Bonsai Citizenship

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Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:32 pm

As we move forward, and the we I mean are those who in some fashion or another grow trees in pots or create landscapes in trays, would developing an identity of stewardship of trees be possible or become necessary or just be valuable?

Many of us collect trees from the wild, and many of us know the history of Shimpaku juniper in Japan. It seems unlikely that this lifestyle/hobby we have been drawn to could possibly strip the land of certain species of trees in most countries, but are we growing in numbers? Are there trees valuable and rare enough to be affected by collection? And does that matter? Can stewardship simply be a valuable identity? Is there already a kernel of this concept out there amongst us that is just not commonly talked or written about?

This thought occurred to me as I read another thread discussing the collection of trees in the 10's and 100's, and I wonder what others think in this regard.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:12 pm

Precarious wrote:Are there trees valuable and rare enough to be affected by collection?  And does that matter?

the short answer is: yes.

as an aside; i have just started reading "eating dirt"
http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Dirt-Forests-Timber-Tree-Planting-ebook/dp/B005O3AMJC

should be interesting and may shed light non-bonsai oriented light on the subject.

book report due after road trip study

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  JimLewis on Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:53 pm

Are there trees valuable and rare enough to be affected by collection? And does that matter? Can stewardship simply be a valuable identity? Is there already a kernel of this concept out there amongst us that is just not commonly talked or written about?

The answer is YES. And it's not only "valuable and rare" trees. Overcollecting can turn once common trees into endangered trees -- at least locally.

There is precedent. Once common, colorful tree snails of several genera have all but vanished in Florida because of collectors. Ditto several species of orchids. Exotic birds of several kinds are getting scarce in tropical areas because of indiscriminate collecting. U.S. Customs are always finding hidden shipments of parrots, macaws, etc. at Miami ports.

But don't expect to be popular if you start arguing against careless commercial collecting. I wrote an article for the ABS' "Bonsai Journal" back in the 1990s entitled "The Ethics of Collecting" and unwisely included my e-mail -- which rapidly filled with some rather nasty notes. And I wasn't urging the banning of collecting -- only responsibility.

I'm continually reminding people here and elsewhere that they MUST have written permission from the owners of any land the collect trees from, whether is is private, corporate, local government, state government or federal government. I'm always surprised when people express amazement about this and even get pissed when they learn they cannot collect from National Parks or Monuments at any time.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  darky on Sun Oct 26, 2014 6:58 am


Here in Western Australia we have a large amount of clearing for development. So we are allowed a lot of leeway, but as always responsible collecting is what is appreciated.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  M. Frary on Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:23 am

I have a job where I cut trees down for a living. I operate a piece of equipment that I can clear cut 10 acres per day. Every tree gone. The ones that are too large for it(and it cuts a 24" tree off in less than a second) I get to whack with a chain saw. These are usually a couple hundred year old white pines. They make a hell of a mess when they hit the ground.
My hobby is bonsai. Working with trees. I have the opportunity to collect as many trees as my cold,black little heart desires. The power company I'm contracted to gave me permision to collect trees on their property. So why not dig up hundreds. And in a few years there will be a place in Michigan where people might be able to get a collected tree that will live down to zone 3.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:36 pm

I'm glad there's lumber(I assume the wood you cut down is for that purpose, sorry if I'm wrong there) for I live in a wood house. But this issue may be different. As an example, I put my little green recycling bucket out with the trash eeevery week, though my indivicual effort is less than a drop in a bucket. Yet the process helps develop in me a consciousness of stewardship. That consciousness has an effect in everything I do. Maybe that's a bigger drop in the bucket. It makes me think that when I go on a tree collecting trip in Colorado, I want to find a way to help give back by planting a number of trees for every one I plan to collect, or something better if smart people show me something more useful. Given the history of the Shimpaku juniper in Japan, I wonder if there exists amongst bonsaists today a sense of stewardship with trees. I think it's a valuable way to live, no matter what my 9-5 may be currently.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  JimLewis on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:48 pm

Planting a tree for every one you take would be as symbolic an action as putting  out your little green recycle bin, and if that makes you think more about what you do to the world around you, that is well and good.

What is more important, however, is urging (and getting, of course) other people to think that way.  That often is like spitting into the wind.  My working life was spent writing about the world around us and developing environmental education materials.  I hope I've had some kind of effect, but listening to the nothing-must-change ostriches blather about the "global warming myth" makes me wonder.  

So, in our field of work here, keep on harping on the need to collect responsibly.  The hard part of that is to NOT sound like an A-men-and-Hallelujah-Lord, Bible thumper so people don't just ignore you (except on Sunday).

