What would you tell yourself when you were younger? (in relation to bonsai) + Book recommendations

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#42
Also, as a recent ex-student perspective: do make use of cheap Ebay sellers from China. Local stores will charge you 50 bucks for a batch of high quality seeds. Ebay sellers eill charge you threefiddy for the same amount of medium quality seeds. Once they're germinated, that seed quality doesn't matter anymore and you'll have 46,50 left to spend on beers.
Right now I have 75 japanese red pines for less than 5 dollars.

Do trade with everyone, as much as possible. You'll meet new people, new sources and sometimes very hard to obtain species. Thanks to that, I'm the first on the 'to call' list of my local nursery. I get to go through plants before they're in stores.

Make good use of craigslist or whatever people use to offer free "dig it up and it's yours" kind of offers. And have the guts to ring a doorbell to ask for cuttings. Most people don't mind at all and just ask a picture in return. I'm still having trouble with that.
 

rockm

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#44
GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE and talk to actual bonsai people. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. Get off the 'net, stop watching all those "bonsai" videos made mostly by idiots and incompetents.

Attend club meetings, get to know members, ask members if they need help with repotting, etc., then actually help them. While you're doing that watch and learn. Get your hands dirty doing actual bonsai. Don't be so thinned skinned, be open to suggestions, instruction and advice. Take that information for what it is, if you don't like it. Don't assume you know stuff if you haven't actually done it.
 

rockm

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#47
you wish you had told this to yourself 40 years ago? :p
Forty years ago I was 12...I was probably more interested in not failing seventh grade and the girl in the desk in front of me. Hadn't even heard of bonsai then.

I've been doing bonsai since 1990 or so, mostly pre-Internet. What I posted is what I'm telling beginners NOW.

Since everyone has gone online, I've been struck by the regression bonsai has faced. This is especially the case in the last five years, as Internet "bonsai masters" post crap and people eat it up. Back in the day (I know--eye roll), we had to do actual in-person legwork to get resources, knowledge and experience. I don't see enough of that nowadays. More than a few people tend to believe that if they've seen a video of something online, that it equals an actual physical experience. It's a concerning path that has no basis in reality.

Nothing replaces hands-on, actual experience, period.
 
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#48
was just teasing of course :)

i do have a question for you now though:

Since everyone has gone online, I've been struck by the regression bonsai has faced.
Could it be that what appears like a 'regression' in bonsai is simply due to the fact that what you are witnessing most is the internet, and this internet gives equal opportunity to beginners and experts, knowledgeable and less-knowledgeable people to share their work and ideas?

Has there really been a regression in bonsai, or are you (and @Bananaman) simply looking in the wrong place for the highest concentration of experts and serious learners?

You say that back in 1990 the experts and serious learners did the in-person legwork, and your assumption is that they should be doing the same today -- they probably are? The Montreal Bonsai club keeps growing... and the level of trees at Nationals keeps getting better...
 

coh

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#49
was just teasing of course :)

i do have a question for you now though:



Could it be that what appears like a 'regression' in bonsai is simply due to the fact that what you are witnessing most is the internet, and this internet gives equal opportunity to beginners and experts, knowledgeable and less-knowledgeable people to share their work and ideas?

Has there really been a regression in bonsai, or are you (and @Bananaman) simply looking in the wrong place for the highest concentration of experts and serious learners?

You say that back in 1990 the experts and serious learners did the in-person legwork, and your assumption is that they should be doing the same today -- they probably are? The Montreal Bonsai club keeps growing... and the level of trees at Nationals keeps getting better...
My reference for this is the National Exhibition. The quality of the trees at the National Exhibition gets better every show (everyone was saying that after the most recent one). So, I would say that overall bonsai is not regressing at all - in fact, it is improving rapidly especially at the higher levels.

What the internet has done is given everyone a platform so now you also see all the lower level stuff that wasn't visible before. Plus there seem to be some societal changes at play, the "everyone gets a trophy" syndrome where people think they can throw any piece of crap into a bonsai pot and call it art.
 

Nybonsai12

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#50
I would tell myself to start more things from seed and put them in the ground.
 

rockm

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#51
was just teasing of course :)

i do have a question for you now though:



Could it be that what appears like a 'regression' in bonsai is simply due to the fact that what you are witnessing most is the internet, and this internet gives equal opportunity to beginners and experts, knowledgeable and less-knowledgeable people to share their work and ideas?

Has there really been a regression in bonsai, or are you (and @Bananaman) simply looking in the wrong place for the highest concentration of experts and serious learners?

You say that back in 1990 the experts and serious learners did the in-person legwork, and your assumption is that they should be doing the same today -- they probably are? The Montreal Bonsai club keeps growing... and the level of trees at Nationals keeps getting better...
You are conflating two very different things. Clubs are not sponsoring trees at shows. Individual owners do that. There is a big contingent of those owners who don't belong to clubs and aren't teaching anyone anything. I also don't think entry level bonsaiists are going to travel 400 miles to a show...Local Club membership in general has ebbed and flowed over the years, but I'd bet if you asked leadership about whether they're getting a big influx of new members nowadays, you'd get laughed at.

