When is a bonsai "junk"?

Bonsai Nut

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Starting a new thread to discuss this subject.

On one hand, there are people who feel that we are doing a disservice to people by calling Home Depot stock and mallsai "nice trees". Most have critical issues that will prevent them from ever being nice trees, or at least, the time and effort would yield better results with different starting material.

On the other hand are the people who feel that ANY tree has the potential to be a decent bonsai - no matter how poor the starting material is. Therefore, they focus on guiding the tree forward - not in being critical to the extent of telling someone to toss the tree.

Which is the healthier path to take for the purpose of growing interest in bonsai in your home market?
 

Ross

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Starting a new thread to discuss this subject.

On one hand, there are people who feel that we are doing a disservice to people by calling Home Depot stock and mallsai "nice trees". Most have critical issues that will prevent them from ever being nice trees, or at least, the time and effort would yield better results with different starting material.

On the other hand are the people who feel that ANY tree has the potential to be a decent bonsai - no matter how poor the starting material is. Therefore, they focus on guiding the tree forward - not in being critical to the extent of telling someone to toss the tree.

Which is the healthier path to take for the purpose of growing interest in bonsai in your home market?

The former option is the best for that purpose. Competition = Better Trees and Better Trees = Greater Interest.
 
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Starting a new thread to discuss this subject.

On one hand, there are people who feel that we are doing a disservice to people by calling Home Depot stock and mallsai "nice trees". Most have critical issues that will prevent them from ever being nice trees, or at least, the time and effort would yield better results with different starting material.

On the other hand are the people who feel that ANY tree has the potential to be a decent bonsai - no matter how poor the starting material is. Therefore, they focus on guiding the tree forward - not in being critical to the extent of telling someone to toss the tree.

Which is the healthier path to take for the purpose of growing interest in bonsai in your home market?

I don't believe that any tree can become a bonsai...and yet everyone starts somewhere. So when I suggest that they learn to procure better stock, what is the best method of doing that? Do I explain gently but firmly the flaws and give them again and again, links to articles on what to look for when finding material for bonsai? Or give them a curt, "Put it in the ground for ten years?" Problem is, if they had the resources to know how to grow it out properly in the first place, they'd have known it was bad material to begin with.

Chris
 

pauldogx

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I don't believe that any tree can become a bonsai...and yet everyone starts somewhere. So when I suggest that they learn to procure better stock, what is the best method of doing that? Do I explain gently but firmly the flaws and give them again and again, links to articles on what to look for when finding material for bonsai? Or give them a curt, "Put it in the ground for ten years?" Problem is, if they had the resources to know how to grow it out properly in the first place, they'd have known it was bad material to begin with.

Chris

I dont think the "put it in the ground" reply works either. I think it is best for those who are experienced to tell beginning folks that it is bad material and to point out WHY it is bad material. This will help them along. Giving them examples of why a tree is good material would help as well.

I think it would be a good idea , at the club level, to have a night devoted to this topic(with examples of good and bad stock) as I think this is an area all beginners, including myself, struggle with.
 
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I dont think the "put it in the ground" reply works either. I think it is best for those who are experienced to tell beginning folks that it is bad material and to point out WHY it is bad material. This will help them along. Giving them examples of why a tree is good material would help as well.

I think it would be a good idea , at the club level, to have a night devoted to this topic(with examples of good and bad stock) as I think this is an area all beginners, including myself, struggle with.

I would agree with you if the club in question had the ability to distinguish good from bad stock and tell someone when they are getting bad stock. When I was a vendor, the club pushed folks to buy nursery stock (much of it very bad and overpriced) while murmuring behind my back about the quality of what I was selling. They wonder why I quit that sideline.

Chris
 

pauldogx

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I would agree with you if the club in question had the ability to distinguish good from bad stock and tell someone when they are getting bad stock. When I was a vendor, the club pushed folks to buy nursery stock (much of it very bad and overpriced) while murmuring behind my back about the quality of what I was selling. They wonder why I quit that sideline.

