Showing off - not trees, but big egos

Clicio

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In a traditional bonsai show at the Botanical Garden in Sao Paulo there is this annual contest.
10 to 12 bonsai stylists are given very similar trees, Junipers or pines, to evaluate, chop, prune, wire and repot in 3 hours. Then the judges choose the best work overall and an award is given.
Well, around 50 people, enthusiasts and wannabes, are allowed to watch the performance, where the trees are decapitated, bent, the roots chopped and squeezed into a tiny pot.
Last year, three months after the contest, one of the judges told me that 80% of the little trees "didn't make it " including the winner.
All dead.
If a beginner is eager to learn and is watching this contest, surely he will think this is the right way to have an instant amazing bonsai, and he will kill many trees before he knows any better.
I think these contests, shows, demos and videos on YouTube where the trees are tortured *and the after is never showed* are a GREAT disservice to the bonsai as a whole.
Sorry about the rant.
 

canadianlights

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Yeah, I've heard about stuff like this happening all the time. Bjorn talked about it in his podcast, where he is always asked to do demonstrations and work on trees, but it is just not the right time and the trees can't afford to be worked on.
 

leatherback

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Hm..

It is not the format or the challenge. It is also how this is judged.

I participated in such a contest last year:

1595425113865.png

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Judging explicitly included the health risks taken.

The tree this spring:
1595425191168.png

Not even a single branchlet died.
 

leatherback

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If a beginner is eager to learn and is watching this contest, surely he will think this is the right way to have an instant amazing bonsai, and he will kill many trees before he knows any better.
I think these contests, shows, demos and videos on YouTube where the trees are tortured *and the after is never showed* are a GREAT disservice to the bonsai as a whole.
This I however fully agree with!
 

leatherback

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What about the others?

From my club everybody that ever participated still have their trees. 6 people in the last 3 years. One of them had major branch die.
I really think it is part of the "we judget the work, including how & the health of the tree"
 

penumbra

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I honestly thought this was going to be about bonsai snobs vs bonsai nuts.
Interesting post though and not at all surprising than in some circles whats best for the tree is not relevant. I am a plant person who takes a liking to bonsai so I find this very sad for the plants.
 

bonhe

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In a traditional bonsai show at the Botanical Garden in Sao Paulo there is this annual contest.
10 to 12 bonsai stylists are given very similar trees, Junipers or pines, to evaluate, chop, prune, wire and repot in 3 hours. Then the judges choose the best work overall and an award is given.
Well, around 50 people, enthusiasts and wannabes, are allowed to watch the performance, where the trees are decapitated, bent, the roots chopped and squeezed into a tiny pot.
Last year, three months after the contest, one of the judges told me that 80% of the little trees "didn't make it " including the winner.
All dead.
If a beginner is eager to learn and is watching this contest, surely he will think this is the right way to have an instant amazing bonsai, and he will kill many trees before he knew
You are absolutely right! One of famous masters in Southern California demoed a big beautiful California juniper. The tree looked as a masterpiece after being worked. Then it was transplanted into the bonsai pot to make it look nice for final product and to have it for auction afterwards. The tree died after a few months ! The inexperienced people are not aware of this fact !
Thụ Thoại
 

Forsoothe!

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Yes, OP is right. Not only is the wrong time of year for a given species not considered, but doing roots at the same time the top gets radical work is counter-productive and should never be done, especially with an audience of greenhorns who believe it is the way things are done. Things are changing and (some) workshops are held where participants are told not to do the repotting at the workshop, just the styling. Things, they are a'changin'...
 
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That's really unfortunate. I've never seen a demo (live anyway) where someone repotted the demo tree out of season in addition to the work. That's just terrible practice.

It did used to occur in America, but not so much any more, as far as I know anyway. I've heard about demos back in the day where the tree died though. Maybe people are more careful around here in the Pacific Northwest, or got fed up with demo death.
 

Clicio

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It is not the format or the challenge. It is also how this is judged.
Not even a single branchlet died.

You did a good job, the tree is very nice and I doubt if you would let it die anyway.
The whole point is: for a wannabe it seems simple, and if he/she tries on their own trees, the results will not be the same.
If done in the wrong season... Death.
 

leatherback

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for a wannabe it seems simple, and if he/she tries on their own trees, the results will not be the same.
If done in the wrong season... Death.
Yeah, that is the dificult part of bonsai: Reading the tree, and knowing what it will take at which time of the year!
 
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