Author Topic: You get what you pay for....True?  (Read 7386 times)

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 01:35 AM »
This small pine was developed from a $3.00 liner in three years.
 

Elliott

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 146
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2011, 03:08 AM »
congradulations. but just think, If you would have spent $6.00 on that liner, you would now have a "Best tree in mall " trophy . ;)
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2011, 07:54 AM »
I'm with you Al, 100 %. But for you other guys, are you suggesting a newbie pay $1,000 plus for a tree? I read somewhere, ( to paraphrase), that  to buy a person a bonsai who doesn't know how to care for it, is like buying him a violin when he doesn't know how to play it. Bonsai isn't about having a little tree to show off to your friends, nor is it even a hobby. Bonsai is a lifestyle. We eat, drink and sleep bonsai. We even plan family vacations thinking about what bonsai percs may be involved. I could not recommend a newbie buys an expensive tree til he is committed, and that may take years. Look at the numbers. Over 6,900 people joined this web site, but only a dozen or so post anything. I wonder how many joined here after getting a mal-sai, only to have it die in a few months, and never log on again. I would hate to think that 6000 pieces of good material died for no reason. You can buy a pick-up load of firewood for $100, so why pay $1,000 for one log. I'm just saying.   Larry
 

Jay

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 472
  • Thanked: 2 times
  • USDA zone 4 Northern Vermont
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2011, 08:14 AM »
Larry, the extreme is never a good thing. My original thought and I believe the thoughts of others is that a raw tree purchased at a home center for 'only' a few bucks is unlikely to be a good purchase. Sure, a well trained eye can find a worth while tree at Home Depot but that is a well trained eye. Al has stated and has given examples of trees he was able to develop from very inexpensive material. His knowledge and artistic ability are great, not all of us have it. I am one of those who has been into Bonsai for over ten years. I am not the best of artist and require (yes require) direction at times to help me with my trees. I'd venture that there are more of us who fall into this group than would like to admit it. For me, and I believe many others, purchasing a tree from a Bonsai Nursery that has had basic development is the best way to go.

It is true that just because a tree has a high price does not make it good material.  There are many good reasons for a tree to be higher priced and also some bad ones. The buyer does need to have the basics and a knowledge of the general market prices.

Hey it is my 2 cents worth, glad to hear and talk about others
Jay
 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2011, 08:20 AM »
Al, I fully agree that you can make great trees from, oh let's say free seed. However, you have done something that most folks don't do- you applied technique to your material and developed nice trees. The position I am proposing is that most folks go to a nursery and pick up a nice bunch of foliage with an un-manegable structure underneath and wonder why it can't be turned into a bonsai instantly.

Personally, I would rather start with a seedling/cutting, knowing that in a number of years you can have a decent tree than start out with a nice looking bunch of foliage that may not lead to a tree any sooner (and may actually take longer) to make a reasonable tree. If you want to make trees into bonsai, take the time and be sure that the tree has the fundamental components to make a plant into a reasonable bonsai. Al, so, based on the premise of others (not you) your tree is a 5-6 year old seedling, so it i only worth about $10 retail. OH, but the hours of work and the skill applied has made the tree worth more than $10, let's say $100. My point is, that folks who don't yet have the skills would be better to pay for the time of others to purchase a few trees with good preparative work than to buy a lot of plants that have been grown specifically for the landscape trade (aka straight trunks and high branches). We have all done this, but helping folks to see why it isn't necessarily the best approach.

Larry, I know that you can buy a pickup load of wood for $100, why pay $1000 for a single tree? You can buy a Nano for $1500 why pay $18k for a Chevy or $100K for a Mercedes?

John

 

jacksmom

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2011, 10:39 PM »
 I think that for a beginner like myself, a blend of cheap home store trees and a few, select, mature already styled trees is a good compromise.  Learning to wire on a picky and expensive tree would turn this wonderful, relaxing hobby into another stress filled activity.  Honestly I had such a great time working on a $3.50 Austrian Black Pine from Home Depot.  However, I also  purchased a lovely JBP in a Sara Raynor pot at our club auction earlier this month.  I plan to selectively add to my collection as our family budget allows. 


