The Challenges we face

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The Challenges we face

Post  theBalance on Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:17 pm

Hi friends,

Bonsai is one of the most challenging arts exist  Very Happy 
for me the most challenging part about Bonsai is determining the initial design for a bonsai...
this is a part that although I become better and better over time, I still feel I have a lot to improve...

I have 2 questions for you...
what is your current #1 challenge in Bonsai ?
what was the #1 challenge when you just started ?
 Shocked 

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:42 pm

theBalance wrote:Hi friends,

Bonsai is one of the most challenging arts exist  Very Happy 
for me the most challenging part about Bonsai is determining the initial design for a bonsai...
this is a part that although I become better and better over time, I still feel I have a lot to improve...  

I have 2 questions for you...
what is your current #1 challenge in Bonsai ?
what was the #1 challenge when you just started ?
 Shocked 

#1 Challenge is to keep growing with my trees

#1 when I started everything was the #1 challenge; material, pots, wire, tools, and education.

Vance Wood
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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Michael Cooper on Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:21 pm

#1 challenge is living long enough to see ones bonsai plans come to fruit.

Michael Cooper
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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:45 pm

Amen!

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:07 pm

Michael Cooper wrote:#1 challenge is living long enough to see ones bonsai plans come to fruit.

Yes; that is true but knowing that this place in time may not come to pass, for everything you are working on, it should be enough to be happy when everything is progressing and not losing ground.  If you start grinding yourself  down for things you cannot control, you are going to make yourself a very sad and bitter bonsai person.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Tom Simonyi on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:25 pm

Spot on, Vance....

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Michael Cooper on Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:34 pm

Not bitter and not sad Vance, just wondering if there is the remotest possibility that one of my offspring will take the slightest interest in my few 'twigs in pots'
The eldest son, Julian once left in charge whilst we were away failed to water a nice little Olive enough during a very sudden unexpected early summer heatwave some years ago.
'Couldn't you tell it was dying' I demanded on our return 'it's brown, it's brittle, you can flick the leaves off like breaking a china ornament!   Couldn't you see it's BROWN,brown Julian,brown!'
'No dad,' he replied 'You know I am colour blind.' Crying or Very sad

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:56 pm

"TIME" seems to be the #1 challenge in many things, but especially in bonsai.

#1 challenge when i first started ?
restraint

current #1 challenge ?
patience



regarding your design challenges:
perhaps let the tree suggest how it would like to look...
but sometimes that can take a long time of looking  Wink

i have a couple beautiful un-styled shimpaku i bought that were ready to work on over a year ago,
but i am still looking and so far, only one has spoken up enough for me to see, yet still i look...

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:59 pm

Michael Cooper wrote:Not bitter and not sad Vance, just wondering if there is the remotest possibility that one of my offspring will take the slightest interest in my few 'twigs in pots'
The eldest son, Julian once left in charge whilst we were away failed to water a nice little Olive enough during a very sudden unexpected early summer heatwave some years ago.
'Couldn't you tell it was dying' I demanded on our return 'it's brown, it's brittle, you can flick the leaves off like breaking a china ornament!   Couldn't you see it's BROWN,brown Julian,brown!'
'No dad,' he replied 'You know I am colour blind.' Crying or Very sad

Finding people who are interested in your bonsai is a totally different animal. I can pretty much depend on my son and an automatic watering system to take care of things for a couple of weeks but over the long haul I'm in trouble, we're all in trouble. The only hope is to develop bonsai that are so good that who ever you donate them to will find them worthy of acceptance---another unlikely scenario. The problem most of us have is that we think our trees are great but, those who host/manage/over-see these large collections are not likely to want our little masterpieces. They will turn around and sell or otherwise liquidate those items, provided they will accept them in the first place. I suppose if it is possible, if you feel that you are losing that final battle, it would be wise to contact local bonsai clubs or anyone you perceive to be interested and hold an auction. That way if your family members are not interested in continuing with your art it is better to sell your trees to someone who wants them and leave a little something for your family or------ one last fling, Woo---Hoo

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  theBalance on Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:01 pm

I join the wish for a long and quality life for you and the rest of us  Very Happy 

i am not looking for a personal advise for myself, but rather get a glimpse of what is difficult for other people

the discussion i wanted to conduct is on a more practical, down to earth challenges that are about : what should one do in a certain situation...
like : what to do with a deadwood, what to do with the flat trunk chop, deciding between fronts, deciding on the adequate style for a given tree,...

I truly appreciate your sharing  Cool 

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  theBalance on Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:17 pm

in a simple words...

besides all the routines tasks of watering,...

on what kind of problems/challenges do you mostly need to think and get feedback from other people ?

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  leatherback on Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:33 pm

Being a newby in bonsai (really only started about 3, 4 years ago), my hardest part is finding the tree within; deciding upon a route to take that brings out the best of the plant at hand..

