Author Topic: You get what you pay for....True?  (Read 7728 times)

Jay

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You get what you pay for....True?
« on: October 09, 2011, 06:35 AM »
Good Morning! I'm up far to early this Sunday morning. I thought it time to start the discussion of Bonsai material purchase.
I am of the belief that you DO in fact get what you pay for. This of course is a generalization and like all generalizations has exceptions. But, on the whole I think it is true.
There is a reason when you go to a Bonsai nursery that one tree is priced higher than another. The amount of time invested in the tree and the point of development of the particular tree is part of the price. A $50 tree is not the same as a $250 tree.
Trees obtained from garden centers, home centers and big box stores are reasonable in price but are less likely to be of worth than those found in Bonsai shops or from other individuals who practice the art.
The thought that I'm just learning, I don't need good material, never holds water. You learn more with good material than you do with trees that ate unlikely to ever be showable in your lifetime.
When collecting trees from the wild, you need to come home with something...wrong. A tree from the wild needs to meet certain targets as much as one purchased for cash. Just because you are there and the tree is there is not enough of a reason to dig it up and take it home.

Disclaimer..... I know from my experience. I've tried the 'inexpensive' way and have several trees that I regret buying even at the low low price I paid. I have collected many many trees that I should not have. At one point I had nearly 100 trees, most of which where useless. I now have around 25 or which I don't know why I bothered with half of them.
I have been practicing Bonsai for 11 years and realize that my artistic talent is not up to the level of many others but my appreciation for Bonsai is up with the best.

These are my thoughts, you may or may not feel the same way but let us discuss it!

Jay
 

Mitch Thomas

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 10:26 AM »
Good morning Jay
Fellow insomniac / treehugger

I too felt much the same as you. I have been I to container plants for more than 20 yrs. Last 10 yrs of Bonsai. Much like you I had a vast collection of plants, with a few bonsai mixed in. Many get of us collect so many plants they become intrapped by them this leads to resentment and often they quit alltogether. That's what happened here after hurricane Katrinia wiped out many of our collections. I lost my home and all of my trees ( way over 100 plants/ bonsai ) except for my buttonwoods and cypress.

That's when I decided to re evaluate what I wanted from bonsai. I tought 25 above average tree woud be a maintainable amount. Out of the 25 I want to have 10 show trees. Now  right at 7 yrs later my goal is comming into trueition. Bonsai is fun again at this scale.

That's where I'm at now.

Mitch
 

Jay

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 10:35 AM »
Mitch, I agree with you. 25 seems to be a number that is manageable. Obviously different people will have different views of what is a manageable number but 25 seems to work for me. Although I am trying to do a little more reduction in number.
 

mcpesq817

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 11:35 AM »
I'm actually in the same boat, though I've only been doing this for 3 years now.  I don't think the crappy stock I picked up in the past was a total loss though, as I got to see what worked in my area and practice various techniques.  But I agree that you learn a ton more from better stock than you would from less desirable stock.

I've been slowly thinning my collection, and think that ultimately getting down to 25-35 trees is a good size for me.
 

Jay

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 01:10 PM »
Well it is not just better to learn on 'better' material but if you are older (like I will admit to being) you just don't have the time to practice thread grafting for example on a throw away tree and then when you get it down do it on a better tree. I hope to be around a long time....but.... I ain't getting younger!  Another good reason to limit the amount of trees in your collection.

J
 

rockm

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2011, 01:29 PM »
Getting what you pay for is a very relative thing in bonsai. Paying $100 for a tree doesn't make the tree worth $100. Thing is, you just don't know WHAT you're paying for when you first start out (and sometimes for decades if you get stuck in a rut and never see really good material or bonsai). I once paid $150 for a garden center bonsai ficus that I thought was simply fantastic when I got it. Twenty years down the road, for almost that same money, I bought a collected 100 year old ponderosa pine that is light years ahead of that damn ficus...Live and learn...

There is no experience like experience  ;D...Hindsight is always 20/20 and you can't convince newbies that buying cheap material isn't a good way to get good bonsai ;D.
 

John Kirby

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2011, 03:30 PM »
Amen Brother Rock.
 

Jay

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 04:04 PM »
Rockm.... VERY well said. The more you know the more you realize you don't know as much as you think. It takes a bit of time to find out what GOOD is. And at times we (or at least I) get taken in by this or that tree that is calling to me, only to see it later as somewhat less than it is....................

J
 

John Kirby

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2011, 04:50 PM »
Just remember this, nebari and trunks make bonsai (Junipers slightly different) but Foliage sells!
 

Chrisl

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2011, 08:17 PM »
So true Rockm.  I've got some decent material that I've gathered over the years, but when I finally bought a 150y/o Ponderosa pine this year for say, 4X the most I ever paid for a tree.  And though I can't touch it for 2 yrs., it's quickly become the pride of my collection.   It's strange to get attached to a tree so fast, I really like it ;)  As is, it's better than most everything I own in it's own way.

But, from now on, my buying habits are going to be MUCH higher in regard to new material ;D

And, to make it worse, I'm now kicking myself in the rear for not anteing up the cash for a collected RMJ ;D  (Andy had some nice ones at the Midwest show too.)   
 

Zach Smith

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2011, 08:53 PM »
Just remember this, nebari and trunks make bonsai (Junipers slightly different) but Foliage sells!
Foliage means ramification, right?  I find that in the wild, great ramification often masks a poor trunk.  But it sure looks great as you drive by on the highway.

Zach
 

John Kirby

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2011, 09:20 PM »
Ramification? Not necessarily so, but lots of leaves yes.
 

Elliott

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 11:31 PM »
I have also noticed that its hard to convinse newbies to shell out some $ for decent raw material. Especialy in an area like California where its relatively easy to find quality material. I have spent as much as 3 grand for what was not more than a trunk... but what a trunk!! it was the best of its kind I have ever seen or even have seen pics of.
 Whats also important is to develope a good eye. Something can cost alot simply because thats what they feel like asking. I have seen many people base the price on material on what something similar sells for at a bonsai nursery.
 If your new, get some good pics of it or take an experienced club memeber with you to get there opinion. Don't be afraid to pay a little for a good piece of material. That tree will hopefully be around alot longer than the initial sting of putting out a little cash.
 I guess it depends on how much you are into this hobbie. I have been late on car payments and lived on wonder bread PB and j sandwiches till the next paycheck cause I saw a tree I just had to have.
 Also, many people will let you put a deposit down and pay it off. The 3 thousand dollar tree took me a few months to pay off and i was even aloud to pik it up, take to class and then return it. However, the first time you screw someone over, will be the last time anyone deals with you. Bonsai is a smaller world than it seems.
 If you dont mind collecting some acorns, planting them and having something to put in a show 35 years later, than more power to you
 
 

akeppler

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2011, 01:24 AM »
If a person is not creative, can't work well with their hands, has no artistic talent, and has been doing bonsai for ten or more years without designing even one speciman tree, then yes looking at more expensive material is the way to go.

That way a person is guarenteed to have the best mallsai in the club.


On the other hand, if one is talented, works well with advanced bonsai technique, and has a collection of impressive bonsai that have been developed from scratch, then selecting more expensive material just bumps up the success rate of great looking trees.

But that person is also capable of making superior trees with the least expensive material that the guy above would have never dreamed of.  Talent will overshadow the price of material every time.
 

akeppler

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Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2011, 01:30 AM »
Many of you know my personality. If you had to chose a plant for me to work on, which one , from my perspective, would I have the best chance of making a great tree from?