Chris

This is kind of what I was refering to on another thread about 5$ Lowes stock. Is anybody really learning anything working on material of this caliber??? I think it leads to more frustration and disinterest.

Can you find good stock at a regular nursery??? Sure---but it's not likely.

I think urban yamadori is a source we overlook too often as well.
 

irene_b

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I think it comes down to training the eye on what is good and bad stock.
 

meushi

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Yeah urban yamadori is very nice, sample urban yamadori from this year:

Euonymus_Alatus-Future-trunk.jpg

6ft+ tall Euonymus Alatus that will get chopped back to 1ft this fall. The root system only went 3" deep, so I could actually have planted it straight into a bonsai pot. This picture is just after I lifted it from the ground, with ugly guy wires to anchor it into the growing box. I didn't cut anything on top and it is now trying to escape from the growing box ;) The green bit is what I will keep.
 
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Yeah urban yamadori is very nice, sample urban yamadori from this year:

View attachment 6399

6ft+ tall Euonymus Alatus that will get chopped back to 1ft this fall. The root system only went 3" deep, so I could actually have planted it straight into a bonsai pot. This picture is just after I lifted it from the ground, with ugly guy wires to anchor it into the growing box. I didn't cut anything on top and it is now trying to escape from the growing box ;) The green bit is what I will keep.

Nice tree! But people rarely collect yamadori that turn out to be "sticks in pots." They are invariably poorly chosen nursery stock. This is one of the things that bothers me about promoting nursery stock so much, especially for beginners. Unless they get some solid teaching with firm discussion of what makes a good bonsai, they end up with a yard full of junk.

Chris
 

pauldogx

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Yeah urban yamadori is very nice, sample urban yamadori from this year:

View attachment 6399

6ft+ tall Euonymus Alatus that will get chopped back to 1ft this fall. The root system only went 3" deep, so I could actually have planted it straight into a bonsai pot. This picture is just after I lifted it from the ground, with ugly guy wires to anchor it into the growing box. I didn't cut anything on top and it is now trying to escape from the growing box ;) The green bit is what I will keep.

Cool tree!! I like Euonymus. I have one I chopped recently as well. Check out Walter Pall's blog for a monster Euonymus that he did as a demo in Harrisburg. It was dug from a hedge as well!!!
 

meushi

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Unless they get some solid teaching with firm discussion of what makes a good bonsai, they end up with a yard full of junk.

Yeah, ironically most of collection croaking after the move was a good thing... it allowed me to start from scratch with better trees. I still have sticks in pots, but those are mainly for horticulture experiments, mame or very long term projects.

The problem is that you can't enlighten newbies with a firm discussion, but it can prod them in the good direction. It doesn't stop me trying on some forums tho ;)
 

Walter Pall

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Hey meushi,

over the past weekend I was very close to you in Saarwellingen. There I held one of my seminars 'detecting potential in material'. It is about teaching novices to very advanced folks how to find something when they don't see it. You missed something.
 

greerhw

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I was raised in an era, when there was no "politically correct" You call a spade a spade, we either made the little league team or not and the winning team got the trophy, now I may have been scarred for life , but it taught me some lessons I've lived by all my life. Why in the world would you want to sugar coat a stick, doesn't compute in my head. Your just leading someone down the wrong path. After said stick dies, and it will. They're gone anyway. Tell them up front and maybe they'll buy something with a little potential and save them a couple years of their lives nursing a stick. Now on the other hand if my wife ask me, does this dress make me look fat, they don't make a dress that makes a big butt look little, I cave, mainly because I can't cook. I do try to stay out of those stick posts, because someone will jump my case for being rude. Newbies, do yourself a favor and if you've bought a half dead anything in the back corner of Home Depot, for god's sake DON"T post a picture of it for suggestions...........

