Greetings to all!

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Greetings to all!

Post  LH1953 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:55 am

I just joined this site. A bit about me....

I am an American living in Chengdu, China. I moved here last summer to be with my wife and son. Son is from my wife's previous marriage. He is 14. Typical Chinese teenagers. Computer games and basketball are his only interests. My wife is a green thumb kinda gal. She currently has every space available in our home covered with indoor plants. I prefer the outdoor gardening.

Chengdu is my permanent home now. I am looking for a traditional walled compound home that I can buy so that I can get my family out of this massive city. Chengdu is 12 million. Being an American, I am used to having my own home/yard/space. I would like my family to experience that life without the constraints of poverty that are so prevalent with those that live in these types of homes.

I will begin looking for a home when the weather improves a bit. If I can find one, then I will begin a massive remodel/rebuilding project that will take a few years to complete to make this ancient home livable by current standards. Most of these types of homes do not have running water, plumbing, electricity or gas in them. One of the nice benefits to these homes is that they have a private area inside the wall, but outside the home. Within this area are usually gardens. If you are dirt poor, that is where the chickens live.

When the house is complete, I want a typical, traditional garden with the bonsai trees/shrubs with a sitting area to enjoy the fresh air and the garden. Because "within" the walls is the only property, if a septic tank is needed, then it will have to be located in the garden area. That is one reason I am thinking of a "potted" garden, so that I won't have to concern myself with root damage to the leach lines or the tank.

So, that is why I am here....to get tips and techniques, to share ideas, to learn and let the creative juices flow that I can build this garden in a few years.

I have had some pretty nice gardens and ponds in my homes in the U.S., so "gardening" is not new to me, but the art of bonsai is. I will be doing a lot of reading, maybe even try my hand at this art to get a few trees ready for the new home in a few years. I live in an apartment style home now, but we have a outdoor balcony and outdoor window shelves that I can use for my "nursery". I have window ledges/shelves on three side, so I can place the trees according to the sun they need...all day, morning or afternoon.

One question to get me started. What is the best online resource to use get started with my education on this subject?

LH1953
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Welcome

Post  Tony on Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:17 am

Hi LH (whats your name?)

Wow you are living right in the middle of China! See Here Guys!

What is the best online resource to use get started with my education on this subject?

There are lots of resources on the web and members here will post some for you, but in my humble opinion this is the best... you will get quick answers to questions, be inspired by others work. Laugh (at some of the threads) and find people who are near you that you can meet up with.

So... thanks for registering, welcome (again) and get involved bounce

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β€Ž"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." β€” Rumi

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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  LH1953 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:59 am

My name is Larry. My wife is Shunyan and my son is Yangzhi. Larry means "stupid guy that thinks he can do anything". Shunyan translated to English means "To do as the Swallow"(as in the bird) and Yangzhi means "strength of mind". Chinese often name their children to give them a hint of their future. In boys, they want to project some particular characteristic and then hope the child lives up to that. In the case of girls, they are projecting a grace, such as beauty or elegance. Just for example, the name Xiao Hua ("sho" as in shower) and the Hua (as in Hwa) means small flower. Her parents would have hoped that she grow up to be delicate and beautiful. So ends the Chinese lesson for the day!

Yes, I live smack in the middle of China! This is home to the Pandas and very close to where the earthquakes were last year. Not too far away is 14 million homeless people due to that earthquake. There are cities of 4 and 5 million people completely wiped out. Not a single thing standing.

The weather is not too bad. It never (well, almost never) freezes and the high is about 87%. The humidity is always high. Chengdu is a city that gets less direct sunlight than London. I have been here since July 15 and we have had three days were I could see blue sky. The air here is pretty good, There are not a lot of heavy industry here. It is, as most China cities, very densely populated. It is about 12 million people right now and growing. I would invite anyone to come see China. You think you have history? Not even close! 18,000 years ago these people had a written language!