 

Elliott

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 146
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2011, 11:09 PM »
Jacksmom.. Good idea. When I said that newbies should spend more cash on material, I should have been more specific. If your brand new it probably is not a good idea to get something real expensive (although you can if you want to) until you had a chance to meet some more experienced people to work with you and even come out to your home and help you set up for Bonsai. Just like digging for yamadori, you shouldn't try that until you have some experience and have a reasonable chance of not killing a wild tree.
 But once you got a little time under your belt, have kept something alive in a bonsai pot thru a summer and a winter and have the guidance of more experienced hobbyist's, then its time to invest in your future of having nice trees. If you have talent (not everybody does, and its not a requirement to have fun or is even shameful if you lack it), pay attention to what others teach you, you will develop your skills end up with some decent stuff.
  At first its nice too have a few trees that are already in the category of "bonsai " and are not raw material simply because its cool to sit and look at your trees with a winecooler and a vicodine ;)in hand after a hard day at the office while waiting for your 3 dollar liner material to turn into something.
 Bottom line, some people are just cheap..... and that's OK as long as they enjoy themselves and don't tell other people that they only buy expensive stuff cause they have no talent. Everybody should do their hobby as they enjoy.
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2011, 01:12 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

I quoted to refresh the premise.

From my point of view, price of the material really has nothing to do with buying bonsai. First for this premise to have any validity, the end product needs to be established to really grit out the intent.

I think for the discriminating collector of fine bonsai, a guy like John Kirby who can do bonsai with the best of them, but has the ability to buy more finished trees financially, then of course price will definatly have its place. We all understand that John may wish to buy a tree from Boon, or Jim Gremel, (which he has) before he would ever buy a tree from me. Why? Because my trees are not on par with what Boon or Jim can provide. John must pay for this training, time and mastery. These trees have already established branching and taper and nebari. Mine don't.

Now what I do, is look for cheap material that I can cut up. What this takes is an eye for what can actually be done with a piece of material after cutting it up and whether or not the skill is there to reach the end result. This is the essence of doing bonsai. Being able to actully find the diamond in the matrix, and of course having the eye to see it in the first place.

Now there are those that will buy more expensive material never intending to do anything more that develop tertiary twigs and touch up what someone else has developed. Thats ok too. But just because it cost more than another piece of material that has larger potential by being cut up at a cheaper price does not rule out the cheaper material. It just means that person does not yet have the eye to see the better tree within the mess.

I gave an example earlier about two junipers I own. So far no one has given an answer on which tree I could make the best bonsai out of. The answer is simple. The tree with one curve and all the branches.

The other tree is really cool with all the twists and turns, pretty good taper and fairly good branches. It really only needs a couple years of diligent pinching and pruning and a really good tree could come from it. But that piece of material only offers one idea for a tree. first it is a juniper and a lot of upper branches are heavy, the trunk is hard and will not bend being about 1.25 inches across at the base. It is what it is.

The other tree is a blank canvas. Virgin material. It has had no training, no wire and no branch selection. There is room for jins and shari, and splits and hollows and all sorts of things.

I am a journeyman carpenter. I have built houses that cost 55K and I have built houses that cost 750K. Each house was built using the same set of skills. I don't work harder to build the bigger house. I have the same components for each. 2x4's and accesories. The difference between the houses is that one has a larger set of plans. Much like bonsai, if the plan is weak so will be the finished product. You only get out of it what you put into it. So if a new person is buying material to only finish what someone elase has started then thats all that can be expected. If you can see into the future and "what can be" then buying expensive material is not really necessary.

More to come.... break needed. My brain is smoking and I had to photoshop some stuff.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 01:50 AM by akeppler »
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2011, 01:22 AM »
Ok.... so today at a club meeting I took two trident maple stumps to work on. One is more devloped than the other and is pretty set in it's turns and twists and has good taper, and am in the process of a ground layer to improve the nebari. That was one tree. The other.....

It is about the same size, a little shorter only being about 8 inches tall at present. It is rather straight and has a good flare and really fat trunk. The trunk is about 2.5 inches at the waste and has a flare of about 3.5 inches at soil line. It too has some layering going on below ground to improve rootage.

