Author Topic: Upgrading one's collection  (Read 2835 times)

thuan L.

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Upgrading one's collection
« on: January 21, 2013, 09:20 PM »
So I've been studying the art of bonsai for 5 years now and my question to the more seasoned members is how did you upgrade your collection through the years? I've acquired trees through shows, club demo's, nurseries, digs etc... I'm sure like most people starting out I purchased a ridiculous amount of random trees and took them through 5 years of training. I would say 20-30% of my collection has potential to be show worthy one day. The rest of the 70-80% are gosh we've spent so much time together, it's really not you it's me, your better off with someone else but I still do care for you... lol what can I say I love my trees but need to make room for better one's! Any advice is much appreciated!
 

Adair M

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2013, 10:40 PM »
Maybe you could trade some of your trees with another club member.

Or, trade with the local bonsai shop.  Three or four of yours for one of their nicer ones?

 

Brian Van Fleet

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2013, 11:00 PM »
eBay, club auctions, planting stuff in the ground and donating and newer club members. 

Each year for a while I made a list of the top 10% and bottom 10% of my trees, and culled the bottom 10%, and prepared my top 10% for (local) shows...while also making a goal to always show something new each year.  Now my bottom 10% are still decent trees, or at least not ones I'm eager to get rid of!
 

John Kirby

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2013, 11:37 PM »
Tlam, what do you envision your trees to be like? My trees really started to change when I seriously started studying. A brief bout with Marc Noelanders and the Houston CLub and then going to a regular intense training program. When I saw the club show of the teacher I study with, it gave me a different set of goals for the trees I wanted to work on. I work on trees from seedlings to established trees purchased through many outlets.

 

BonsaiEngineer1493

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 11:57 PM »
I agree with John. I'm trying my best to follow those steps.
 

thuan L.

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2013, 01:53 AM »
Thanks guys, great input!

Adair I've never traded, something about trading kind of scares me lol. I guess I could trade with some of my friends in bonsai class or club members. How would you go about it? I guess I could bring some trees and put a for trade sign if the instructor allows.

Brian that's a wonderful idea and I'm glad you shared that, I guess I'm not the only one that tries to cull out his collection! My problem is I pick up the tree to donate and then put it back down! I've donated a bunch and have planted as many trees in the ground as my wife allows!

John I envision working with 40-50 trees of high caliber as opposed to my current 100-150 random caliber! I do take cuttings and air layers but only if its worth taking, when I first started I propagated EVERYTHING! I'm currently only growing black pine seeds.
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 07:29 AM »
Just keep in mind that 40-50 high caliber trees is a significant commitment, much more so than 150 marginal trees.  If you want to keep specimen trees then you need to figure out how many you can truly care for with the time you have available.  Half of what you say is a substantial undertaking.  Remember, its better to have a few trees that are properly maintained, than a bunch that are given 80% of the attention they need.

IMO one of the best ways to upgrade is to spend some time studying quality bonsai.  Review kokufu books.  Visit shows and fine collections.  Attend workshops/symposiums.  Find a person who will teach you yearly maintenance and help work (or watch) a tree cared for through a full year or more.  Pay attention to quality trees, and understand what makes them good.  Compare and contrast.  

Then, begin looking to slowly acquire quality trees, whether stock or worked up trees.  Don't race to fill a collection of great trees.  You don't want to take on too much.

Visit shows where good vendors have quality material for sale.  Ask a lot of questions.  Visit nurseries and pick wisely.  I suggest that you make a commitment to buying less and spending more.  Go to the show/nursery with a plan to spend your budget on one tree.  Don't be afraid to spend 4 figures on a single tree.  If the tree you find is less than your budget, so be it.  Stick with one tree and choose it wisely.  You will develop a collection you really love.

Don't buy another tree until you are properly caring for the ones you already have.

As for your existing collection, offer trades or sell all but the best.  Get rid of anything that will take away time from the ones you really want to spend time on.  This means you will have to let go stuff with sentimental, but not monetary, value.  Just do it.  Don't look back.  Those trees served a purpose, and they will serve a purpose for their new owners.
 

Judy

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2013, 07:31 AM »
I have done the same thing over the last 2-3 years or so, giving away most of the things that were never going to be good. And instead of buying multiple trees, now I only look for 1 with the same budget.  It has really stepped up the material I'm working with.  Once you see what you can do with fewer better trees, you never miss the masses of marginal material.  (at least I don't)
And working with fewer trees, allows more and better attention to them.
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2013, 07:33 AM »
Where are you located, and what are you interested in?

Do you like conifers or deciduous trees?  Raw stock to develop on your own or something nearer completion for you to refine?

As has been said, club shows and auctions are a great place to start. Regional shows with vendors, as well as conventions happen across the country.

Andy's Burlap Bonanza is coming up. You can snag decent material at a good price if you're quick on the draw and comfortable working with newly collected material.

I've been very impressed with the material I've seen coming from Telperion Farms recently.
 

Adair M

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 07:54 AM »
tlam,

When I first starting "getting into bonsai" years ago, I wanted "one of everything".  I had about 200 trees in pots.

Unfortunately, I found that to be too much to do well.  Too much work, and too many species to study.

So, now, I'm down to about a dozen.

More importantly, I'm specializing.  My primary interest is JBP.  So, I'm concentrating on those.  I'd like to do broom style zelkova, but I find stock really, really hard to find.  Back in the day, I tried growing zelkova from seed.  My results were not good enough to make it worth the effort.

(If  anyone has a source of nice broom zelkova stock, please PM me.)

So, I decided to start Boon's Intensive program.  Boon is known for his JBP work, so it's a perfect fit for me.  And thank you John Kirby for giving me the little nudge I needed to go ahead and start!
 

Chrisl

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 10:40 AM »
Pretty much the same story here.  Started buying a bunch of trees with not much potential, but decided last yr. to only buy quality stock.  So I only bought a few, they are all quite nice to build a nice collection now.  Ebay the rest
 

dre

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 11:31 AM »
i would say that john is giving the best advise when i comes to upgrading your collection. the best bonsai investment i spent is on regular bonsai training with a one master and i do workshops with other masters when the chance arises. that will change not only your collection it will also make you look at bonsai differently from a technical point of view
 

thuan L.

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 01:07 PM »
Don thanks for the input, your right 40-50 high caliber trees would be quite time consuming! Perhaps I can aim for 20-30 high caliber and 20-30 I don't have to spend too much time on but are still nice!

Judy I started doing that but you've just confirmed that I'm not the only one thanks!

Matsu I'm located in Southern California 20 mins from LA. Where is Andy's Burlap Bonanza and if it's in another state how would I get the trees back to Cali as it's quite difficult I heard.

Adair, Chris, and Dre thanks I agree quality education is important! I do study with Leila Kusumi and Mel Ikeda on Wed. nights and Roy Nagatoshi on Sat. I would like to take Boons intensive but having 3 young children makes it difficult to travel right now.

Great input guys, I'm getting a real clear idea of my ultimate goal.
 

Chrisl

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MatsuBonsai

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Re: Upgrading one's collection
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 06:40 PM »
Any reputable dealer should be able to acquire the necessary paperwork, or willing to admit that they don't ship to CA.  Not sure if Andy does or not.

Brent is in CA and often has quality stock of varying species for sale.

The Shimons of Mendocino Coast have some nice collected material.

You just missed BIB, which always has a nice vendor area.

With the wealth of clubs in the area surely you can find some more local resources?  (sorry about calling you Shirley)