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Sun Oct 26, 2014 4:54 pm

If I feel like I have something to contribute, I try to invite discussion. Where that turned to harping I didn't see. I don't mean to offend.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  JimLewis on Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:43 pm

Gee. I wasn't mad at you. From the standpoint of environmental proselytizing. "harping" is what you NEED to do.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  fiona on Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:38 am

Jim was saying that we ALL should be harping on about the need for careful collecting. Sometimes he does actually make sense ya know. Wink

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:48 am

Where I come from harping is universally a negative. I understand now. And I want to say that I only threw out tree planting as an example. There are as many ways to steward as there are navels(this was not intended to slight people without navels). cyclops

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  JimLewis on Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:53 am

(this was not intended to slight people without navels).

Mighty small group.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:01 pm

As Jim says,

the problem is not the collecting, but the technique of collecting.

The older books speak of taking time, and preparing the soil around the tree, seems to take 2 to 3 years.
If someone were doing that, they would be unable to pull 10 or 100 trees out of the ground.

We for example have such a mild climate, our trees remain healthy and never get the Shimpaku on the mountain's edge look. So it is a waste of time to collect, all you get is a healthy telephone pole.

However, I do know of one guy who had an eye for finding, and boy could he kill. Wouldn't give anything up, just dig and kill. Big trunk, Big trunk.

I take seedlings and seeds, or cuttings in the hopes that those that follow will learn by example.
However most the newcomers fall in that age range of 30 ish to 50 ish, where it is difficult to get them to settle down and just enjoy the growing experience.
Especially 50, where the time of pondering of achievements or lack of them comes around. You cannot talk any sense into these folks, they have to have trophy.
Sadly, these types burn out on Bonsai in around 5 to 10 years and the trees end up mostly dead.
No one will really purchase Bonsai on our side, they are not seen as worth having, especially for the care needs.

Interesting, instead of taking from the wild, flora or fauna, home cultivate. Breed the birds, train the seeds, show some real interest.
Later.
Khaimraj


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heyyyy..... waidaminit !!!

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:14 am

JimLewis wrote:
(this was not intended to slight people without navels).

Mighty small group.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:30 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:However most the newcomers fall in that age range of 30 ish to 50 ish, where it is difficult to get them to settle down and just enjoy the growing experience.
Especially 50, where the time of pondering of achievements or lack of them comes around. You cannot talk any sense into these folks, they have to have trophy.
being in my early 50s and having been doing this for almost 3 years, that was something i struggled with, but overcame...
i never wanted to be a "check-book bonsai artist" and luckily i ended up with a group of friends who have helped steer me in the right direction... i have always enjoyed the growing experience relative to gardening in general and find it even more enjoyable in bonsai, now that i have "settled down"... a bit.

re: collecting and stewardship, if everyone acted with a conscience and with common sense there would be nothing to discuss Wink

unfortunately that is not the case.

(i say we should change the term "common sense" to "un-common sense" because good sense doesn't seem to be very "common" Rolling Eyes )

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:38 pm

Kevin,

I am also 52, and my 50's bit ended up with me buying a cheap ring from the local Chinese store, to say I was 50. Then my age moved on. Guess painting/drawing, house designing/ building, just doing that could seen, protected me.
My cousin, sadly, has gone over the edge, worries about her beauty, and achievements.

Been doing this growing bit for so long, that I no longer think about achieving - bonsai - or a bonsai. Just happy to see how a seed/seedling becomes a tree. Wanting to understand our local Poui's or Immortelles more and more, to research, to learn.

It's like when I take a rectangular shape of metal alloy and pound it into a ring for wearing. To learn.
Laters.
Khaimraj

* I got a source of 3mm glass beads and am going to use that and an organic mix to grow a seedling into a bonsai, should take 5 or so years. Very exciting!!!

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  AlainK on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:57 pm

Precarious wrote: (...) Are there trees valuable and rare enough to be affected by collection?  And does that matter? (...)

To me, it does.

My only "yamadori" are either trees or shrubs grown in a garden the owners wanted to get rid of (mainly hedge plants: lonicera, privet, buxus, etc).

I suppose that those who have the right connections or opportunitiy can save even more valuable specimens: at a time I was not into bonsai, tree nurseries and horticulturists were relocated because of a town planning projects near where I lived. Some of my colleagues just took the plants that had been left there, some of them quite old.

In our club, we also went to tree nurseries where they were about to get rid of old "mother-plants" used for cuttings for years.

Otherwise, I like sowing, air-layering, making cuttings, using garden centre materials. I like to think that what I sowed will survive me, whoever takes care of it, my sons, my friends, a stranger. As long as it can help, or be of some use to others, and preferrably to many others Wink

Rather than "Bonsai Citizenship", I'd rather use the terms "Bonsai Culture". Citizenship is defined by law. Cuture is mainly about values.




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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:29 pm

Yes culture, or even stewardship.

