Show and Tell?

Vance Wood

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Over the time span of the last couple of weeks or so there have been a couple of subjects raised as to how good collected materials and professionally grown prebonsai are compared to nursery trees for bonsai. It is claimed that you will get a fine bonsai a lot quicker with the collected or prebonsai than you will with nursery stock. I do not dispute this on the face of it, but the proponents of this argument go on to demonize nursery stock using the adverb "never" to describe the results from nursery stock, and in a kind of veiled way those who utilize this source.

Those of you who are familiar with my work know that the majority of my bonsai have been made from nursery material. This is not because I am cheap, or stubborn, or stupid, it is because I make choices on the basis of the quality of the stock, not the source or the price. One of the latest discussion on this subject came about after I posted a thread dealing with a Shimpaku designed for an Internet styling contest in 2005. One thing I have found to be sadly lacking in these discussions is proof, visual proof, in the form of pictures demonstrating a progression from collected tree, or purchased stock, to showable bonsai in a stated amount of time. It is argued that a show-able bonsai will be obtained quicker with "The Good Stuff" than with "Cheap Nursery Stock". It is also claimed that this is the direction we should be pushing the newbies rather than letting them think that cheap nursery stock will provide them with acceptable material.

The dirty little secret is that collecting good trees is not easy, if you purchase them they are not cheap and the prebonsai market is way over-inflated, and quality wise, over rated and over priced. It still comes down to an individuals ability to make a subjective choice, and an ability to recognize good material from expensive or difficult to obtain garbage. Just remember that exclusivity of stock is not necessarily an indicator of high quality.

So what I propose here is a little friendly competition: I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Hopefull we will get to see a learning and cultural progression.
 

agraham

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This is just my opinion Vance...and to be sure,not a slam of anyone's trees.To me....and in general,regular landscape nursery material lacks the patina of age.They are produced as quickly as possible and with no consideration of taper or character.

I'm not saying that they don't make fine bonsai,nor am I saying that they can't be "aged" artificially.But,they usually look like they have been artificially aged.A few jins and sharis that are obviously not natural do not successfully age a tree.A curvy trunk...with movement but little taper looks like a cheap Chinese import no matter who does the styling.

Good prebonsai takes a long time and a lot of work to develop.It is not cheap.If someone has put 20 hours of wiring and repotting and trimming and watering and fertilizing into a "prebonsai" over a period of 3 to 5 years,how much should they expect to receive in payment?Even at minimum wage,you're talking 100 bucks or more.We won't count the cost of money(interest and lost revenue from initial investment).Let's not even think of the overhead,taxes,licenses,water cost,fertilizer cost,soil cost.Or GOD forbid.....a profit.

Remember...we're not talking about landscape material that is plopped into a pot or the ground,sheared with hedge trimmers and then sold.

I have no problem what so ever with people who wish to buy from home depot or lansdcape nurseries.I have no problem with people who shop for the cheapest price.I have no problem with the people who take relatively young landscape grown material and make bonsai from it.I do have a problem with people who make the claim that bonsai nurseries and suppliers are all overpriced.It's a limited market and labor intensive.It also take a good amount of time to produce good stock.

You wrote an article about the problem with bonsai in America.Think about it again.Think about the difference in stock that the Europeans are working with...and then think about the stock that you encourage people to work with.It's not about laziness or "good enough is good enough".It's about the value that most Americans place on bonsai.Even our teachers.

Let me add(in edit)....If you are asking for people to show their "finished" bonsai,your challenge has little to do with beginning material and much to do with the skill of the artist.If you are trying to compare how "quickly" one type of material can be made into acceptable(your word,not mine)bonsai...then I think you are missing the point.Refer back to your article.

andy
 
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I think Vance is only saying, that if it is true that only pre-bonsai material can be made into decent bonsai and done so quicker, then the people who are saying so must have examples that they are basing their opinions on. I would hope so anyhow....

Vance develops bonsai from the dreaded nursery stock so many say should be avoided, he claims that it is not where you buy it or how much you pay for stock that matters, what matters is the quality of the stock. And he has many examples to base his opinion on.

I have seen Vance's results on-line and in person and it is very hard to argue with results. I would be interested in seeing some results from pre-bonsai stock from those who say that using nursery stock is a waste of time.