I got the impression that this site is not for "newbs" in the art of bonsai, but I joined anyway! haha...I read that this is not the place to ask, How do I start?" I have some unique issues that others probably won't have. 1. I can't ask anyone here how to help me. I don't speak enough Chinese yet.2. I cannot have anything "live" shipped to me. There is a huge (everything here is huge) "live plant" center just north of me and I intend to browse through there and see if I can find anything that might help me get started. But beyond that, I know nothing about bonsai other than when done right, they are beautiful and I want them in my garden one day. I have built numerous gardens and water gardens, but I wouldn't have a clue to the scientific names of plants or any other term. I just try stuff until I succeed, no matter what the subject. Many plants have sacrificed their lives in my learning cycle, but that's Ok..today's plant is tomorrow fertilizer. Everything returns from where it came.

So, having said all of that, I "think" I want to start with a ficus tree that I can keep indoors. It is still winter here and the daily high is only in the low 50's and very humid(feels like 35). I have a clay figurine of a Chinese junk (boat) that I want to use as a pot. It has been a pot in its former life and it is good shape and I think the right size (about 15" long, 10" wide and 6" deep). It does have a drain hole. My thought is to shape the tree into the sail for the boat.

Any thoughts? Is this a dumb idea? Anyone care to take the time to help me with this so I can get my feet wet so to speak. What size tree do I need to start with? It's probably been a long time since you helped out anyone as new to this as me. It might be fun!

LH1953
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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  Kev Bailey on Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:14 pm

Hi Larry and welcome,

The IBC has always prided itself on being wlling and able to help the beginner. As admin, I'd be interested to know what gave you the impression otherwise? Constructive criticism helps keep us on our toes. Smile

With regard to it not being the right place to ask qquestions, that is just the matter of putting your post in the right part of the forum. THis belongs in Bonsai Questions, so I've moved it there.

Sounds like you are doing it exactly the right way. All that you need is the ability to keep a plant alive in a pot and a willingness to learn. When you get to the plant market, keep your eye open for anyone selling trees and shrubs. These are the ones most likely to survive where you are.

I'm no expert on Ficus so will leave advice on this for others. Your idea of styling one as a sail for a junk would fit quite well with the chinese bonsai aesthetic and would certainly look novel. Look up penjing and penzai as these are the relevant chinese terms. (I was going to say Google them but that's possibly not the best search engine for you?) China was doing "bonsai" long before it got to Japan.

Keep coming back to us with questions, we have a large and happy group of helpers. Input from an American in China will give us another perspective.

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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  LH1953 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:56 pm

I got that impression from reading the "What we can do...What we can't do" section. I went back and reread it. My mistake. I'm not looking for a beginners education in horticulture. I could probably use one, but that's not why I am here.

Yes, the Chinese were working Pen Zai on their shrubs and trees long before the Japanese took on this art. However, the main difference is that the Chinese worked with full grown trees, not trying to "shrink" them, but to create aesthetically pleasing shapes. The Japanese officers that occupied China in the 30's and 40's brought bonsai to the mainland and taught their prisoner/gardeners. Bonsai had been introduced to China from japan much early, but it became more widespread then. In earlier days, it was a very closely held secret technique.

However, there are many, many bonsai gardens here. There are also some Pen Zai gardens here. Some of them not to far from my home. The next time I am in that neighborhood, I'll get some pics to share.

So, the first direct question I have is: When I go to the garden store here, what the heck am I looking for? How tall is too tall? I think it would be a good idea to start with a ficus. There are many varieties here.

The picture I have in my head is a single trunk with two main branches going out at 90 degree angles from the trunk for about six inches each, then turning up, going straight up for about six inches. Then off to the inside of each of these uprights, smaller branches trained to grow straight out, filling the space between the uprights with leaves; in effect forming a fan from each side pointing towards the other side, to "fill" the sail.

It's OK...you can tell me I've lost my mind! If you have a better idea, please share!

