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BarnOwl
07-08-2008, 04:13 PM
I'm just getting into into it and would like to get your inputs on the subject, as well as some good online sources for pots, plants. tools, fertilizer, etc.

All suggestions welcomed.

I don't know what got me thinking about this, but if you care to look into it yourself , there are loads of books available. Yesterday, from my local library I got:

The Complete Book of Bonsai - Principles and Practice, by Peter Chan

IMHO,this isn't really a How-To book, but more a celebration of the art. The pictures of various bonsai (all in the author's collection at the time) knocked me out. Imagine, for example, 21 tiny Japanese white beech trees, all of which occupy a width of just 35.5 inches!! See page 11.

The book abounds in heart stopping photos, and not all are plantings. The Chinese also like rock bonsai and the few examples I found in this book are...well, I kinda hyperventilate just looking at them.

At amazon, I bought The Bonsai Workshop...

http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Workshop-Our-Garden-Variety/dp/0806905573/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215549410&sr=1-1

...hoping this book will nudge me nicely along the Bonsai path.

If you're an amateur like me, Google 'bonsai videos' for lots of free videos to watch, most of which are poorly shot, unfortunately - but they're free, some are instructive and a hell of a lot better than nothing.

And this morning, I bought a Bonsai at my local garden supplier. It's a Japanese Juniper which my research tells me is a good tree to start with. The tree trunk comes vertically out of the soil to about 3" and bends to roughly parallel to the ground, extending for about 10".

Kinda like this...

http://www.bonsaiboy.com/catalog/media/a1003.jpg

...but not quite as good looking, I suppose.

Anyway, I look forward to your responses.

Gatopescado
07-08-2008, 05:29 PM
I was walking down a street one night in San Francisco and went past an elderly Asian couple looking in a store window. The gentleman said something like, "Oh, look at that nice Bonsai tree".

His wife starts whipping up on him about the head and neck with her purse, screeching, "DON'T SAY BONSAI!!"

I've often wondered what that was all about, but probably know deep down.

BarnOwl
07-08-2008, 05:35 PM
I was walking down a street one night in San Francisco and went past an elderly Asian couple looking in a store window. The gentleman said something like, "Oh, look at that nice Bonsai tree".

His wife starts whipping up on him about the head and neck with her purse, screeching, "DON'T SAY BONSAI!!"

I've often wondered what that was all about, but probably know deep down.

Maybe she was thinking "Banzai!" which I'm told is a Japanese war cry. Anyway, in WWII movies, that's what we heard the Japanese soldiers shout, often when they charged to almost certain death.

teela brown
07-08-2008, 06:33 PM
Yes, the word "bonsai" is pronounced "bone-sigh". My mother practiced this hobby extensively back in the 70's, and the first thing her Japanese teacher taught his class was how to pronounce it correctly.

She had a whole backyard full of the little trees in pots when I was growing up, and entered a few in competitions.

Unintentionally Blank
07-08-2008, 06:45 PM
Trees or kittens? You have to be clear about these things.

(google bonsai kittens. I am NOT. Providing. a. linky.

Acid Lamp
07-08-2008, 06:54 PM
I've cultivated the little buggers for about 8 years now. I don't know your location, but I'll give you a few good iron-clad tips that will help ANY novice along. I learned all these the hard way.

1. If thou thinkest that pot is deep enough, Thou art wrong.
Always.
I mean it.

Get a deeper pot that you feel that you will need, and fill it up with good, proper soil for your first styling and root prune. This will help with the water retention and give your plant a chance if you forget your watering regimen.

2. Thou shalt Water twice a day unless it rains.

Outside of the winter, your plant will want water, and dry roots are the surest way to terminate a promising plant. If you can't be arsed to do this invest in a watering system and timer. Sure it costs a few dollars but you'll never lose a plant due to absent-mindedness, busy evenings, or any other of life's little problems.

3. Osmocote is as a god unto you.

It is the time release fertilizer choice of pros, and it is your choice too. Thou shalt buy it, use and love it. Don't skimp, it's not that expensive.

4. Thou shalt hold off pruning until the proper season.

Other than a little snip and a hair cut here and there, prune when you ought to, doing otherwise seriously stresses your plants.

5. If thou makes thy home in a hot climate, thou shall return that juniper and pick something more appropriate to thine climate.

Start with local plants, natives if you can. ANYTHING that grows a woody stem can be a bonsai. Weeds, shrubs, trees, herbs, etc. Try out cheap stuff.

BarnOwl
07-08-2008, 07:23 PM
I accept all 5 of your Commandments, Acid Lamp, and will live by them.

I live in Connecticut, so I think Juniper is compatible. Right?

And your idea of using cheap local stuff for rookies like me is excellent.

Thank you!

Acid Lamp
07-08-2008, 08:00 PM
You will have little trouble with your evergreens way up there! :) For you, I'd recommend any native evergreen, as well as hardier local maples, ( no Japanese just yet) junipers will do nicely, you might even want to try a crab-apple too.

Since you are so northerly, remember that your plants will all want that long winter dormancy, and that bonsai is going to be an outdoor hobby. Enjoy your plants in winter, they look ethereal and otherworldly covered by the snow.

If I remember correctly, Connecticut has some mountainous regions that you may want to peruse for good wild collected specimens. Most of those unreal plants in that book started out as collected. Other good sources include calling around to local landscapers and offering a small "finder's fee" for every call they give you to collect someone's old yard plants. I've gotten some of the best material that way. Get buddy-buddy with a local nursery, preferably not a commercial chain if you can help it. They almost always are willing to put aside interesting plants for you if you agree to come in at least once a month and pick through them.