The skill of the artist is always a factor, there are some who could do more with a three years old sapling then others could do with a 500 year old collected Mugo, but that has never been part of this debate. This debate centers on those who flat out claim that no good bonsai can come of a piece of stock bought at a nursery, simply because of where it was bought. These few people also make it sound like specialized bonsai nurseries only have excellent stock and everything in such is better because it is there. They also hint that a high price must be paid for quality stock, while good stock can cost more, it does not mean that good stock can be found for less as well.

I have always said that good stock should be judged by the nebari, taper, branching, movement, etc good stock should never be judged on where it was bought or how much was paid for it.

This thread can only be educational and lead to this debate having solid results from both sides to weight the opinions given. Good post Vance.



Will
 

Rick Moquin

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I have always said that good stock should be judged by the nebari, taper, branching, movement, etc good stock should never be judged on where it was bought or how much was paid for it.
... and rightfully so.

I have not collected and "bonsai stock" in my area is non existent, therefore I am limited to nursery stock. Let's not discuss price here but let's do some simple reflections. No I do not have any tangible proof for this discussion but I do know how to apply logic. What will produce a quicker bonsai, without a doubt pre-bonsai stock over nursery stock hands down, and perhaps some yamadori (the correct one that is).

Now that I have opened the can of whoop a$$ let me clarify my position. Undoubtidely there is some good nursery stock out there when one finds it, an example was the 2 mugos I recently purchased. However, stock of this quality is few and far between, even Vance will admit that in the majority of cases they are lucky finds. On the other hand, nursery stock or trees that were acquired and grown into bonsai stock will be further ahead, in the hands of a careful and knowledgeable grower.

If we take an average piece of nursery stock it will take some time to develop it's potential and hence longer to develop the "bonsai". If on the other hand a piece of pre-bonsai material that is acquired, that received the proper care and development prior to ones possession, which one is further ahead. IMO it's a no brainer as one can immediatly start styling and working the tree vice planting it out, for various developmental reasons.

On the other hand, that only good bonsais are only available from pre-bonsai or collected material is purely rubish, and in that case then I will side with Vance on this one and say "show me the money".

One question Vance did not addressed in his post is what kind of time frame are we looking at here? If we take Walter for example who acquires stock nursery and otherwise, plants it out and forgets about it for 5-10 years and then, as he states is another 3-8 years before he has what he considers a bonsai. In his case this is not a difficult decision, he has so many trees, in various stages of development, he has the luxury to wait IMO for the right conditions. But I believe what Vance was alluring to is, what do we recommend to neophytes (I hate "newbies")? When a newly introduced enthusiast picks up this hobby, he does not have the knowledge to pick out proper nursery stock let alone pre-bonsai stock without tutoring. He can read all the articles he/she may want, but without a one on one teaching this is extremely difficult, hence the purchase of "mallsai". Very few newly introduced enthusiast will actually fork out the coin required in acquiring a bonsai, it would be money thrown down the drain IMO, as he/she does not have a clue horticulturally nor artistically at this stage on how to look after and futher progress the tree.

The following is an excerpt form an article I wrote:

Even amongst the more knowledgeable and reputable enthusiasts, opinions and approaches will vary. Brent wrote, "Don't buy a "bonsai"! That is a poor way to begin this fascinating hobby and usually doomed to failure. "Bonsai" is not about "owning" bonsai trees, but rather the enjoyment of caring for them and especially creating them."

Harry's take on the subject is diametrically opposed. "Why is it necessary for everyone to feel the need to create "Bonsai", particularly when many will fail to achieve anything worthy of being called Bonsai? Creating a good bonsai is considerably more difficult than simply caring for one. People should be encouraged to buy healthy bonsai from a reputable source to at least sate their initial enthusiasm.

The commonly held idea that the average purchased bonsai is by any means finished and would not benefit from 5-10 years work on the branch structure, (improving it's scale and ramification) or work on its trunk and nebari (improving the lateral roots, their scale and ramification), is very naive. Until an enthusiast truly understands what separates a "good" bonsai design from a "bad" bonsai design, how can they hope to guide a seedling there?

