Scots Pine from home depot.

Joeface

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I'm an absolute beginner trying to find some stuff to learn on so I got this scots pine from home depot on sale for like 10 bucks. So I guess I have a few questions:

1) Did I pick out an okay tree?
2) There's so much going on here I don't know where to start styling wise, any pointers?




(The thing in the pic is a standard size credit card)
sorry the pics are from a few different angles I didn't know where to begin.

Thanks for your time!
 

edprocoat

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First you need to decide what style you are training this tree in. It has a great trunk which can imitate age and height in a small size tree. Personally I would open up the side in the second picture you posted to show the trunk. I beleive the scots pine should be pruned late fall to winter. If it wre mine I would prune the double branch the card is resting on in pic #2 and the lower thinner branch on the right of the trunk and the small one that is pointing at you in that picture. I would probably air layer the big lower branch on the right side as its almost tree looking by itself. I am sure there are many here who are familiar with this plant and would have better ideas, just wanted to offer my 2 cents worth, nice looking tree though.

ed
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Joeface, a few questions first:
1. Have you done anything to it yet? (Don't layer that branch...wrong tree, wrong time)
2. What experience do you have, as an "absolute beginner"? Any reading, wiring, friends doing bonsai?
3. What drew you in to this tree...what do you like about it that you want to keep?
4. Is it safe to assume you want to work on this now, and this isn't a purchase intended to grow out for years later?
5. Where are you located?
 

JudyB

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Joe, looks like you've picked a decent piece of material to work with, no mean feat for nursery stock. But Brian is right, we need to know more about you and especially where you are to tell you more about what can be done with it safely.
 

Vance Wood

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The first thing I would do, and I would suggest you do it also, is to remove it from the nursery container. With your hands GENTLY remove the top layer of soil down to a point where you can see where the first surface roots emerge from the trunk. This will give you some sort of idea of what you are really dealing with. The nursery trade is notorious for the practice of throwing a bunch of fresh soil in on top of the soil mass when potting up to a larger container. When you have done this take a couple of pictures of the results and put the tree back into the nursery container leaving the rest of the soil mass alone. As for now, until you get a good idea of what you want to do with this tree, just leave it alone until spring of this next season.

Unless the tree screams out to you about a particular style, it is best to take a little time and look for possibilities, remembering that every style and form depends on the trunk and base of the tree. More than once I have seen good material ruined because someone has made some sort of arbitrary decision about what the tree should be. The results are far better if the material gives you ideas rather than trying to make the material conform to some idea the tree may not be ideally suited for.
 

Gene Deci

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Vance's advice is, as usual, good and I would hope you consider it carefully. An important part of any bonsai is the base of the trunk and the roots as they enter the soil (the nebari) Deciding on the front of the tree and the branch structure should not be done without examining the nebari first. THinking about the options for awhile never hurts either. Perhaps the most important lesson of all is learning to be patient.
 

Vance Wood

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. Perhaps the most important lesson of all is learning to be patient.

And in many ways the most difficult. Most beginners go to a nursery, or where ever, to obtain material to work on. The last thing they want to be told is to be patient and wait. This is why I usually tell those starting out to find a decent Juniper, preferably Chinese (Juniperus Chinensis----), of which there are many cultivars (versions), not too expensive and very forgiving of mistakes and abuses. Problem with style still remains but with Junipers there is a great tendency to want to make them into cascades. This should be avoided at the first. Look for other solutions then go to cascade.
 

Shimpaku

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That is a beautiful tree. Try to avoid instant gratification in making it look like a bonsai in a short period of time. The tree will suffer and possibly perish. I would get to know it over the course of a year, just working to keep it healthy.

Personally, I would work with something a little more forgiving as your first try at styling and set this aside while you learn. Good pick up.
 

