Where to begin?

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Where to begin?

Post  caver on Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:46 am

Hello all, I'm new here and very new to Bonsai. In fact, my first tree is a Shimpaku Juniper which I've been growing for 2 months. I attended a workshop this past weekend and was shown how to shape it. Problem is, I need more! Smile In all seriousness, I'm looking to dive in and thought I could be helped here. I had to leave the workshop early due to work obligations so I wasn't able to learn as much as I could have.

This question is rather general, but if you were beginning again, could you please lend me your opinion on what you would do different? Any *must have* books, websites, etc would be much appreciated. I have a strong perennial gardening background so I believe I'll be in this for a long time.

So, it's another month to the club meeting and another 5 weeks 'till the next workshop. That's too long to wait for more knowledge!! Very Happy
In the meantime I've bought a Cypress tree to shape, ordered "Bonsai for Beginners" and "Bonsai School", and signed up for another workshop.

Thanks in advance for any advice. Cheers!


caver
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Re: Where to begin?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:51 pm

If you are looking for advice on the workshop tree, pictures wold be a big help.

But the most important advice I can give you is to be patient. Don't do too much at once.

There are a number of decent beginner's books on bonsai. One of the easiest to find at Amazon or one of the chain bookstores is Herb Gustafson's "Bonsai Workshop." Harry Tomlinson's "The Complete Book of Bonsai" (also avaiable in pocketbook size as the R&D publication, "Bonsai" is also a good one, written from a British perspective.

Harder to find these days at a reasonable price is Deborah Koreshoff's "Bonsai - Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy." It is one of the best books written on the subject.

It's a good thing that you've gotten a second plant to work on. First bonsai are often loved to death.

_________________
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: Where to begin?

Post  caver on Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:11 am

Jim, thank you for the reply. I'm really rather lost with the whole subject. There's so much I want to do but don't feel confident that I'm removing the proper growth and wiring properly. I've also got trees in pots, trees I'd like to dig up and pot, and I want to get more trees growing so I have something to work with in the future. It's been a while since I've felt so new at something. Really, right now I just need to learn the absolute basics of bonsai (and how to dig up and root trees I already own to work with).

I added jin to what I believe is a cypress tree tonight. I'll post photos soon to see what you guys think.

caver
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Re: Where to begin?

Post  handy mick on Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:07 am

There we are, bonsai hooked another! Rolling Eyes
Maybe look into another club in your area to get an extra hit.

Mick

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Re: Where to begin?

Post  AK_Panama on Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:24 pm

Welcome to our addiction!

I recommend getting John Naka´s books. You can also go to youtube and watch videos..go to the person´s channel and watch their videos in order:

http://www.youtube.com/user/chasnsx

http://www.youtube.com/user/GrahamWPotter

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Re: Where to begin?