When a beginner has gained the knowledge required to look after a bonsai successfully (both in horticultural and aesthetics terms), then they can go on to the next step, which is to create them. If bonsai is truly an art form as well as a craft, we need to move away from the DIY mentality that states that a bonsai not developed from seedling or raw material by its owner is somehow inferior."


It was also discussed that money should not be a factor, and I support that position, because bonsai is about the journey vice owning them, well it is to the "true" enthusiast anyway. However, the person with the wad and is willing to spend it, will get there sooner than any one else, its a fact of life. Money talks and ........ walks.

So in refelection what is it, owning world class trees or the journey to get there? Either way it's going to take a lot of time or a lot of money to get there, and no one can deny that fact.

It will take the average individual 2 years minimum to acquire the basics in our chosen passion, around 5 years to develop the necessary intermediate skills and around 10 years to develop the advanced techniques.

I have several JBP seedlings that are a year old. This is no doubt the longest way to get there. However, growing form seed allows the learnt enthusiast to apply skills learned in their early stages of development to further their progression, whilst being careful not to impeed growth. It is said that a shohin is available (if all was done right in 5-7 years) I guess we will have to see. I believe it is more important to have trees in various stages of development in order to satay ones enthusiasm while progressing in our hobby.

In closing it is said that money should not be a factor, well I cannot endorse that argument because whoever has the most does wind up with the most toys quicker, its a simple fact of life. Whether it be growing from seed, purchasing nursery stock or acquiring pre-bonsai material, someone has spent a bunch of time and money developing stock into future bonsais.

Having said that, if the only good bonsais come out of either collected or pre-bonsai material then that is pure rubish. If time is a factor on achieving the end, as discussed there is no doubt the latter will get there sooner. Only the "rare" and exceptional nursery stock will give the rest a run for their money. The reason why I say that, is because we all know that nursery stock is grown for landscape purposes whilst pre-bonsai stock is grown for bonsais.
 

John Hill

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I agree that a good bonsai can be developed from nursery stock Vance, A tree is a tree, being from a common nursery or from a bonsai nursery. The difference being that trees raised for bonsai take in to consideration the roots and those in the landscape nursery do not care to work on the roots as it is growing. I have seen many nice trees developed from landscape nursery trees but the roots suck so to speak. For instance look at most of the trees styled from landscape nursery stock,,especially mugos, they still have the dreaded nursery mountain roots. They are usually kept in a pot so long that the roots are growing in circles and is hard to get in to check. So most style a nice bonsai but leave the roots unchecked. They set much to high in a pot for my likings.
I see what you are talking about Vance and I praise you for your insight. But if I can spend a little more for stock that has been grown with bonsai in mind I will spend that extra buck. The roots are the heart of the tree!

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

Vance Wood

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I thank all of you for your careful and thought out responses, it's a subject worthy of discussion and clarification. At some point in this debate, because that's what it is for better or worse, I hope to see some people posting some pictures of work done with Yamadore or prebonsai over maybe a two year period, and I'll post a picture of a nursery tree worked over the same amount of time. It is after all part of the debate; which source will yield a decent bonsai the quickest. I would also like to clarify a point; I do not object to collected trees. When I frist started bonsai most of my trees were Yamadori collected from the California mountains, as to cultivated trees I have two. One is beautiful and the other is a dog on a leash. Again it is not the source or the nature of that source it is the choices made from that source.

I think those who are being told that "this" is better than "that" deserve the right to choose for themselves and to have the opportunity to examine the results in pictures and not just the testimony of words. The problem I have with part of this argument is that the "Good Stuff" proponents in thinking they are encouraging the neophytes to obtain better stock are in truth discouraging them into believing that unless they collect or spend big bucks for cultivated stock are just not going to get anywhere, they are wasting their time.

As kind of a side bar I have to chuckle that the same group of growers are quick to let the same neophytes know about trunk chops, growing in the ground, air layering and a host of other interesting and educational techniques that are more suited to less than stellar material. At the same time they are not told how to harvest this material, how to care for it, how long to care for it, and that the care of an old tree is much more tricky than the care for a young tree. Yes; some collected and some prebonsai are better than some nursery trees but the cost of failure is substantially higher and more heart breaking.

My over-all point in all of this is to simply to get people thinking about what they are saying and teaching. There is a proverb out there, the author of which I cannot now remember, that says "What you know is sometimes the enemy of what you want to learn".
 