LH1953
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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  sitarbonsai on Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:09 pm

Hey, I recommend looking at some Penjing bonsai, to get an image of a finished Chinese bonsai
so when your at a nursery you can have an idea on what your trying to get and once you get it, how you want it to look

I recommend some of these links to get an idea of good finished bonsai:

http://www.chinese-bonsai.com/bci2006.htm

http://www.artofbonsai.org/galleries/zhao.php

http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/chinese.html

I also highly recommend watching "Lindsay Farr's World of Bonsai"
just search on youtube
it is very informative on bonsai, and very fun and entertaining to watch
hope you enjoy and good luck!

Justin

sitarbonsai
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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  John Quinn on Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:18 pm

Welcome, Larry! I also thought of Qingquan "Brook" Zhao as a well known Chinese Penjing artist with whom you should become familiar. Here is a link to his website http://www.venuscomm.com/index.html

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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:36 pm

Hi, Larry and let me add my welcome to you as well.

Our standard recommendation to newcomers to the sport is to get a couple of books on the subject and read, read, read. I have no idea if that's an option for you or not, since getting books from here to there is probably difficult.

You can get some good basic info on bonsai techniques from a couple of websites. Brent Walston runs an excellent bonsai nursery in North Central California and has one of the most informative websites around. Take a look at http://www.evergreengardenworks.com. And, Harry Harison's UK website, http://www.bonsai4me.com/ also has a lot of good basic information on it. I suggest you read these sites closely before you do much shopping.

We are working to get an information section of our own back on line (you don't really want to know the background of why we lost what we had, but . . .) and hope we get it up Real Soon Now.

Most of us try to create bonsai that look like natural trees -- if idealized -- so I'm not too sure anyone here can provide any detailed help on your junk -- I may be wrong! Often am! -- but I'm certain that we all await the results with great anticipation.

A Ficus may be a good tree to start with. They are very malleable and tough. What do you look for? For a "normal" bonsai, you look first at the base of the trunk. The entire tree starts there (visually, at least). You would want a wide base that tapers attractively to a shapely trunk. A shapely trunk is one that moves gradually from the wide base and tapers to a thinner top. The trunk can be straight or curved. It can move up, down or sideways. See here: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/rules.htm

Most of all, you look for good health in a potential bonsai. Green leaves. No leaves fallen on the soil underneath it. No spotty leaves. Grasp the tree and try to move it in its pot. If it moves, go on to another because probably it has just been repotted into a larger nursery pot and you don't want to disturb it again.

How tall is too tall is up to you. For me, a finished bonsai is usually no taller than 12 inches. Many, many (even most) of the folks here prefer to work with much larger trees. So that choice is yours. Generally, though, you don't want to "grow" a bonsai up, you grow them down. So buy a bigger plant and look for the bonsai somewhere inside it and cut it back to that point.

Keep on with your questions. And again, welcome.

_________________
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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  LH1953 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:22 am

I have been reading some of these articles. Learning...learning...learning...

My mind is always looking for the "alternative" to the norm...IK...I'm just weird!

While reading some of these articles, I was particularly interested in light sources. My home is currently on the 3rd floor of a 7 floor walkup. Building of the same size surround my building. While sunlight is available, it is not as one would imagine. I have windows facing north, south, and west. All sunlight here is diffused. Remember I said that Chengdu gets less direst sunlight than London?

I know that trees don't care what time it is, but also, China has one time zone. It is currently 9:18am here and the sun came up enough to not need headlights while driving only one hour ago.

I remember having ficus trees in my home in America. Even when I got the watering right, the leaves still turned yellow and fell off until I got the light source right.

Given that these types of lights are plentiful and really, really cheap here, I was wondering...can LED's be used as a light source?

LH1953
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Re: Greetings to all!

Post  John Quinn on Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:29 am

Forum member Jerry Meislik, author of the book Ficus, The Exotic Bonsai , has a discussion of the use of LED grow lights on his website.
http://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/LEDvsFluoresc.html

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Re: Greetings to all!

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