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  M. Frary on Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:44 pm

The hardest challenges for me now and when I began is finding good material and pots. The material thing I got down. I collect from the wild. Except for most pines and all junioers. Pots are a problem because I have to order every one. Which reminds me.I'm in the market for a decent shimpaku. None of those around for hundreds of miles.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:09 pm

M. Frary wrote:  I'm in the market for a decent shimpaku. None of those around for hundreds of miles.

not sure how far fairview is from chicago, but it might be worth the trip down to the august show there...
LOTS of vendors and i scored two beautiful shimpakus there last year...

lots of other stuff to do down that-a-away if you wanted to make a weekend of it.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  theBalance on Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:41 pm

interesting...
it seems that only 3 people in this entire community face challenges in bonsai  Very Happy 

common, share your challenge  bounce 

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  GerhardGerber on Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:11 pm

Michael Cooper wrote:#1 challenge is living long enough to see ones bonsai plans come to fruit.
 Very Happy spot on  affraid 

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Leo Schordje on Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:26 am

Biggest challenges - hard to pick just one.

Patience, the patience to pause, think, and remember what the plan is before "doing" a technique. I have over worked a number of trees to death. Too many things in one growing season will kill even the most vigorous tree. Leaving an exciting tree to grow out for a year is really difficult.

Neglect - I tend to run in spurts. End up sitting in front of a computer typing about bonsai, rather than doing something outside for the trees. Sometimes things get neglected. Whether it is a long weekend away, or a couple of busy days with "life" outside of bonsai, and suddenly you find something that dried out too hard, got skipped in the watering, what ever - and death ensues. It is always the "best stuff" that takes the damage points first. That ugly pomegranate, that refuses to die, just keeps getting uglier and uglier, where the nice white pine just turns brown and dies.

I'm really frustrated that my "best looking trees" tend to be damaged or die from either #1, overworked or #2, neglect. As a result I am always frustrated by not having anything that I feel is "show worthy". I always end up not having anything looking good enough for a local club meeting, or good enough for a show. If this was my fist decade fooling around with bonsai, I'd just chalk it up to being a beginner. But I have been fooling around with bonsai for nearly 40 years, and still have a collection that looks like a beginners collection. In some ways I've been a novice 40 times over.  Embarassed  I definitely have not mastered bonsai - even though I have so much time into it.

My collection has gotten better the last few years, good teachers, good synergy with my local club, and finding a study group this year. I do have one tree that I have been watering since I was in high school, some 40 years ago - it is that ugly pomegranate. It suffers design wise from all the beginner mistakes made with it over the years. I also have a couple pines that have been with me 20 years, but they are Pinus strobus, and we all know about problems creating good bonsai with them. Most everything else I have is less than 10 years in my care. The case of alternating between too much attention and neglect. Wipes the good stuff out every time.

Above all, I enjoy the activities of bonsai, the watering, the care. These things are where my enjoyment is. Showing a tree is a minor goal.

As to what happens when I die? I don't worry about it much. "All is Impermanence" I have made some provisions, there is a phone number tacked to the wall, next to the phone of a bonsai friend to call if I get hospitalized (or worse). Nothing in my collection is really a work of art (yet), so "legacy" is not what I worry about. My legacy is in my relationships with family and friends, not in the stuff I've accumulated.

Now I should quit typing and see if a tree needs water.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  juniper07 on Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:23 pm

Challenge # 1: Finding someone to babysit my trees when I am out on vacation or on a business trip (normally spanning a week). Honestly, I can go without vacation to take care of my trees... but don't have the guts to say that to wify. Finding someone who understands proper watering timing is also a challenge since my collection has become better and pricier.

Challenge # 2: Instilling the love of bonsai in my children. This is not that high of a concern right now, but will become high once I get to that age. I have noticed that majority of the bonsai enthusiasts have a great affinity to the outdoors... visiting national parks, wilderness, fishing, trekking, climbing, etc. Maybe I should do more outdoor activities with my kids.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:21 pm

Challenge # 1: Finding someone to babysit my trees when I am out on vacation or on a business trip (normally spanning a week). Honestly, I can go without vacation to take care of my trees... but don't have the guts to say that to wify. Finding someone who understands proper watering timing is also a challenge since my collection has become better and pricier.

This one is easy. For $31 + you buy a programmable timer (battery operated -- http://www.amleo.com/product.aspx?p=56607). Put fresh batteries in it before you leave, set it to water however many times a day you want for how long you want, then go on vacation or holiday. The key to total reliability is FRESH batteries.

I use one of these every day. One set of batteries lasts me one entire growing season, so changing to new batteries every time you go off for a week or two is safe. The only thing you may have to do -- depending on how your trees are arranged -- is to move your trees somewhere they can all be watered at once by a sprinkler (or set up a Dripworks system like mine).

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:33 pm

Leo Schordje wrote:End up sitting in front of a computer typing about bonsai, rather than doing something outside for the trees.

Now I should quit typing and see if a tree needs water.

almost pee'd myself from laughing so hard at that last line...