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grouper52

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Like others here, I also think this is a great post, Vance. I have a few yamadori I bought from Dan Robinson and from Randy and Jason at Oregon Bonsai, but the rest of my trees are about equally divided between pre-bonsai and nursery stock. I'm obviously not partial to any one of these three groups, but I've got to say that the "treasure hunt" aspect of searching for good nursery stock is probably the best part of the hobby for me just in terms of sheer pleasure.

I also think your points about how the nursery stock option is presented to others, especially to newbies, is right on target, as reflected in my rather amateurish tutorial from another site, presented HERE, for your viewing pleasure. It is my opinion that people who are merely hobbiests, and yet who then turn their noses up at this great source of fun and rewarding material, are missing a great deal of enjoyment for some rather questionable reasons.

It will be interesting to see if anyone takes you up on your challenge, and the ensuing competition should be interesting as well. Once again, thanks for this thread, which touches on things near and dear to my heart.

grouper52
 
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"I hope to see some people posting some pictures of work done with Yamadore or prebonsai over maybe a two year period..."

Isn't there several examples of that over at Walters blog? Hans van Meer has one thats called "the elephant" or something like that at karamotto.org.
 

Vance Wood

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"I hope to see some people posting some pictures of work done with Yamadore or prebonsai over maybe a two year period..."

Isn't there several examples of that over at Walters blog? Hans van Meer has one thats called "the elephant" or something like that at karamotto.org.
I suspect that there are some wonderful examples out there from Walter and Hans, and not to leave them out but these two guys could make a wonderful bonsai out of a ham sandwich. Though I doubt that any of the others who have berated nursery material have anything near this level. You also might notice neither Hans or Walter have denigrated nursery material as a source for bonsai.
 

Vance Wood

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Like others here, I also think this is a great post, Vance. I have a few yamadori I bought from Dan Robinson and from Randy and Jason at Oregon Bonsai, but the rest of my trees are about equally divided between pre-bonsai and nursery stock. I'm obviously not partial to any one of these three groups, but I've got to say that the "treasure hunt" aspect of searching for good nursery stock is probably the best part of the hobby for me just in terms of sheer pleasure.

I also think your points about how the nursery stock option is presented to others, especially to newbies, is right on target, as reflected in my rather amateurish tutorial from another site, presented HERE, for your viewing pleasure. It is my opinion that people who are merely hobbiests, and yet who then turn their noses up at this great source of fun and rewarding material, are missing a great deal of enjoyment for some rather questionable reasons.

It will be interesting to see if anyone takes you up on your challenge, and the ensuing competition should be interesting as well. Once again, thanks for this thread, which touches on things near and dear to my heart.

grouper52
I'm glad you get it. For better or worse I suspect, nursery material is the probable future of bonsai for a host of reasons from legal issues to accessibility. When you consider that the majority of my early bonsai were Yamadori, all of which died while I was in the Army in the 60's, most of my trees today are nursery material. This is because I do not have access to the mountains and most stuff sold as Yamadori that I have seen at conventions was not worth the money asked for it, or the time it would take to develop. It simply was not that good to begin with and should have been left in the woods.
 
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Ok, I just thought it answered the question ("which source will yield a decent bonsai the quickest?") and since you've been at this longer than Hans van Meer I don't think the comparison was unfair...

edit:...And I am the first to acknowledge the fact that what I just wrote is at best silly, since regular nursery will yield a decent bonsai as quick (or quicker) than collected trees. But then again, it all comes down to the artist.
 
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Rick Moquin

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I hope to see some people posting some pictures of work done with Yamadore or prebonsai over maybe a two year period, and I'll post a picture of a nursery tree worked over the same amount of time.
Thanks for the clarification and bringing things into perspective Vance. I don't want to sound argumentative here but I believe a little more clarification is required.

When we talk about collected material, the 2 year time frame is this after a suitable recovery period, because as we know some may take up tp 3 years in ICU, or once the recovery period is over and styling begins? I believe the latter is worthy of discussion as once again it plays on the time line, so to speak.