I am swayed by Khaimraj's argument that setting a good example is the best, and I'm glad for this thread just to hear the story about how he operates- taking seedlings and cuttings and enjoying the process of growing. Also another contributor who collects trees before they get mowed down. I have read others who collect trees before they get bulldozed under. These are stories that I hope can increase in the Lounge forum.

This thread has me rethinking even going on a collecting trip. The trophy trees are already mounted on the hillside. Why do I need to put them in a pot? I can see such trees being about as rare as rhinos in a few decades.

Are there any bonsai shows in any country that reward great bonsai that specifically have a documented history of having been grown from seedling/cutting/pre-bonsai? That, I think, would allow the celebration of the patience and vision of the grower, as well as the beauty of the tree.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:10 pm

David,

get a few bonsai friends together, locate an acre or two and get some folk to contribute $$. Build a bonsai museum, get your efforts there.

That is what we are working on down here. Too many folk getting old and then having their trees sold off as house ornaments, eventually dead.
What a waste!!

Went to see 5 acres the other day, but too low, and rain makes it swampy. Will keep searching.

I see no point in selling my efforts, and would prefer to treat them as paintings.
Best to you.
Khaimraj

* If you understand a tree type well [ having grown ten or so for education- know it well enough so it can sit up and beg ] then with the experience, collect, prepare the soil around the tree, a supreme example.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  appalachianOwl on Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:34 pm

So David, a practice of mine on some occasions, has been to wire and trim trees and just let them be on the mountain. It is my understanding that none of us own any of the tree's we keep for company in the slightest, these are our brothers/sisters/friends. Am I alone in my understanding?

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:25 am

I think I needed a reminder of that- companionship rather than ownership. Do you wire and trim to keep bonsai-size, or for their size in the wild? I have pruned a few wild trees in my travels to improve branch pattern or remove an unsightly break. Never thought much about it, but I guess that fits here too.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:15 pm

[quote="Precarious"]Yes culture, or even stewardship.

I
This thread has me rethinking even going on a collecting trip.  The trophy trees are already mounted on the hillside.  Why do I need to put them in a pot?  I can see such trees being about as rare as rhinos in a few decades.


I guess it's alright to come from this point of view but if you stop and think about what you are saying there is a serious flaw.  I am thinking you have not been in the Mountains much or you would have answered your own question.  These trees you refer to as the trophy trees live in places, not along the side of the road but high up on extreme locations accessible to only a few people who are in good physical condition and capable of clamoring around on cliff faces carrying equipment and tools for tree harvesting.  The point is; these trees would only be seen by a select few, probably a hand full by count.  

I am well into my sixties and though I can still drive to many of these extreme locations if I have a mind to, which I have done now for several years, I am now unable to climb around on the side of a mountain above 6,000',  most of the really good stuff grows at elevations in excess of 8,000'.  If you are able to go and see these trees in person I can tell you what you need to do.  Enjoy looking at the tree and don't dig it up.  Remember this; if it were not for those who in the past had taken the time and risk to harvest some of these wonders of nature and given us the art of bonsai you probably would not interested in this issue at all.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  leatherback on Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:02 pm

Vance Wood wrote:  Remember this; if it were not for those who in the past had taken the time and risk to harvest some of these wonders of nature and given us the art of bonsai you probably would not interested in this issue at all.

Now this is an interesting stance in the whole Yesmadori or Nomadory discussion!

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  appalachianOwl on Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:28 pm

Just for there size, some are in fact "bonsai" sized though. I could not agree more with Jim on the responsible/ respectful methods and practices of collection, and treatment of nature in general. I do myself enjoy a good collection, of the local Pinus rigida I have collected, about 5, these were the only ones of thousands I have looked at that were interesting or remotely collectable.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

Post  Precarious on Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:35 pm

Vance Wood wrote:

I guess it's alright to come from this point of view but if you stop and think about what you are saying there is a serious flaw.  

Circa 1900, it was a rigorous journey down route 66 to get to the Petrified Forest in Arizona.  Not many people could go there to enjoy/study/stand in awe.  Today is different- it's right off an interstate.  But thousands of tons of trophies are long gone, sold and dispersed a hundred years ago.  In light of history, is my thinking that flawed?

Many giant caverns are hidden to protect them.  We can't go there until there is an apparatus in place to fend off trophy hunters.

How does the mounted head compare to the animal in its environment?  How does the stalagmite on a stand compare to him standing with his brothers in silent testimony to something much more Grand?  How does the ancient juniper in a bonsai pot compare to that same plant jutting out of a cliff, testifying to the endurance in life and the will to survive?  One is just the shadow of the other.

Not all examples equate EXACTLY to our discussion, but their echoes can guide us to how we want to be and live now.  We will daily define the art of bonsai by our actions.  The various extremes, and the middle road as well, will leave their impression on the history books.

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Re: Bonsai Citizenship

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