Ciao,
Harry

PS: I grew up 2 blocks from a pool hall , owned and operated buy an old English guy name Fred, Fred was kool, he would let us older kids play pool and if we saw a suit come in the front door, we had to hightail it out the back, because it was probably a cop. Generally at that time it was full of delivery men, bread, milk, postmen,etc. They would take your lunch money without a seconds hesitation. I paid my dues playing golf on a snooker table using pool balls, 50 cents a game and a dime a hicky, now this won't mean a thing to those of you under 55, but it wasn't long before I started winning my money back, just another of life's lessons from growing up in the fabulous 50's. My all time favorite movie is "The christmas Story"
 
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meushi

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Hey meushi,

over the past weekend I was very close to you in Saarwellingen. There I held one of my seminars 'detecting potential in material'. It is about teaching novices to very advanced folks how to find something when they don't see it. You missed something.

Yes, I know... I heard of it a few hours after the event and I am still kicking myself where it hurts over that. My friend Thierry thought I was coming and thus didn't discuss the event with me at the club meeting. However, guessing that it was in German, being present would have meant kicking myself where it hurts over not knowing enough German to understand what you were talking about ;)
 

Walter Pall

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Too bad it did not happen. Anyway, the reason I mention this here is that I have invented this kind of setup for exactly the reasons that are discussed here. We teach all sorts of things but not how to select material. Then students come to a 100-$-workshop with a 20-$ stick in a pot because it was not taught how to find the right material.
And then I had this doctor with a big Cadillac, a 3,000-bucks digital camera hanging around his neck and he brings this most pathetic thing and tells us proudly 'this cost nothing, I rescued it from my neighbor who wanted to throw it away.' I say then 'oh I see, bonsai is all about rescuing plants'.
 

shohin kid

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I used to think that "home-depot" plants were good, but I am not a beginner anymore. This weekend I planted about 5 trees in my yard that I thought could be good bonsai when I was a beginner. I realized the work and time they would take, which is why I put them in my yard. However, I do think seedlings are worth the time. If one has ten years to spend, something nice could come out of a seedling. Think of it like this. A small seedling is like a blank canvas, you can do almost anything to it. A "home-depot" tree has already grown wild and the material is likely no good. The seedling can be wired and/or grown any way one wants. If a person knows what they are doing, a seedling could become a nice bonsai tree. Being a person who used to have "home-depot" trees, I wish I would have realized and learned that good material is worth the extra money. That is my view on things.
Shohin Kid
 

greerhw

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I used to think that "home-depot" plants were good, but I am not a beginner anymore. This weekend I planted about 5 trees in my yard that I thought could be good bonsai when I was a beginner. I realized the work and time they would take, which is why I put them in my yard. However, I do think seedlings are worth the time. If one has ten years to spend, something nice could come out of a seedling. Think of it like this. A small seedling is like a blank canvas, you can do almost anything to it. A "home-depot" tree has already grown wild and the material is likely no good. The seedling can be wired and/or grown any way one wants. If a person knows what they are doing, a seedling could become a nice bonsai tree. Being a person who used to have "home-depot" trees, I wish I would have realized and learned that good material is worth the extra money. That is my view on things.
Shohin Kid


Dead on young man, that's what this post is about...................:cool:

Ciao,
Harry
 

TheSteve

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I think the problem may not be so much that we can't tell them how it is but that they can't take it. I grew up in the 80's not the 50's but we still only had one winner and there was no crying at the end because you would never live it down and you grew up knowing you had to work for a living etc. But for what ever reason, and this doesn't just apply to newbies, some people refuse criticism. So you tell them their tree sucks and they either ignore you because they think you're wrong or they go to a different forum until somebody finally says what they want to hear.
 

HotAction

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I got into this bonsai thing last June/July with some maple seedlings that came out of my dad's gutters. That first summer, I enjoyed tending to my small trees. Some are still alive and sitting under/next to the bench. The material that I am working on this year is significantly different. I can't imagine trying to fiddle with such small, bad stock all the time. Once you get a taste for what having/creating a bonsai is like, I don't see much extra time for working on junk. Why bother, when good material is out there.

-Dave
 

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