Stan Kengai

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Everyone is being nice with their comments thus far, so I'll beat Harry and Al to the punch in telling it like it is. Joeface, yes, this looks like decent material. Give it to someone who knows what they're doing! (half kidding) Pine is one of the "advanced" level bonsai genuses (genus', geni?), ergo they're not ideal for a novice. Pines require extremely specialized techniques and generally take a very long time to develop. This is not conducive to success for the novice enthusiast. You need something that can provide that "instant gratification" of making a bonsai, or you will eventually give up in frustration (that's not a knock on you, it's just the way society is today). If you don't already have a few chopped up (still living) junipers sitting around, go get a few, as Vance suggested.

All that being said, you can probably develop this into a nice bonsai with an infinite amount of patience. To give you an idea, this particular specimen would take at least 10 years of training to become even a modest bonsai. So, read up on techniques, and train it very simply and slowly. In the mean time, try to find some material that is much more forgiving and faster to develop.

Here is a good place to read up on bonsai: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm Scots culture is much like that of the Japanese black pine.

Also, Peter Adams has a section in his book "The Art of Bonsai" dedicated entirely to Scots Pine. The book was published by Ward Lock, but I think it's out of print. If you can't find the book, PM me and I'll see if I can help.
 
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Smoke

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Actually I don't respond to threads like this any longer. I have no idea why anyone would buy a piece of material with a purpose in mind and then come to a forum and ask how to proceed with making it into something....but thats just me..

Good luck with your piece of material. May it bring you many years of enjoyment, Al
 

Joeface

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@Brian Van Fleet
1) All I've done to it is brush off the dry, dead needles.
2) I don't have any experience working on trees, but I have read a few beginner books and read a lot of the articles on bonsai4me (there was a long one about pines).
3) I liked the width and gentle lean of the trunk, it's not very radical or overwhelming. I thought having more branches up top would leave more possibilities for branch structure.
4) Yeah, I want to work on this one soon.
5) I live in eastern Nebraska, zone 5.

@Vance
I'll try to get some pictures of the surface roots when I get home from work, it was a little harder than I thought it would be because there are a lot of fine roots growing upwards that I didn't think I should damage too much.

oh it is a dwarf scotch pine, Pinus sylvestris 'Glauca Nana'

Thanks everybody :D
 

Klytus

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Hmm,U-bend roots that grow down,then up,then girdle the trunk before zipping off over the revealed soil surface and then plunging downwards striking bottom and then circling the pot a few times.

It's no easy task and will take several years just to get shot of these crazy roots.
 

Vance Wood

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Actually I don't respond to threads like this any longer. I have no idea why anyone would buy a piece of material with a purpose in mind and then come to a forum and ask how to proceed with making it into something....but thats just me..

Good luck with your piece of material. May it bring you many years of enjoyment, Al

Uh---because they're beginners and don't have a clue? If they did understand they wouldn't need to ask the questions. I no longer crap in my pants (at least for now) but there was a time when I did. I am now older and know better.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Actually I don't respond to threads like this any longer. I have no idea why anyone would buy a piece of material with a purpose in mind and then come to a forum and ask how to proceed with making it into something....but thats just me..

Good luck with your piece of material. May it bring you many years of enjoyment, Al

We've all been there. We all started somewhere. I have bought my share of material like this - particularly back when I lived in the MidWest and didn't have access to good nursery stock or wild material. You CAN learn from working with ANY material - no matter how humble its source - even if what you learn is not to start with that type of material again :) Or how to ramify pines even if the pines aren't going to end up anywhere. Or just how to keep a tree alive or how to repot something.

The whole point of asking for help is to express your own ignorance. Does an algebra teacher belittle their students because they don't know algebra on the first day of school? And no matter how full our knowledge base is, is it ever complete? Is it ever perfect? :)
 

Bonsai Nut

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I'm an absolute beginner trying to find some stuff to learn on so I got this scots pine from home depot on sale for like 10 bucks. So I guess I have a few questions

Joe, here's the honest truth from someone who has been exactly where you are now.