Post  RKatzin on Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:43 pm

Hi Caver, ok, so join a club and get a book, all well and good, but I don't think that's what you were looking for. Something a bit more personal maybe? Ok, I'll kick down some stuff for you, simple things I figured out along the way of my own experience. First, the idea that you can make a bonsai from any tree. Yes, you can, but you should not. At least not until you've gained some experience working with trees that are well known to be good bonsai subjects. Japanese Maples and Junipers are the safest easiest trees for beginning with. One gives you quick results and the other a more long term project. Avoid trees with large foliage for now and most conifers, too. Apply the K.I.S.S. rule here. Secondly, insta-bonsai, or badda-bing, it's a bonsai! Badda-bad-bad-bad! I called it 'slam-dunk bonsai' and man it's a good way to kill trees! This ties in with the third thing I would mention, that is that nursery stock from the garden center or Walmart are good stock for bonsai. Yikes! I killed some many of those doing insta-bonsai, it's really embarrassing. I was just starting out, no books, no media, just an idea in my head and more money than sense. I'd seen bonsai and figured, 'I can do that'. You just get the biggest tree and chop and crop till it fits into the smallest pot you have, and it's a bonsai. They don't just go tits up over night, most have enough stored energy to shine for a season, maybe. A slow demise over the next few years is usually the case, bright green to pale green to yellow then brown, eventually black. Sad. I did everything bass ackwards. Take your time, take your time, take your time, save your money. Did I stutter? Nope! Take your time, only buy trees from reputable nurseries and only invest once you're positive you know the tree and what you're going to do with it. I'm looking for a cascade juniper or I want an informal upright tree. My M.O. now is this: when I find something I want, I get it and pot it up. I give it at least a season in that pot and then decide if it needs to be planted out, most do. I have the space so most new stock gets a few years out in the garden where all pre-bonsai training is accomplished, root pruning and basic branch structure. When the tree is ready it is dug out and planted in a training pot or box to refine the roots. Yah! That's a long way from insta-bonsai, but, although I still lose the occasional tree, I'm not killing them by the barrow load any more. I've got some good books and this great site and we're making progress pilgrim, now that we've slowed down to tree speed. Long enduring patience, this bonsai thing doesn't happen overnight. I hope that helps you get orientated on the road to really great bonsai experience. I don't agree with everything I see, hear or read, but I'm always looking, I listen to what's being said, and I read everything I can get my hands on.
Sincerely, Rick

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Re: Where to begin?

Post  caver on Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:55 pm

Hey guys, thanks a bunch for the replies!

Yeah, right now I'm in the process of getting super addicted and want to learn, learn, learn. Patience seems to be the key and since I'm just getting started, I don't have a lot! I'll post some progress here soon.

caver
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Re: Where to begin?

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:25 pm

Hi Caver

Oh I so remember what you are feeling. And still yearn for more 'input.' trouble is as the grey cells age, these days it is more output (memory loss) than anything else. Still, I do enjoy a potter with my Bonsai, and a natter or three with my Bonsai friends. Never thought I would stay the course really, but well, it does get you, quite firmly; good to see it appears to be doing the same to you.

I've books, magazines, videos (or is that DVD's); read and watched many; still read and watch (memory thing again ....sigh). Where was I? Oh yes .... right then, I can only say what made the difference to me (and we are all different). Originally I read and read books; purchased seeds, joined a local club (what a disaster that was); eventually after what seemed years (in reality only a few months), I found a local Bonsai nursery that had just opened. became friends with owner (just sort of happened), offered to help out if he needed any help in my spare time, paid to attend a beginners workshop; only about ten of us, spent all day on this workshop; went away and practiced, then did an intermediate workshop, then some time later (not sure how later....I've forgotten), did a one on one for the day.

That was the turning point for me. In-between I wrote down all the questions I had, and during the one-to-one the teacher answered all my questions by showing me the answer and made certain I did part of the work under his guidance. This was all because I soooo wanted to be able to 'do' Bonsai as well as I could within my capabilities.

Then what I read again and again made sense and I could for the first time see and understand what the books seemed to assume I might know.

So please, try if you can to sign up for a good workshop (again) run by a recommended teacher. It may not be the way forward for you, but it made all the difference to me.

Whatever and however you proceed, I wish you every success ... in what I can only describe as the one true thing in life I feel has been worth living for. Oh it is such a wonderful hobby, pastime, purpose, friend, fascination, etc etc this Bonsai malarkey Very Happy

All the best

Mike

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Re: Where to begin?

Post  Harleyrider on Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:29 pm

trouble is as the grey cells age, these days it is more output (memory loss) than anything else.
My dad calls it 'information overload' Smile

Harleyrider
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Re: Where to begin?

Post  fiona on Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:17 pm

Harleyrider wrote:
trouble is as the grey cells age, these days it is more output (memory loss) than anything else.
My dad calls it 'information overload' Smile
I've forgotten what I called it.

fiona
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Re: Where to begin?

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