One year of learning and collecting. Can’t wait for more. (reddit)

Posted byu/driley17
Houston Texas, Zone 9a, Beginner


level 1nbsixer·2hSt. Louis, MO, Zone 6a, Inter.

I am going to make a counter suggestion to those suggesting getting a lot more…and I hope others in similar situations take heed of this advice.

I think you are ready to start working on obtaining quality not quantity. In the beginning it is super tempting to just start getting more and more trees…the logic makes sense:

  1. You want something to work on while others “recover”
  2. You “gotta collect them all”
  3. You have plenty of “space”
  4. You are not sure what will work for you area and style of working trees so you get as many as possible just in case they “fail”

I get this…I have lived this…and I still think it is a valid approach when starting out. Now that you have more experience and confidence you can keep trees alive in tiny pots it is time to make a transition….being from more trees that are of lower quality to less trees of higher quality. The sooner you can make this transition the better you will be in bonsai. In fact, it is difficult to continue learning at the point you are in right now without better, more developed material. Some people never make this transition and always have what seasoned practitioners call “sticks in pots”. Others make it early and have better trees in 5-10 years than some achieve in their lifetime.

Benefits of better trees now:

  1. Learn refinement…you can not learn refinement until you are trying to refine. It is a completely different skill set than hanging branches or setting primary structure. Arguably considerably more difficult work as well.
  2. Better trees take longer to work on and maintain…if you wait to get better trees until you have gotten 25 trees – 3 years in a row then something will suffer. Either the better trees will lose ground or the developing trees will not get the work they need.
  3. You will run out of room and not have space to bring in better trees
  4. The money required to maintain 75 trees could be spent on a few nicer trees

Again, I speak from experience as someone that has nice trees that don’t get the refinement work they need because I am still trying to keep 75 other sticks in pots alive. The trees I work continually get better while the trees I don’t get around to slowly fade. Sometimes I do find a gem in the haystack…where something develops well despite the neglect….but as a whole they don’t get enough light/weeding/attention/work to improve at the rate they deserve.

Just my 2 (hundred) cents worth

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