I didn't grow out the tree. The tree was started from cutting and probably allowed rank growth for about 5 years or more. The trunk probably acheived about 10 feet in height before it was chopped. The chop is pretty bad. It was just lopped off, and no after care provided. The bark has dried out and the sap receeded about half inch below the chop line. It will take cleaning up alot of wood to get down to viable cambium to even start to get a roll and start a healing callous. The apex is pretty close and getting down to cambium will be hard on that side.

what to do????
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 01:43 AM by akeppler »
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2011, 01:33 AM »
The trunk is chunky, but it is chunky all the way to the top. Then a leader was chosen and it grew then it was chopped again, too soon and then the leader was allowed to change direction.

Well those without vision and seeing all that wood which they may have never owned before might wish to keep everything they bought. First rookey mistake.  Working with everything you buy is not visionary thinking. A person could develop some branches on this and come up with a fairly convincing chokan trident maple.


Thats not what I'm gonna do.

First I have rotated this tree till my turntable froze up and blew a bearing. There is no better tree without major surgery. This tree needs movement, dynamicism and some pretty impressive taper to be convincing.

My plan, my blueprint my vision.

First I chop the tree right down to the first branch on the right. A very tapering cut that will give the tree some very powerful taper as well as utilizing the great line under that first right branch, that beautiful crescent shape.

From there it will be a matter of developing a sacrifice leader and chop healing as well as branch management. Probably some approach grafts for the left side as the left side will have a lot of scar area. A branch will have to be developed off the back side of the tissue and brought forward and trained from there. Doable.

A classic little canopy will be built and should be about ready for a pot in 5 years. It will be interesting to see how I do.

I will make this tree from a $100.00 investment in the raw material. I paid for wood, nothing else. I hope to make a shohin tree worth 5 times that.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 01:45 AM by akeppler »
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2011, 02:31 AM »
 Al has stated and has given examples of trees he was able to develop from very inexpensive material. His knowledge and artistic ability are great, not all of us have it. I am one of those who has been into Bonsai for over ten years. I am not the best of artist and require (yes require) direction at times to help me with my trees. I'd venture that there are more of us who fall into this group than would like to admit it. For me, and I believe many others, purchasing a tree from a Bonsai Nursery that has had basic development is the best way to go.

 Jay

Ah ha! I think I have found the communication flaw in this thread. Let us consider Jay, John Kirby, and Al.

Jay has stated that he lacks skills. So for him buying the best tree he can afford works for him. He is probably not going to hack it up but refine it. It is easy to understand why from his point of view the title makes sense.

John Kirby is also of the valition that buying more expensive trees is the way to go. While skill is not his problem, financially he can just buy a more finished tree, and I mean really finished and maintain it, or even pay Boon to maintain it. Again from John's point of view I can also see how that makes sense.

Al, that cheap b%$tard always looks for a deal. It's not that I don't have the money to buy something more finished, it's just that I don't want to really work on material that has been worked on by others that didn't really know what they were doing and buy that only to find out that I really didn't have enough knowledge to know I was not getting my monies worth. That may be why I have such a different point of view about this thread.

So what this thread boils down to since both John and Jay buy trees, is that the price of the tree really determines what you get. Thats a no brainer.

For Al, my needs are not so much determined by how much I pay for it, but rather how much potential there is in what I can find for sale. The potential I see may not be seen by the seller so I can pick it up at a much cheaper price. For instance the twisty juniper that I posted was purchased for about 125.00. The smaller crescent shaped juniper  was bought for about 60.00. Most people might say the twisty tree was the better deal because I paid more for it, and the seller knew it because it was unique and interesting so he could get a premium price. The guy with the crescent juniper has something virgin, not much work done on it and most people lacking skills might just pass it by at 60.00 not really knowing what to do with it. 

Trust me, there have been plenty of times I have come home from the convention with pots instead of material, only because the diamond never revealed itself. If I don't see the diamond, I don't buy the plant!
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 02:39 AM by akeppler »
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2011, 03:32 AM »

  My point is, that folks who don't yet have the skills would be better to pay for the time of others to purchase a few trees with good preparative work than to buy a lot of plants that have been grown specifically for the landscape trade (aka straight trunks and high branches). We have all done this, but helping folks to see why it isn't necessarily the best approach.

 John



With a forum of say 200 persons, there may be only 3 or 4 persons with the skill to take a 3.00 liner and make a plant like that in three years.

