Where to Find a Starter Tree?!? (Colorado)

therianthrope

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Hello all,

What suggestions have you for finding a good starter tree? Denver-area specific shops/nurseries would be great, though general thoughts are appreciated :) Something that hasn't been styled, but is old enough to start thinking about styling, and something that is inexpensive, hopefully?

Thanks!
 

mcpesq817

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If you're looking for collected trees, have you considered Andy Smith (based in South Dakota)? He's a very reputable seller, and one of the good guys:

www.goldenarrowbonsai.com
 

therianthrope

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If you're looking for collected trees
Probably not, as I'm guessing there's a premium to be paid for a collected tree, and I'm in the <$40 range... ideally less than 20 >.< Though I realize this may not be realistic for something that's a couple years old.

//Perhaps I should also mention, I'm looking at pines.
 

mc4mc44

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Andy smith really is a good seller. If you watch his site, every now and then he updates it with some inexpensive trees. You might be able to find one in your price range. Its the cost for shipping that makes his trees expensive. I would highly recommend him. As for bonsai sellers that aren't online i cant really help you out. I only know a couple and there all the way out by me in Pennsylvania.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Probably not, as I'm guessing there's a premium to be paid for a collected tree, and I'm in the <$40 range... ideally less than 20 >.< Though I realize this may not be realistic for something that's a couple years old.

//Perhaps I should also mention, I'm looking at pines.

I hope you do get into pines; they are a fascinating subject for bonsai. However, if you're new to bonsai, starting with pines is like taking up snow-shoeing by being dropped off in Antarctica. Continuing the metaphor; starting with $20 pines is like starting with $20 snow shoes.

I bought my first black pine in '98; a full 5 years after I started working with bonsai and killed it within a year. I attempted again in '02 and still struggled for 5 years with the physiological and horticultural responses to bonsai work. In '07 I went whole-hog into pines and it took a full 3 years of studying, practicing, and documenting work, to gain the confidence that I will get predictable results from my work, and I continue studying nuances of candle pruning, needle thinning, timing, etc, nearly every day.

Don't take this to mean you shouldn't buy pines...by all means, do. Just understand that the basic bonsai techniques are MUCH easier to learn on other trees that clearly show the cause-effect of your actions, and aren't as sensitive to timing of these actions.

By contrast, if an elm grows 5 leaves on a shoot, and you cut it back to 2, you can be confident that new growth is going to happen, exactly where it will happen; and timing is not very critical.
 

therianthrope

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I hope you do get into pines; they are a fascinating subject for bonsai. However, if you're new to bonsai, starting with pines is like taking up snow-shoeing by being dropped off in Antarctica. Continuing the metaphor; starting with $20 pines is like starting with $20 snow shoes.

I bought my first black pine in '98; a full 5 years after I started working with bonsai and killed it within a year. I attempted again in '02 and still struggled for 5 years with the physiological and horticultural responses to bonsai work. In '07 I went whole-hog into pines and it took a full 3 years of studying, practicing, and documenting work, to gain the confidence that I will get predictable results from my work, and I continue studying nuances of candle pruning, needle thinning, timing, etc, nearly every day.

Don't take this to mean you shouldn't buy pines...by all means, do. Just understand that the basic bonsai techniques are MUCH easier to learn on other trees that clearly show the cause-effect of your actions, and aren't as sensitive to timing of these actions.

By contrast, if an elm grows 5 leaves on a shoot, and you cut it back to 2, you can be confident that new growth is going to happen, exactly where it will happen; and timing is not very critical.
Thanks for the insight, Brian! Aesthetically, pines are what interest me most and even if it is like jumping in with both feet, I have to start somewhere, this is another good argument though for not starting with a collected stock. Sounds like I have (even more) reading to do! :)
 

JudyB

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How about a compromise, like how about starting with a larch? You can get nice starts of larch at this site, I have been happy with mine. I love larch and it's a good tree to start with if you really don't want a broadleaved deciduous tree. They are also pretty hardy trees, so you won't need some elaborate setup like a greenhouse that you'd need for trops, or some more tender deciduous types. BTW, I love deciduous, been working with them for 5 years or so, and just started to get into pines a couple of years ago. I have other types of evergreens that I've done well with, but pines are a whole new thing. I've actually decided to enlist a teacher, so I can learn what to do with them. Seems like you can learn decid. from books, but to really learn pines, you need input from someone who's been there done that. Anyway, here is a link.
http://store.buybonsai.com/servlet/-strse-OUTDOOR-BONSAI-TREES/Categories
 

bonsaiTOM

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I would not argue with any of Brian's points. Very good. Pines are so rewarding when properly developed, but not an easy study.