When we compare rare found nursery stock (one that has everything going for it e.g. nebari, trunk taper, movement and branch placement) to yamadori, in most cases the nursery stock with the exception of "age" can begin its bonsai journey sooner (no recovery period). That is why I did not include yamadori in my original response. I further believe that a level playing field needs to be established if we are to draw credible conclusions. e.g. pre-bonsai against nursery stock from the time of acquisition, with a deadline for comaprative purposes lets say 2-3 years down the road.

If yamadori is to be included in this debate, then I believe in order to level the playing field that the timeline for collected material commences only after a suitable recovery period has transpired.

There are many tangibles in this debate and these issues are not a simple thing to address. If we bring age into the discussion, although a bonsai can be made to portrait and old tree, when we come to collected material the exposure to the elements cannot be duplicated in that particular time frame with the other sources of material. IMO it's like experience which, cannot be replaced regardless of the amount of books, articles one reads. In presenting this bold observation, I mean good collected material vice "urbandori". As we know most folks that collect normally will not dig up the first tree they come accross but will search for that rare find, not unlike the "nursery hunter".

I would also like to clarify a point; I do not object to collected trees. When I frist started bonsai most of my trees were Yamadori collected from the California mountains, as to cultivated trees I have two. One is beautiful and the other is a dog on a leash. Again it is not the source or the nature of that source it is the choices made from that source.
... your closing argument in this paragraph is bang on the money. Having said that, it would seem to me that this particular opinion may be skewed and lacks objectivity. Let me explain my interpretation of what has been written.

I believe and correct me if I am wrong that your position is that great bonsai can be developed from nursery stock? I endorse that position 100%. What I fail to comprehend is your insistance that nursery stock will get there quicker, it's just impossible, not when we put a time frame on it. As I discussed previously, bonsais take time, regardless who and where this "time" was spent, from developing nursery stock (pre-bonsai) old collected material, or styling a "rare find" into a credible bonsai. Let me further explain...

This debate IMO contains far too many tangibles to categorise the three choices enthusiasts face. There has been articles written on how to create the illusion of age and maturity. There is no doubt that in the hands of a talented artist this can be accomplished in short fashion, but when we talk of the average enthusiast, this is not the case. Albeit, that a tree may have girth, good taper and reallistic deadwood, it takes years to develop decent bark on a given tree. Artistically the deadwood can be created with "SiDiao Techniques" and not everyone possesses these skills, but mature bark once again takes time, and although techniques to develop mature looking bark are out there, the latter takes time.

I think those who are being told that "this" is better than "that" deserve the right to choose for themselves and to have the opportunity to examine the results in pictures and not just the testimony of words. The problem I have with part of this argument is that the "Good Stuff" proponents in thinking they are encouraging the neophytes to obtain better stock are in truth discouraging them into believing that unless they collect or spend big bucks for cultivated stock are just not going to get anywhere, they are wasting their time.
... and I endorse your position with this argument 100%.

However Vance it seems that when you place a time line on it, that you are "flip flopping". The latter is not intended to offend you as this is indeed a thought provoking debate, but when you contradict yourself in your own debate, the clarity of your position becomes obscure.

As kind of a side bar I have to chuckle that the same group of growers are quick to let the same neophytes know about trunk chops, growing in the ground, air layering and a host of other interesting and educational techniques that are more suited to less than stellar material. At the same time they are not told how to harvest this material, how to care for it, how long to care for it, and that the care of an old tree is much more tricky than the care for a young tree. Yes; some collected and some prebonsai are better than some nursery trees but the cost of failure is substantially higher and more heart breaking.
I believe this whole statement sums up to cost, which although a valid argument seems biased, as your closing sentence seems once again to contradict your position.

My over-all point in all of this is to simply to get people thinking about what they are saying and teaching. There is a proverb out there, the author of which I cannot now remember, that says "What you know is sometimes the enemy of what you want to learn".
In closing this is what I believe this debate is about, and anyone feel free to debate any points I raise, as Vance has said, it is a debate:

Some proponents have stated that the only way to achive a credible bonsai is by the acquisition of yamadori or pre-bonsai material. My position on that avenue as previously mentioned is rubish. Bonsai can be created regardless from which source the material comes from, providing good/great material is selected from either source.