Ok maybe 10, but thats not the point. The point is first we have to seperate those engaging in the hobby as to what they want out of the hobby. To continue to buy more expensive trees with out learning how to get more expensive trees from inexpensive trees is just buying bonsai? So what is the point, to buy bonsai or to make bonsai? First a person has to determine that. Do you really think I learned how to make this pine by buying two or three 100.00 dollar pines? This is only the second pine I have ever worked on. This first one I killed in 2002 after Andy Rutledge at bonsaiTALK told me I pruned it back too hard and it would die. He was right! These were the days when Andy, myself , Ripsgreentree and Walter Pall were about the only ones there.

I learned how to do bonsai by going to the nursery in Oct and buying all the gallon procumbens I could afford. Sometimes I would get them for 3.00 a piece. I hacked them, wrapped them with wire I would pick up at work following the electrician around. Not annealed mind you, I didn't even know what that was. I think I have twisted up about 100 gallon nana's over the last 30 years.  I bent and hacked till all that I learned became second nature. Not all of them were good mind you, some were just downright ugly. I learned to wire to the tips. Something many on this and many forums never do. Most have no tertiary twigs anyway so wiring tips is not even possible. I learned so much from those nana's. I wouldn't trade that cheap experiance for all of Boons video's.

Watching those video's by the way won't make you a better artist. Working on trees, and lots of them, at any price, thats what makes a person move in a better direction. A peson does not even have to have a tree to learn to wire. You can mount a set of deer antlers on a garage wall and wire and unwire that thing day after day for two weeks and become so proficiant at wireing it will be second nature. Right or wrong, thats how I learned.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 03:44 AM by akeppler »
 

Jay

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 472
  • Thanked: 2 times
  • USDA zone 4 Northern Vermont
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2011, 07:40 AM »
Al, I can and will agree with nearly all your thoughts. My difference is on detail. I am the person you describe. Skills are limited (but growing) and I am a retired individual on a fixed income. I live in a part of the country that has a short growing season, for my own reasons I do not do Tropicals.

That all said I can not invest in very young trees if I wish to enjoy them as Bonsai in a few years. What will take you 3 to 5 years in Calif will take me many years longer in northern Vermont. Not looking for pity just stating facts. I too learn from doing and it is true the more you do the better you get. For my own reasons I need to keep my collection to a manageable number of 20 to 30 trees. I can not buy all those liners to play with. I do not have the funds nor the space.

I must agree though, that different individuals will have different takes on what works for them. In Al's eye, he John and I are going in three different directions. I prefer to think we are headed to the same place but in different ways. Ability, skill, and cash availability as well as geographic location all determine how we go forward. And to what level we reach.

The one thing that is for sure is that we all love Bonsai. We love our own trees and appreciate the trees of others. And that we probably would enjoy sitting down over a cup of coffee or a beer and talking.....

Jay
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2011, 11:37 AM »
The one thing that is for sure is that we all love Bonsai. We love our own trees and appreciate the trees of others. And that we probably would enjoy sitting down over a cup of coffee or a beer and talking.....

Jay

...and that my friend is why I go to conventions ;D
 

Jerry Norbury

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 321
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: You get what you pay for....True?
« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2011, 12:08 PM »
Great thread - it's always good when Al is awoken.

You don't get what you pay for, you get what you choose. You HAVE to choose the right material (complete agreement with Al) and in the end the price is what the price IS.

I think the difference in material between what someone who can afford "more" (or have access to relatively cheaper) and someone who has "less" is PURELY in the level of development. The material chosen by Al (and me) is probably of the same standard, but is simply earlier in its life cycle... The rules for what to choose are, imnsho, completely unrelated to what the material costs.

I hang out on a UK (English speaking European wide) forum where many many beginners show up. I tend to give the same advice, which is this (since you are obviously gagging to hear it):

Trees have positive and negative attributes - you need to select a tree based on a balance of these attributes:

Positive attributes:
Visible (surface) roots
Interesting trunk
Trunk taper
Trunk girth
Adundant branches - on all sides
Foliage starting near the trunk
Branches begin low - close to the roots
Branches are ramified
Abundant foliage (i.e. healthy)

And Negative attributes (to be avoided):

Awkward or unbalanced roots
Long straight section(s) of trunk or main branches
Particularly thin trunks
Sparse branches or odd placement of branches
2 dimensional structure
Odd trunk or main branch bends
Visible chop or cut scars
Odd trunk/branch taper