Trees-shrubs potentially local to you, that if'n I was in pursuit of a new bonsai to get into training. Some mught come from my own yard, some from others remodeling (alla craigs-list or freecycle). Any alder, boxwood, blueberry, bald cypress, japan maple. Now a "Hime" Japan maple would make a better one, a bloodgood is often free.
Its OK to collect a tree and stick it in your own garden for a year or six.
A good generalization (#1) is never cut off all the leaves-needles on any branch, if you do that branch may not come back. (#2) as above, so below. If you only bring a few fine roots with your collected tree, only leave a few leaves.
This last does tend to create a rather baseball bat looking stump. Thats OK, you just have to stop there for this year. (see also only one insult)
(#3) Bonsai soil looks like a bag of gravel with a few bits of bark mulch drug through it. Big box stores sell cactus soil; which will do for your first tree in a pinch.
(#4) Soil for your to-become bonsai first if you are not planting back into a garden.
Think like a tree
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