Starting out

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Starting out

Post  Lea2109 on Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:09 am

Hello,

I'm new to the site. For a few years now I've been fascinated with bonsai and now finally I am keen to actually start a bonsai. One thing I am struggling to understand is if I bought a plant from a nursery, what sort of size is best to get? When my now 7 year old finished her leukemia treatment and we planted a tree to celebrate (an evergreen magnolia that was 6 years old just like she was at the time) I remember even though it was a young tree, it was quite tall and big. So if I was to prune it, would it actually start getting smaller or is something like this actually too big to start off with?

Or is it better to start off planting a seed?


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Re: Starting out

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:07 am

Lea2109 wrote:Hello,
I remember even though it was a young tree, it was quite tall and big. So if I was to prune it, would it actually start getting smaller or is something like this actually too big to start off with?
Or is it better to start off planting a seed?

You can start with a nursery tree but a Magnolia isn't a good choice for a number of reasons, but mostly the very large leaves. Depending upon the species you can reduce the size of the plant and its leaves a great deal.

1. The best way to start is to join a club. Go to the Bonsai Clubs International web site and check for a local club.

2. Get a book from the library.

3. Order a book off the internet.

4. You can start from seed, BUT, many good bonsai species grow better from cuttings and seeds take a long time.

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Re: Starting out

Post  Lea2109 on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:16 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:

You can start with a nursery tree but a Magnolia isn't a good choice for a number of reasons, but mostly the very large leaves. Depending upon the species you can reduce the size of the plant and its leaves a great deal.

1. The best way to start is to join a club. Go to the Bonsai Clubs International web site and check for a local club.

2. Get a book from the library.

3. Order a book off the internet.

4. You can start from seed, BUT, many good bonsai species grow better from cuttings and seeds take a long time.

Thank you. I realise a Magnolia isn't a good choice, it is just at the time when we were looking for a tree to plant in celebration of the end of her treatment, we chose a magnolia tree. My question was mostly based on that I remember this particular tree to be quite tall (something like 2m) even though it was really young still (6 years old). So if I had to buy a tree (that is suitable to make into a bonsai), what is a suitable size tree to start off with? I.e. if it was quite tall, will it become suitable with pruning, etc?

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Re: Starting out

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:30 am

Bonsai folks will buy a suitable species that is six feet high and cut it to one foot or less, sometimes right in the nursery. (Fits in the car better and really confuses the nursery staff.)

I looked at clubs in NZ on the BCI web site and found five or six. If one is close enough to you it would be to your great advantage to join it. (I drive 100 miles round trip to club meetings.)

I don't know much about bonsai in NZ. I know you have a diverse climate.

There was one BCI member from NZ on the recent tour of China but I didn't get to talk to her much.

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Re: Starting out

Post  Lea2109 on Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:38 am

Thank you Billy,

I really appreciate the advice. We live on the Kapiti Coast that seems to have quite a good climate, but unfortunately we are about 1.5 hours drive from the nearest bonsai club. I will however get in touch with them to see when they might meet and so on.

Thanks again. I really appreciate your advice. Very Happy

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Re: Starting out

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:50 pm

I hope your daughter is well.

Generally speaking, we tend to take larger trees and downsize them into bonsai. You get a more mature look sooner than if you take a twig or seedling or cutting and grow it UP.

There is a book by fellow southern hemisphere grower, Deborah Koreshoff -- "Bonsai: Its Art, Science, History, and Philosophy" -- which is not only a very good read, but is one of the best how-to books on bonsai. It is out of print up here now, but is available as a used book on various sites -- try www.abebooks.com.

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Re: Starting out

Post  Lea2109 on Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:09 pm

Thank you Jim. Yes, Bianca is well at the moment. She is a year off treatment which is a great milestone to reach.

Thank you for the info. It is making more sense for me and I want to go to the nursery today just to see what sort of trees might be available and start getting my head around it. When the library is open again tomorrow (today is public holiday) I want to go and see which books are available to read more before I start.

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Re: Starting out

Post  RKatzin on Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:41 pm

Hi Lea, I'm a self starter, not having a club within a few hundred miles of my location. From my own experience I would suggest starting out with small inexpensive specimens you won't mind parting with. My first book was alot of to do stuff without much how to do info. You know, it just said prune roots in spring and speaking of re-potting a bonsai and not this mess of root nursery stock I was looking at. Alot of trial and error back then (mostly error) and I piled up a heap of firewood, but I learned the basics bonsai techniques and a few of those trees are still in my collection and really hold special meaning for me. I wouldn't say the time and money were wasted by any means, but it did amount to quite a bit of time (years) and a heap of dough, impossible to tally at this point. Now I only will buy a small specimen if that's all that's available. In nursery stock I'm looking for trees with 3-4 inch trunks standing 5-10 feet tall. They're a bit more expensive, but I'm alot more selective about what I'll put my money down on and I have the confidence that I can handle processing the tree without killing it. For those of us stuck out in the sticks, the net is where our club is and this forum is top of the line. Welcome to the fascinating world of bonsai and, may I add, show no fear, if you would like to make a magnolia bonsai you certainly can, just make it a big one. Best of luck,

Rick

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Re: Starting out

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:36 pm

Lea, why don't you plant a seed/s with Bianca, something that grows in your area and can be bonsai-ed?
Best to you.
Khaimraj

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Re: Starting out

Post  Lea2109 on Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:49 am

Today I took the first step - I borrowed a bunch of books from the library including "Bonsai, It's art, science, history and philosophy" by Deborah R Koreshoff. Now let the learning begin... Very Happy

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Re: Starting out

Post  John Quinn on Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:03 am

Good book!

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