MagicDan
Full Member
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:55 pm
Location: Hilton, NY

The Value of Taking Lessons in Bonsai

Hi all,

Last year my daughter bought me my first tree, a dwarf Tsukomo Cypress. I didn't have a clue as to how to care for it. It was in November and I didn't know if I should put it outside or leave it inside. Didn't know if I should prune or not. I was so confused! :D

I am very fortunate to live in Upstate New York outside of Rochester which is the same place that bonsai master William Valavanis lives. Through an internet search, I found Bill. I gave him a call and took my tree out to see him. He was very gracious and told me how to care for my tree until the following spring. He also gave me a tour of his greenhouses. I am going to post some pictures in the Bonsai Gallery of his trees. I did sign up for Bill's introductory classes to bonsai. He teaches four lessons, each on a different style and then gives a bonus fifth class where you can do whatever you'd like under his guidance. Each week we left the lessons with a new tree.

The first tree we did was a Japanese Larch. The style was informal upright. After choosing my tree, I found the trunk to have a unique curve to it. It wasn't visible when I picked it out as it was still buried in the soil. Because of the curve, Bill suggested a cascade style.

This photo is after wiring. I did a lot of wiring in an attempt to flatten out the limbs and create the shape I wanted. Took a long time to do but was worth the effort.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_3191.jpg[/img]
Little close-up of the wiring

[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_3194.jpg[/img]

This shot shows most of my trees on a wooden rack that I display them on. The larch is in the upper left.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_3580.jpg[/img]

The next tree we did was a Japanese Maple in slant style.
First shot is the one (of many) I picked out.

[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_0820.jpg[/img]

After wiring.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_0824.jpg[/img]

Maple is in upper left.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_3581.jpg[/img]

Third tree was an Azalea.

[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_0978.jpg[/img]
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_0986.jpg[/img]
The azalea produced beautiful red blossoms.

Fourth tree was a Juniper. The original tree I picked actually has two trees in one pot. I cascaded the larger of the two and left the smaller one in the original pot. Later I transplanted it but it died.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_1201.jpg[/img]
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/100_1221.jpg[/img]

The fifth week was a bonus week and we could work on whatever we wanted to. Most of the class bought mini boxwoods. I brought in my Cypress and had Bill give me some advice on shaping, etc.
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/backbefore.jpg[/img]
[img]https://members.aol.com/pixatebay/pix/backafter.jpg[/img]

Since taking the classes I feel pretty confident to go out and obtain stock trees and "do my thing". I know I still have lots to learn but if you ever get a chance to take a lesson..... DO IT! :lol:

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Those are great photos showing the learning process, and just as important, a good reminder of one way to learn how to work with bonsai.

Also don't forget to join your friendly neighborhood bonsai society. My local group meets once a month about a ten minute walk from my home and it costs a whopping thirty dollars per year to join! :) I heartily encourage everyone to seek out and join your local bonsai society and be sure to spread the word about our forum. ;)

I'm interested in hearing about the learning process experienced by others, makes great inspiration!

MagicDan
Full Member
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:55 pm
Location: Hilton, NY

Bonsai Clubs

Since making this original post, I have had the opportunity to attend a meeting of our local bonsai club. My biggest problem is that they meet on a night I have to work late. :cry:
This group is very active meeting once a month. They bring in guest speakers to almost every meeting. The meeting I attended was one of the few that didn't have a guest speaker.
Members brought in a variety of trees for critique and suggestions. The more knowledgable members made a variety of suggestions and before you know it, a different tree emerged!
It was amazing how much you can learn just by being there.
I'm interested in hearing about the learning process experienced by others, makes great inspiration!
Let's hear from the rest of you folks. Does anybody else attend club meetings? What are you learning?

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