(LLOL should mean LITERALLY laughing out loud)

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  MikeG on Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:26 pm

As a newbie with just around 5 years under my belt, I found that a major challenge I had was not just blindly following info and advice, and learning how much personal experience from trial and error is.
A major example was with soil. I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic what masters seemed to be doing and used an inorganic mix of expensive substrates and quickly regretted it. Might work in Japan or if I could water them 4 times a day, but being 17 floors up with wind and low humidity, not so great.
Don't get me wrong. 99% of what Ive learned is thru the advice of more experienced people. But once in a while I gotta remember to think about something logically, and do what I think is right for the health of my trees.

Another challenge as stated earlier is finding someone reliable to watch my trees while away for an extended period of time. Got a trip coming up and Im trying to find someone. My 18 year old niece offered to apartment sit for us, but I wouldn't use the word 'reliable' for an 18 yr old spending 7 days in the city for the first time. LOL

Mike

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:58 pm

MikeG wrote:  As a newbie with just around 5 years under my belt, I found that a major challenge I had was not just blindly following info and advice, and learning how much personal experience from trial and error is.
  A major example was with soil. I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic what masters seemed to be doing and used an inorganic mix of expensive substrates and quickly regretted it. Might work in Japan or if I could water them 4 times a day, but being 17 floors up with wind and low humidity, not so great.
 Don't get me wrong. 99% of what Ive learned is thru the advice of more experienced people. But once in a while I gotta remember to think about something logically, and do what I think is right for the health of my trees.

 Another challenge as stated earlier is finding someone reliable to watch my trees while away for an extended period of time. Got a trip coming up and Im trying to find someone. My 18 year old niece offered to apartment sit for us, but I wouldn't use the word 'reliable' for an 18 yr old spending 7 days in the city for the first time. LOL

Mike

If we all grew our trees in the same climate zone and used the same kinds of trees and had the same exposure angle of the sun then most of this would be a vapid argument. But we don't. I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic what masters seemed to be doing and used an inorganic mix of expensive substrates and quickly regretted it. See this too is a case in point. Where did the master live whose recipe you followed? Did you understand what you were being told? It's always easy to blame the source of information and exonerate the interpreter for a flawed execution.

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  coh on Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:17 pm

Vance Wood wrote:
MikeG wrote:  As a newbie with just around 5 years under my belt, I found that a major challenge I had was not just blindly following info and advice, and learning how much personal experience from trial and error is.
  A major example was with soil. I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic what masters seemed to be doing and used an inorganic mix of expensive substrates and quickly regretted it. Might work in Japan or if I could water them 4 times a day, but being 17 floors up with wind and low humidity, not so great.
 Don't get me wrong. 99% of what Ive learned is thru the advice of more experienced people. But once in a while I gotta remember to think about something logically, and do what I think is right for the health of my trees.

 Another challenge as stated earlier is finding someone reliable to watch my trees while away for an extended period of time. Got a trip coming up and Im trying to find someone. My 18 year old niece offered to apartment sit for us, but I wouldn't use the word 'reliable' for an 18 yr old spending 7 days in the city for the first time. LOL

Mike

If we all grew our trees in the same climate zone and used the same kinds of trees and had the same exposure angle of the sun then most of this would be a vapid argument.  But we don't.  I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic what masters seemed to be doing and used an inorganic mix of expensive substrates and quickly regretted it.  See this too is a case in point.  Where did the master live whose recipe you followed?  Did you understand what you were being told?  It's always easy to blame the source of information and exonerate  the interpreter for a flawed execution.

But Vance, he is not blaming the source...he said (quoting) "I should have used my horticultural instincts at first, but I stupidly tried to mimic... I've seen plenty of people blame the source but this isn't one of those times.

Anyway...trying to figure out who to listen to is one of the big challenges, I agree. I've mentioned elsewhere that I've seen some of the current acknowledged bonsai masters give conflicting information about such issues as when to wire a particular species (juniper in particular), what types of soil to use (one calls turface poison, another has been using it successfully for 30+ years), even how to wire and unwire trees. Same thing with books (and the internet and all its supposed masters). I've come to rely on a few members of our local club who have been doing this for a while and have healthy and well styled trees to back up their statements. It's all much more difficult if you are trying to go it alone, but even with local help there are many things you just have to figure out for yourself.

Chris

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Re: The Challenges we face

Post  Vance Wood on Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:47 pm

Well--- actually the bottom line is that you can do pretty much what you want to a Juniper any time during the year and plant it in almost any kind of soil. This is why you get so many opposing points of view.  What you can't do is allow scale and spider mites to run wild, and they will, and are difficult to spot. You also cannot allow the tree to sit in muck. One last "can't do" expect things to go well if you are repotting the tree too frequently. Give it at least three growing seasons before disturbing the roots again. Having said this maybe you need to examine what you are doing and see if there are some things in your list you should not be doing.

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