To say that great material acquired from a nursery in comparison to the other two sources will become a credible bonsai sooner. To me this position is more a figment of someones imagination than anything else. There are far too many tangibles involved in making that statement credible. I may not be able to participate in this debate with the "show and tell" portion but will be interested to see the results of those who have chosen to pick up the gauntlet, and to further expand my knowledge with the responses of the members.

As I have mentioned this is an interesting discussion and, one that could be suited for the eristic forum at A of B. IMO I am finding it difficult to follow the obscurity of the discussion. Are we talking styling a tree from nursery stock in comparison with the other two, not unlike your Shimpaku submission, or creating a credible bonsai? Undoubtedly the former can be accomplished in short fashion and just as well if not better (at times), but the latter cannot IMHO. It takes time to create bonsai regardless of where this time is expended, from years of growing in the wild, years of development in the hands of a talented grower, or years expended allowing nursery stock to catch up to the other two.

Now if we talk solely money, which is the cheapest method outside of time and effort in creating a credible bonsai, then by all means nursery stock has the lead. However, folks will indeed have a difficult time of convincing me otherwise, as the other side of the debate encompasses more credible arguments.
 

Rick Moquin

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I'm glad you get it. For better or worse I suspect, nursery material is the probable future of bonsai for a host of reasons from legal issues to accessibility. When you consider that the majority of my early bonsai were Yamadori, all of which died while I was in the Army in the 60's, most of my trees today are nursery material. This is because I do not have access to the mountains and most stuff sold as Yamadori that I have seen at conventions was not worth the money asked for it, or the time it would take to develop. It simply was not that good to begin with and should have been left in the woods.
Yup! that makes a whole lot of sense, and me too.
 
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Ok, I just thought it answered the question ("which source will yield a decent bonsai the quickest?") and since you've been at this longer than Hans van Meer I don't think the comparison was unfair...
The comparison was not unfair, just unrelated as Hans has never been an outspoken critic of nursery stock, nor does he claim that collecting is the only was to develop good bonsai. I believe Vance challenged those outspoken critics of nursery stock to post their own results, not those of others. Vance has said that just because a piece of stock comes from a nursery does not automatically make it sub-standard and he has offered to post his own results to show it.


Will
 
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Ok, so this is about Vance calling out some specific individuals to compare bonsai then, or am I just being thick?
 

agraham

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I'm not sure I qualify as an outspoken critic of bonsai from nursery material.The funny thing is,I don't recall anyone being quite as harsh a critic as Vance would make them out to be.I do stand by my opinion though, that bonsai from GOOD prebonsai stock and/or GOOD collected material is ultimately(assuming like quality skills of the artists) on average,"better" than bonsai from GOOD nursery material.While "acceptable" results may not vary much in terms of a short(2 to 3 years) time frame,the ultimate quality of the results are hardly comparable within a longer time frame. At any rate, I am tempted to take Vance up on his challenge.:D .

But,it is not a fair comparison.There are too many variables to be considered.

Plant species
Climate(length of growing season)
Quality of beginning stock,ie.,....good nursery stock vs. poor prebonsai or the opposite
Personal taste of the "finished" tree

and mostly,

The skill of the artist.

andy
 
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agraham

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Ok, so this is about Vance calling out some specific individuals to compare bonsai then, or am I just being thick?
I think you hit the nail on the head Mr. Not.

andy
 
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Agramham said:
"At any rate, I am tempted to take Vance up on his challenge."

So am I!
 

Vance Wood

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Ok, I just thought it answered the question ("which source will yield a decent bonsai the quickest?") and since you've been at this longer than Hans van Meer I don't think the comparison was unfair...

edit:...And I am the first to acknowledge the fact that what I just wrote is at best silly, since regular nursery will yield a decent bonsai as quick (or quicker) than collected trees. But then again, it all comes down to the artist.
In truth I have been doing bonsai longer than, Hans, Walter, Kimura, Boon, Bill Valvanis, and probably longer than most of the living masters, that does not say much for the amount of time it takes to make a bonsai master, one of which I do not claim to be. These guys have the eye and the talent and a gift, what I have has been acquired over time, it ain't much but I have learned from more mistakes and failures than most people will make and still stick with it. So that is really a moot point. You cannot afford to learn the things I have learned with valuable Yamadori or expensive prebonsai.

