does anyone know of any reputable pre-bonsai stock vendors? I conduct a weekly patrol of local nurseries/lowes/home depot, but often they do not have trees that are young enough...
My friend anywhere you go the trees are just to old. Unless, you go to a Bonsai nursery, you'll find a nice tree. I suggest that you begin looking for some nice tree seeds. First of all, you can get exotic trees, it's more rewarding, and I believe its cheaper. The only down side is the percentage of trees that germinate and grow. Its a trial and error process but like I said before, its very rewarding.
As part of a project I'm working on, I recently did some recorded interviews with one of the bonsai greats (don't want to spoil the project by disclosing who, at this point). I asked him what advice he would give to someone just starting out in bonsai, and this was his reply:
"The first thing that I would do is I’d point out some realities. And one of the most sinister realities, in a way, is that in nature 99% of all seeds that sprout die before they’re 20 years old. If you could get the person that you’re confronting to grasp that concept, and go with it, right away it directs them very positively in the right direction: You start with big, old material. Start with something that’s a survivor. Something that’s 20 years old, a hundred years, just don’t start with baby trees. And if you do, then start with a great many so you have a survivor. The brutal thing about that reality is that people get abused. They do everything right, and they still die. And I’ sorry, that does not engender in that person enthusiasm for the art. They all say, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “No, I’ve tried that, and they all die.” And so, if you can disabuse them of the notion that it’s romantic and cute and mothering and all that to start with baby trees, you’ve taken a huge step, a leap forward in this thing.
"And the acquisition of that stuff is problematic. Where you gonna get it? Well, there’s a multitude of ways you can get it. There’s solutions to that thing. But you’ve got to get them out of the frame of mind that they can do it from a seed. And that’s a terrible thing to tell somebody. I mean, hope burns eternal, right?"
I have to disagree . . . However; suggesting to a beginner that he/she should start at this point is a sure formula for failure.
Since the quote I gave was a response to my question about advice to beginners, and since you later agree on that point, I'm not sure why you would need to start off your response with, "I have to disagree . . . " unless just trying to fit in with the generally disagreeable tone of most bonsai forums. Another disagreeable foray into BNut input and interaction - who woulda thunk it? Haven't been much a part of this forum lately: now I remember why.