If you are serious about reading, and you should, I would suggest the BONSAI TODAY Master' Series book PINES, about $30 from Amazon.

But also consider getting the DVD series on pines from Bonsai Boon, the set or one-at-a-time. Get into a good club and take pine workshops. All this will take some $$ and some time - but well worth both. If you do these things you will also find pine starter trees at decent prices and you'll know what to do with them.
 

therianthrope

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How about a compromise, like how about starting with a larch? You can get nice starts of larch at this site, I have been happy with mine. I love larch and it's a good tree to start with if you really don't want a broadleaved deciduous tree. They are also pretty hardy trees, so you won't need some elaborate setup like a greenhouse that you'd need for trops, or some more tender deciduous types. BTW, I love deciduous, been working with them for 5 years or so, and just started to get into pines a couple of years ago. I have other types of evergreens that I've done well with, but pines are a whole new thing. I've actually decided to enlist a teacher, so I can learn what to do with them. Seems like you can learn decid. from books, but to really learn pines, you need input from someone who's been there done that. Anyway, here is a link.
http://store.buybonsai.com/servlet/-strse-OUTDOOR-BONSAI-TREES/Categories
I do like the larch, and thanks for the link, Judy.
I would not argue with any of Brian's points. Very good. Pines are so rewarding when properly developed, but not an easy study.

If you are serious about reading, and you should, I would suggest the BONSAI TODAY Master' Series book PINES, about $30 from Amazon.

But also consider getting the DVD series on pines from Bonsai Boon, the set or one-at-a-time. Get into a good club and take pine workshops. All this will take some $$ and some time - but well worth both. If you do these things you will also find pine starter trees at decent prices and you'll know what to do with them.
Thanks for the reference material bT, looks like I'll be giving my library card a work-out...
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Also...here is George Muranaka's eBay store. Nothing for $40, but it's about as close as you'll get to the description of your initial request. He is a reputable seller, as many will attest, and packages his trees very well.
 

ryno255

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In the Denver area there's a bonsai nursery as well as a nice nursery called Paulino gardens its off I-25 and 62nd i believe. I'm new to bonsai as well and live in Northern Colorado. This year I've been going to all the nurseries and garden centers I can get to and finding good specimens at reasonable prices. You will kill trees there's no point in buying expensive trees at this point.
 
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If I were you, and dealling with the budget you are looking at, I would search arround at the local nurseries for normal plants that you can make into a bonsai. Another option is one check craig'slist in your location.
Also, I would consider for the time being only plants that do well in you area... so drive around and look at what the neighboors have in their yards and what does well with your weather.

I lived in denver for a while, then we moved out to parker. I remember the junipers being nearly impossible to kill. The ones in our front yard at the time sat under 3 or 4 plus feet of snow all winter, and shrug it off like nothing's happened come spring.

Personally I would suggest you start with these, they are usually pretty easy to be found with somewhat descent trunks within your price range. Besides they are easier to work with than pines, but can be styled in virtually the same way. So when you do move on to pines, the experience will easily transfer over...
Good luck.
 

mrchips1952

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Bonsai in Denver

See Harold Sasaki at Colorado Bonsai on the westside of Denver. He has four greenhouses full of material from collected trees to seed grown. Plan on at least two hours to see everything and Harold has more knowledge than anyone in the Rocky Mountains. I have been a satisfied customer of his for years. None better and that's a fact.
 

therianthrope

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I'm planning on checking out Paulino's this weekend, thanks for the lead, ryno.

s_a_m, craigslist was a good suggestion, that's where I found the free silver maples, I didn't want to do juniper, but I know they are hardy bastards so I might just do that too.

mrchips, I saw Colorado Bonsai early on but frankly I was a little intimidated, will have to check it out once I feel a little more secure with my basic knowledge/terminology/principles, etc.
 

Vance Wood

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Is there something wrong with harvesting interesting material for your self? Colorado is full of good bonsai in waiting.
 

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