The vast majority of beginners is online. That isn't going to change. You want to talk to the most beginners or intermediate bonsai people? This is the place.

Sounds like I'm a "get off my lawn" codger, but study after study has shown the "hive mind" is crippling critical thinking and shoe leather learning.

The PROBLEM with the Internet is that it flattens out the beginner/intermediate/knowledgeable. All of the knowledge/work in that continuum is NOT EQUAL.

And FWIW, there has always been a contingent of excellent to spectacular bonsai in the U.S. That show has only made it possible to see them all in one place at one time. Think all those trees just developed in the last five years?
 
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#52
My advice is to use your eyes and watch what happens when you apply certain techniques at certain times - many times you are your best teacher. Take pictures and / or notes to remind you of what and when you did it. Plant stuff now to ground grow - it's as rewarding as 'doing' bonsai and the ones you took from a cutting to a nice tree in a pot usually mean more than the one you dropped a few hundred dollars on. Practice wiring til your fingers bleed - this will really help you to make a quality product more quickly.
 
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coh

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#53
And FWIW, there has always been a contingent of excellent to spectacular bonsai in the U.S. That show has only made it possible to see them all in one place at one time. Think all those trees just developed in the last five years?
Yes, they've all been developed in the last 5 years (except the National Shows have been going on since 2008, so that's 10 years) :rolleyes:

You must be a blast at parties.
 

rockm

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#54
Yes, they've all been developed in the last 5 years (except the National Shows have been going on since 2008, so that's 10 years) :rolleyes:

You must be a blast at parties.
You should hear me when I've been drinking :eek:o_O;).

What I'm saying is that that caliber of tree takes a long time to make--even ten years. There have been efforts to do "big" shows in the U.S. for years, like the last 25-30. That means there have been some pretty decent trees in the U.S. for a very long time --including--GASP--before the Internet.

Logistically, however, that show was always elusive because of distances/care. The net has made it easier to conquer those logistical hurdles, but as far as making those really good trees better, the net and exhibitions have helped. However, those higher end trees are an extremely small piece of bonsai. For the vast majority of people and trees just starting out, the net is a bad place to look for good information, especially compared to the hands-on experience available in clubs.

The question was what would I say then if I knew what I know now--I answered "Get out and meet people in person, the crap you're watching online is most likely bad for you and your trees." For some reason, exception has been taken to that--which is part of my point. We can argue about whether the Internet has made things worse---and it's probably likely, look what it's done to public discourse in general-- or about the value of actually DOING bonsai.
 
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#55
Forty years ago I was 12...I was probably more interested in not failing seventh grade and the girl in the desk in front of me. Hadn't even heard of bonsai then.

I've been doing bonsai since 1990 or so, mostly pre-Internet. What I posted is what I'm telling beginners NOW.

Since everyone has gone online, I've been struck by the regression bonsai has faced. This is especially the case in the last five years, as Internet "bonsai masters" post crap and people eat it up. Back in the day (I know--eye roll), we had to do actual in-person legwork to get resources, knowledge and experience. I don't see enough of that nowadays. More than a few people tend to believe that if they've seen a video of something online, that it equals an actual physical experience. It's a concerning path that has no basis in reality.

Nothing replaces hands-on, actual experience, period.
In this respect I got a leg up on other rookie bonsai. I get started in bonsai much later in life but having done lots of stuff, I've got no fear. I study, figure out the science and the method, then I'll attempt things multiple times until I get it right
Forty years ago I was 12...I was probably more interested in not failing seventh grade and the girl in the desk in front of me. Hadn't even heard of bonsai then.

I've been doing bonsai since 1990 or so, mostly pre-Internet. What I posted is what I'm telling beginners NOW.

Since everyone has gone online, I've been struck by the regression bonsai has faced. This is especially the case in the last five years, as Internet "bonsai masters" post crap and people eat it up. Back in the day (I know--eye roll), we had to do actual in-person legwork to get resources, knowledge and experience. I don't see enough of that nowadays. More than a few people tend to believe that if they've seen a video of something online, that it equals an actual physical experience. It's a concerning path that has no basis in reality.

Nothing replaces hands-on, actual experience, period.
Hmmm.... forty years ago I just got out of a war and was running a fishing boat. I doubt that I would have been much interested in bonsai. However 30 years ago, I had an invitation to get into bonsai and declined. That person has passed away. I wish I had taken that invitation. Still, here and now, bonsai is good even if it means playing with crappy, "unworthy" bonsai. Well... let's just say that right now I'm playing with potted plants.
 

Adair M

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#56
You should hear me when I've been drinking :eek:o_O;).