That particular material will be good for you to work on if you focus on building stepping stones of bonsai knowledge that will prepare you for future material. In other words, you will probably throw that tree away at some point in the future. :) I'm just being totally honest. If you take THAT approach and say "hey it was 10 bucks - now I want to do "X" and not kill it" you will be happier in the future than thinking you will use this particular tree to end up with a beautiful bonsai. It would require years and years of work and ultimately not be worth the effort - in that you can start somewhere else with different stock and be decades ahead of the game for not too much more money. And is a decade of your time worth $100? :)

So what could you learn with this tree? You could learn:

(1) How to depot, untangle roots, and repot without killing it. Nice skills to have before you start working on more expensive stock.
(2) How to balance energy in a pine, and go through a couple of seasons of needle cutting, bud selection, candle trimming, etc (this is a hard subject to master, even after years)
(3) In conjunction with (2), how to wire branches properly and develop good ramification.

Focus on THESE THINGS and worry less about design because design on this tree really isn't worth it. Create an awesome ramified Scots Pine, and after three years plant it in your yard :) Then you will be well ahead of the game when you go to buy pre-bonsai stock from a nursery. Trust me. Five years from now you will be well past this tree's potential IF you focus on developing skills. Otherwise you will continue to beat your head against the wall trying to make a purse out of a sow's ear :)
 

Bonsai Nut

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Even after yard planting there is still the possibility of enjoying design,Niwaki.

I wish I had a photo of the Japanese Black Pine in front of Chikugo-En Bonsai Nursery in Gardena. Last time I asked Gary how long it took him to maintain it and I think he said he spends three days trimming and selecting buds in the Fall. Three days on one tree! And Gary Ishii probably knows as much about JBP as anyone in the country!
 

Smoke

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The whole point of asking for help is to express your own ignorance. Does an algebra teacher belittle their students because they don't know algebra on the first day of school? And no matter how full our knowledge base is, is it ever complete? Is it ever perfect? :)

Yes but does that student come to class on the first day with a partial equation on the theory of quantum mechanics expecting to learn how to solve it in a day?

Once again I am sorry I even typed a message. But...thats the world we live in.


I work with Ted Matson several times a year. I am amazed at the breadth of knowledge he has and the soft touch he uses when speaking with new people. A very nice person that has nothing but nice things to say at all times. I have watched him work with a new person with a piece of material that is less than perfect. He works his way around all the flaws and tells them where they went wrong. Now the person comes back next time with much the same piece of material. They are not learning. This is something they will have to learn on their own. It is not something that is teachable.

This person bought this peice of material for two reasons. One, it was cheap. Two, it was big.

Whenever a newbie can combine big and cheap in the same purchase it has to be good right?

Well Colin Lewis thought bonsai were trees 10 inches tall for years because he saw them in a book and the book was only 11 inches tall. He didn't know any different. Today we have books and magazines and Kokufu books and internet that show large bonsai with thick trunks and massive amounts of deadwood. Those are the attributes that standout to someone new to this scene. A person can spend one night on the internet and think they know everything there is about bonsai from one session.

After this guy soils a few diapers and shows me some work, I may have some things to offer...but this forum does not need me to pile on with "buy a few juniper, buy a better tree."
 

Klytus

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It will be easier once the graft is visible,it may be freaking hideous and look like the scion will slide off at any moment.

But maybe not.
 

Shimpaku

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I am new to this forum, but have been working with Bonsai for a decade. It's a shame that this forum has such a welcoming feel, but a couple individuals that go out of their way to condescend a beginner. After reading some of the threads, it is the same repetition of this from a couple users; and it is troubling when this hobby has so much gratification to offer, even a beginner. Why bother making a comment sometimes?

Deriving pleasure in others belittlement really is sad.

SMOKE--You chased off another---I am referring to myself. Signing Off.....
 

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