Author Topic: Your collection  (Read 5607 times)


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Re: Your collection
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2012, 05:02 AM »
I'm brand new.  This spring marks one year since I fell in love at Longwood Gardens.  I spent the spring and summer accumulating all the free material I could get my hands on.  Since I'm a student, I don't have much income or time, so it seemed prudent to get started learning how to keep trees alive.  My collection currently consists of a couple tiny saplings I collected from around the yard (2 acres in rural New Hampshire makes this possible), cuttings I took of a couple different species of willow, and several pots with seeds that I collected in the fall.  I don't truly believe those will sprout, but I keep them around anyway.  They have been stratifying all winter and now that spring is in the air I am wishing and hoping to see some green.

Everyone in my family thinks I have a ridiculous number of pots, but now that I've read the rest of your stories I don't feel so bad.  My strategy has been to have enough trees  to ensure that at least a couple would survive the winter, knowing that I would screw up.  I also know that not all baby trees are destined to survive, otherwise why would trees produce so many seeds?  So I'm trying to beat the odds, and I hope that one or two of these early experiments will grow old with me.

As it turns out, I have had fairly good success, and most of those trees seem to have survived, a couple are clearly dead, and I'm waiting for warmer weather to know about the others.  I attribute this to the magical properties of willow water, which I water all my plants with after repotting.  I know that they're just sticks in pots, but I'm excited to see them wake up this spring anyway.

Tomorrow is the day, though, that I acquire my first tree from a bonsai nursery.  My birthday present from my fiancee is a workshop at the New England Bonsai Garden, and I will get to pick out a Trident Maple.  I can hardly handle it!  My goal has been to acquire trees in various stages of development, and this will accomplish that goal.  Also, hopefully I have enough expendable material to keep me from overly fussing over the new, slightly more expensive tree.

The species I have are Weeping Willow, Corkscrew Willow, Chinese Willow, A wild Maple of some sort, A wild Oak of some sort, Staghorn Sumac, an unidentified pine, Pomegranate, and Rosemary (which just sprouted).  The pots of hope contain Japanese maple, Beech, Sycamore, and weeping birch seeds.  One is also labelled "Mystery green seed."

My plan for this spring is to try my hand at air layering.  We have a ridiculous amount of Juniper as ground cover in the front yard, and I would like to air-layer some of that, and possibly collect one.  There's a small pine growing in the yard and I've decided to wire it, but leave it in the ground.  Finally, I've targeted a hemlock way back in the woods that I might try to air layer.

I guess that is to say, that my collecting process has been defined primarily by the chaotic desire to try everything, and affordability.  I want to try a wide variety so I can figure out early what I like best, and stick with that in the future.  And I want to try a variety of horticultural techniques early in the process so I can hopefully avoid killing trees in the future.


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Re: Your collection
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2012, 10:40 AM »
It seems that beginners(Mark excluded!) begin mostly the same way, as did I, getting a whole bunch of crap.  Which is a good thing, I agree.  No great loss if you kill a couple of poorly grafted maple varieties or mallsai! 
But beyond this "getting to know" bonsai phase, how to build your collection after that, I think is most interesting and the hardest part.  I've purchased the vast majority of my nice trees and great stock from friends and professional nurseries.  For a beginner past the sticks phase, I can't discount the value of having good bonsai buddies who are willing to part with some good stuff every now and again for friend prices or, even better, in trade for pots!!!!(oh, and get some good pots and a great source for them, they go a loooong way in trade for stock!). 
I actually managed to keep the vast majority of my early purchases alive(if youve read thw blog you know I'm addicted to research, so that helped).  While I have 20 or 30 nice trees that'll make show quality eventually, I still have 100 various stock trees around from the early days.  Most of these went into the ground, but a few still stay around the benches.  I still enjoy making the most out of poor, middling, and average stock.  It makes for good wiring practice and improves improves your eye, IMHO.

John Kirby

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Re: Your collection
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2012, 09:06 AM »
I have been fortunate to go through several 'phases' over my Bonsai life. Over the past 8-10 years I have made a real effort to pick up higher end trees that have been neglected or allowed to progress without the hard decisions being implemented. These trees can frequently be transformed to something better than they were before. These trees aren't inexpensive, but you can get tremendous trees in less than 8-10 years of smart work. Notice, I am not asking about starting from seed or sticks in pots. I do a lot of cuttings and seedling propagation, however I understand that I am probably preparing material for others to develop in to real, fine, bonsai in time.

One other point in addendum, I have been vey fortunate to know a number of Japanese and Japanese trained bonsai professionals. I have been able to bring a number of thee folks to my garden and have them work to improve my trees. They are my trees, I have gotten beyond the need to be te only person who ever touches them.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 09:18 AM by John Kirby »