What I'm saying is that that caliber of tree takes a long time to make--even ten years. There have been efforts to do "big" shows in the U.S. for years, like the last 25-30. That means there have been some pretty decent trees in the U.S. for a very long time --including--GASP--before the Internet.

Logistically, however, that show was always elusive because of distances/care. The net has made it easier to conquer those logistical hurdles, but as far as making those really good trees better, the net and exhibitions have helped. However, those higher end trees are an extremely small piece of bonsai. For the vast majority of people and trees just starting out, the net is a bad place to look for good information, especially compared to the hands-on experience available in clubs.

The question was what would I say then if I knew what I know now--I answered "Get out and meet people in person, the crap you're watching online is most likely bad for you and your trees." For some reason, exception has been taken to that--which is part of my point. We can argue about whether the Internet has made things worse---and it's probably likely, look what it's done to public discourse in general-- or about the value of actually DOING bonsai.
Well... it depends. Lol!!!

There are a bunch of people in my local club who have been doing bonsai for a very long time. But unfortunately, they’re no better now than they were when they started!

And the Internet: there’s both great information, and horrible mis-information on it. How’s a beginner to know?

This is the challenge for any beginner. How to learn. Just because someone makes a zillion YouTube videos does not necessarily mean they know how to make good bonsai.
 
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#57
It’s all about the trees. Nothing establishes a pecking order faster than posting your best work. Anyone thinking watching Ryan’s videos has turned himself into a pro, post them up and I’ll tell you where you fit in.

Threads like this crack me up because bonsai is such a moving target. I know what I was working with when I was raising my family, and I know what I started working with when I wasn’t forking out money for school lunch and twice a year school clothes.

Of course then there are the ones that want to put stuff in the ground for the future. Of course they have no idea how to get it there and even if they plant twenty plants will be lucky if even one is worthy of your skills twenty years from now.

For about 15 years our club would purchase about a hundred junipers. We would wire them and plant them into plastic bonsai pots. We did this every year to raise money for the club. That’s how you learn how to wire. Wiring two or three plants a year is a tough way to learn.

There are not many here any more that know me personally. Some do, even Greg. I have taken many club members under my wing and helped them when a club was too intimidating. Once they had more confidence they came back to the club. Some don’t. Like here. The learning curve is steep. Many think if you watch a few videos you have it. Thinking that is a free ticket to come here and talk smack to the forum. I will come here behind my screen name and wag that tail of that big dog and show him just how rude he is.

Again, it’s all about the trees. Post yours and I’ll post mine and then we can compare notes. The civility of the thread will totally rest with that which clearly thinks he knows, but really doesn’t.

I only posted here cause I was minding my own business but was mentioned in a post. I’m not to sure where I stand in that mention.... I think I was the bad guy😜
 
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#58
Well... it depends. Lol!!!

There are a bunch of people in my local club who have been doing bonsai for a very long time. But unfortunately, they’re no better now than they were when they started!

And the Internet: there’s both great information, and horrible mis-information on it. How’s a beginner to know?

This is the challenge for any beginner. How to learn. Just because someone makes a zillion YouTube videos does not necessarily mean they know how to make good bonsai.
Actually it is pretty easy nowadays. Any beginner who can think critically can very quickly verify the majority of statements people make. If the beginner has some basic biology knowledge, it gets even easier. Take myself as an example, I got started only 3 months ago. Since then I've watched tons and tons of video, read pages and pages of instructions by bonsai vendors, by famous bonsai people. It doesn't take long for me to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, most particularly with people who can write good posts, make good looking videos but their trees fail to match their level of talk.

At least I now am at the level where I know that I don't know and can spot people that also don't know. That's a start. :)
 
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#59
Actually it is pretty easy nowadays. Any beginner who can think critically can very quickly verify the majority of statements people make. If the beginner has some basic biology knowledge, it gets even easier. Take myself as an example, I got started only 3 months ago. Since then I've watched tons and tons of video, read pages and pages of instructions by bonsai vendors, by famous bonsai people. It doesn't take long for me to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, most particularly with people who can write good posts, make good looking videos but their trees fail to match their level of talk.

At least I now am at the level where I know that I don't know and can spot people that also don't know. That's a start. :)
But bonsai is not about telling who’s who on a discussion forum. It’s about the trees. What can you and have you done to improve that. Work the trees all the other crap will fall into place on its own
 
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#60
But bonsai is not about telling who’s who on a discussion forum. It’s about the trees. What can you and have you done to improve that. Work the trees all the other crap will fall into place on its own
"people who can write good posts, make good looking videos but their trees fail to match their level of talk."
There's my post. When people don't have trees matching their level of talk, I take their advice with a grain of salt.
PS: That means my posts don't mean poop. That's OK with me. I don't have any tree worth any thing. So it's all BS from me. I can BS with the best of them hehehe.
 

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