I guess what I am complaining about is the rhetoric being founded on second hand information and not first hand experience. You can point your finger at Walter and Hans and Marc and show me their work and you would be right, but you cannot equate their results with what the results will be for someone with lesser skills, like most of the rest of us. I will not argue for a moment that most masterpiece bonsai have been collected from the wild but that does not translate into all collected trees will be masterpieces. It is this impression that is being sold as the only way to get a credible bonsai.

If we look at time lines we must figure in the whole equation. The claim is made that you can make a better bonsai quicker with collected material. The claim is made without disclaimers; the neophyte does not understand or comprehend recovery time. Some intermediate growers don't understand this process. Someone tells them to get collected material they go out and collect something, and they start working on it. It dies, or its ugly, or its inappropriate to bonsai, or it is worse than what they might find at a nursery. Have they accomplished anything of significance? The actual process of collecting a tree is a sub-art in itself.

So if I go out and find a suitable nursery plant and someone else with equal skills goes out and finds a Yamadori I will bet you that ham sandwich I mentioned earlier I will be exhibiting a new bonsai before the Yamadori is beyond the recovery stage. Ten years down the road may be a different story depending on the quality of the Yamadori, but if things are done properly in ten years odds are the Yamadori tree will only have had five years work done on it. In that ten years I will have produced a bonsai of some quality and worth.

So the statement that Yamadori will make a credible bonsai quicker is false. As to the prebonsai, that's a different issue that is more akin to the difference between two types of nursery material if you are honest about it. I do not equate prebonsai as being nursery recovered collected trees. A collected tree is a collected tree regardless of whether someone else has harvested it and subsequently sold it to a third party. This tree may make a bonsai quicker because the recovery issues have been resolved (hopefully, but not always the case) and the tree is ready to be worked on, but not always and often shouldn't have been.

Prebonsai in my way of looking at them are nothing more than specially grown nursery stock with attention to bonsai specific issues. This is the way it works in the realm of the imagination, but not always the case in reality. It often takes as much effort and observation to select a good prebonsai as it does to aquire decent stock from your local friendly neighborhood El Cheapo Nursery. Is one better than the other? Absolutly---the one that is selected for the best qualities as a future bonsai. Being from one source or the other does not preclude or exclude one from the other.
 
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Rick Moquin

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Although I cannot compare nursery stock against the other two in photos (no access), I can offer photos of styled nursery stock that the average neophyte can acquire and carry out.

My biggest proponent of my arguments is that time is a factor regardless of the selected material. This "time" tangible will alwats come into play. When we look at Vances experience as an enthusiast, he has been at it for over fourty years, and that experience plays an extremely important role when acquiring stock, regardless of where the source.

The following pics depict my first ever tree. It was acquired as raw nursery stock in Aug '04. The first year I basically removed the dead foliage and branches and gave it an intial styling via pruning and planted it in the ground before winter. At this point in time I had absolutely no experience in the field with the exception of knowing that the craft existed and tyhat I was always interested in it. Now I'm a bonsaiholic :) The tree was selected because it prersented a certain shape and form from raw stock that kind of looked bonsaiish, remember absolutely no experience in the field here. Chosing a Hinoki of all trees as a first tree is a daunting task to say the least as we all know their growth pattern, there refusal to back bud make 'em difficult candidates as bonsai. Nonetheless, the tree was acquired and now it is being developed. I will never in my life time own a world class tree (unless I buy one) but enjoy the raptures of the journey this chosen field.

The first pic is "as is" in the spring of '05. It was dug up and received its initial styling. It was planted out in a Japanese dry garden. By end of August the wires were starting to bight in and needed to be removed, not an easy task lying on ones belly. The tree remainde unwired for the following 2 years as part of the lanscape. During this time although it presented a beautiful silhouette, it was returning towards a shrub once again and the foliage pads needed readjusting to permit light to access the inner parts of the tree. It was once again dug up this spring thinned out, pruned and styled. It was planted in a shallow grow box and was goign toi return to the "garden" in a box, so I can easily work on the tree when required. However, I was convince that this tree deserved a better faith as it had more potential as a bonsai, vice a landscape tree. The merits of such are not in debate here, but what can be carried out with nursery stock in a short amount of time, which I believe is a good example. The tree is resting on my bench in a shallow box and will be potted out on a slab next spring.
 

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