I went to my local nursery today to hunt for a zelkova. No luck there... cheapest they had was $200, which is just a tad outside of my budget (by about $190). I got a lead on another nursery that should have them in stock, though, so I'll be going over there next weekend for another shot at it.
The woman at the counter was intrigued by the idea of bonsai and asked me what else I could bonsai... my reply ("Well, a bonsai is just a tree. Anything *can* be bonsaied, but some are better than others due to leaf size, trunk width etc.") garnered a "well... would you like to look around our sale greenhouse in the back? Everything's in pretty sorry shape, but you're welcome to take whatever catches your eye..."
So I did.
Walked away with a Japanese holly with great nebari that was buried under the soil ($1), an English laurel that I'm not sure I can do much with, but that has a great double trunk/nebari ($1), and a boxwood that had been left out in the sun and had some dieback ($1).
The laurel needs pruned back hard. The boxwood has *plenty* of green wood, even on the dead side... I pruned out the deadwood, but other than that I think it's best to leave it alone for a while in partial shade, so it can recover. Haven't tackled the holly yet, but can't wait to get a better look at it.
Only problem is they were out of turface and so am I, (and they're the only ones that carry it), so I'll have to wait to repot till next week. I hate repotting this late in the season, but all three are growing-out-of-the-pot rootbound and the soil is abysmal... I think it'd do more damage to leave them in that muck than to repot now.
Moral of the story - three new (potential) trees, $3. Nurseries are great.