with their dreams, maybe just let them down a little easier? Fair? :D

Ultimately, though, I really don't have money to spend on buying a decent starter tree, nor the desire to grow one from a 2 or 3" seedling, and since I don't have a tree, there's not a lot of return on joining a club ATM, either. Doesn't seem to leave me a whole lot of options. How did you all get started?
 
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JudyB

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There are options for good pre-bonsai stock for not a lot of money. It depends on what your tastes are, which is right for you. Some bonsai nurseries are better for tropicals, and some are better for other things. But you can get your foot in the door with a decent plant for under $50. that would probably include shipping. If you start with something pre-bonsai, it'll allow you to grow your knowledge with the plant. You'll learn a lot more than if you start with a "finished" product anyway. There is also the standard (store) nursery stock that can be rewarding if you spend the time to find the "right" stock. It seems like this might be right up your alley, sort of a challenge to hunt it down... I'm attaching a link to a tutorial that grouper posted on another forum, this helped me to find stock when I was looking. It really is an art unto itself.
http://www.bonsaisite.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9905
Somewhere there is an article from Vance Wood that I can't find now. I thought it was on the Art of Bonsai articles... This is an amazing thing if you can find it. If you need pointers to find some bonsai stock within a budget, just post the question, you may have some folks in your area who know where to find.
 

BrianBay9

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Collecting in the Rockies is not that difficult, IF you find the right tree. I've collected 50 or 60 trees with an 80% success rate. I've never spent more than about 15 min actually removing the tree from the rocky pocket it was in. I've often spent all day looking for a tree that I felt I could collect successfully. And that is really the trick - finding the collectable tree, and having the experience to recognize it when you do.

When I started collecting, I read everything I could, but I also found that people who do collect often don't want newbies along. Many of these folks are making money from collecting, and don't want to share good sites. I've also offered to share sites I've found if people wanted to come along, but I never got anyone to accept.

So, I sympathize with the desire to try on your own. My advice is, get permission, start with pines (not junipers), collect only off of rocky outcroppings, and start with a few trees that are younger/smaller/not the best your site has to offer. Yes, you will probably kill some. Read about collecting from Walter Pall's site. Get the DVD on collecting from Andy Smith's site.

Go have a good day walking in the mountains.

Brian
 

mcpesq817

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My club had Larry Jackel visit this past weekend for the third or fourth year in a row. Each time he comes, he gives us a slide presentation of what he sees in the mountains, and talks a little bit about his experiences in collecting. My sense from his presentations is that the actual collecting is pretty easy - the hard part is finding collectable trees, and more importantly, the after care.

The collectable trees tend to grow in shallow pockets in the granite slabs, and usually only require a crowbar to lift (sometimes they can be lifted out by hand). The ones that grow into vertical fissures are mostly uncollectable. It's not like digging out landscape trees whether you need shovels, picks, saws, etc. But, it takes some experience to locate and figure out which trees are collectable and which ones are not.

It sounds like the biggest thing to learn is the after care. Because CO can have very low humidity, I believe Larry puts them under a misting system to help his trees recover. And it sounds like under his current system, he is near 100% success rate.

Anyway, I just throw that out there so that you don't think the biggest issue with collecting is how to dig the tree out. I'll second all those that said you should seek out collectors and/or local clubs so that you can learn from people that know what they are doing.

Good luck! I wish I lived in an area where I had access to material like that :D
 

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