Marsman
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Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm
Location: Coventry, CT

Hard Lesson to Learn

First off, I’m very new to bonsai. (Ignore the post count, it means nothing.) I’ve been studying bonsai for just under a year and although I’m very exuberant in my interest in the art form, I am still a neophyte. This was made very evident when I attended a workshop with Sandro Segneri on Monday, 5/17/2010. I showed up with two junipers that I had purchased at a local nursery. He looked at them and chose one and said we’d work on that one. I could tell by the look on his face that was wasn’t impressed with either of them. Then I looked at what the other people had brought with them, and I felt my heart sink. I had hamburger and they had fillet mignon. But, it’s what I had to work with, so what could I do? First, he had me cut down the nursery pot to the soil line, then work around the trunk to discover the nebari. Well, there wasn’t much there. Another disappointment. Next, he had me use a brush and sandpaper to remove the old bark until it was down to a soft, cinnamon color. I had never done this to a trunk before. Next, we removed some of the lower branches and made jins and carved shari below them. I had never carved shari before. Next, I wired the secondary and tertiary branches, clockwise or counter-clockwise based on the direction they were to be adjusted. I didn’t know there was a way to wire based on the direction of the movement desired.

So, as you can see, I learned quite a bit from the workshop. I felt like a first grader attending a college course. Sandro was great, and he took the time to show me how to do the different tasks and didn’t make me feel like I was wasting his time. One of the most important things I learned was not to waste money buying garbage trees. I’d go and spend $10 here and $15 there to acquire what I now recognize as ugly sticks in pots. No taper to the trunks. No nebari. No character at all. I went home and looked at what trees I have collected over the past year and wanted to throw it all on the compost heap. I didn’t, but surely wanted to. The one juniper I have that has any real potential is still on the cusp of mortality after being gathered from my friend’s yard.

Now, I made myself a promise. No more junky trees. Instead of throwing my money away on mediocre stock, I’m going to purchase decent pre-bonsai trees that have real potential. I’ll keep my other trees around to fiddle with, but no more wasting my time acquiring low-potential trees.

I felt like I grew up a little bit this week.

[url=https://s956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Sandro%20Segneri%205-17-10/]Link to some pictures from the workshop and lecture.[/url]

josh1812@live.com
Senior Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:12 pm
Location: Florida

Hello Marsman in the past month a similar experience happened to me. I went to a show near Miami and came back home. I sat for almost an hour just looking at my trees and asking myself is it worth it? I in that second had the realization that you had. Heres a link that I found very helpful in this "phase" of ours.

https://www.orlandobonsai.com/?page_id=44
HI

Marsman
Green Thumb
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm
Location: Coventry, CT

Great link! Thanks for sharing it with me.

TomM
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Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

Mars, I love your post. I love your honesty, and your insight. Many of us have had a similar experience. You put it into words better than most of us can.
That said - I want to forewarn, but not discourage, "Just wait til Nick Lenz gets his hands on you !!!" No, seriously. I'm so glad you are seeing the light and it will make you a better bonsai activist. Go boldly forth and learn much as you go.
Tom

BTW - anyone seen, or heard from Victrinia lately? She would enjoy this thread immensely.
Last edited by TomM on Thu May 20, 2010 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Marsman
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Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm
Location: Coventry, CT

I'm truly nervous. I have Nick's workshop this weekend and I have nothing to wear!, I mean, nothing to bring. What am I going to do? Should I just kill myself now or what?

I can see it now...

"Oh hi, Nick. Here's my tree I'm going to work on."

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/dcedc82c.jpg[/img]

"What? Don't like it? I also brought this one."

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/52884ce5.jpg[/img]

"What do you mean 'Get out'?"

Sad Note: That bottom one was the very first tree I collected from the wild.

TomM
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Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

Mars, I can not wait for your 500th post. I am on the edge of my seat.

But hold on, I see a a clue in your photos that concerns me. If you are using those saucers beneath your pots they might be holding too much water and the water could be keeping your soil too wet, not draining away properly. REMEMBER - the #1 killer of bonsai is root rot. Is that killing your little trees?

tomfisher
Full Member
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:24 am

but i thought having those saucer things underneath was a good thing or is it only bad when the water is touching the holes in the pots?

derkap10
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:15 am
Location: Mississippi

Hi Mars,

Like you I am a neophyte (for the second time). Where I live there are no bonsai clubs. No workshops (although I'm thinking that next year I may plan my vacation around the big weekend at Brussels). While I hate missing the opportunity to learn from some of these awesome artists I don't hate feeling like such a noob in their presence. Although it should be noted that even the great masters were once clueless noobs themselves. I would bet even Sandro and Nick have killed a few trees in their time. I also don't think there's such a thing as trees with low or no potential. Trees are not made out of stone or metal. They grow and evolve. Using good stock certainly helps to speed the proccess along but wouldn't it be nice to start with something substandard and some years down the road be showing off an awesome bonsai and bragging about how you turned a 'nothing' into 'something'? People see my trees and say "You do bonsai?" and I say no, I'm a 'student of bonsai'. I'll keep learning in the hope that one day I'll hear an old Chinese man telling me that when I can walk the length of the rice paper and leave no trace of my passage then I will have learned :lol: .
Happy little trees!

TomM
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Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

Tomf - you're right. The saucers become a problem if water collected in them gets deep enough to pass back thru the 'drainage' holes and keeps the soil too wet. And I may have assumed incorrectly that Mars was allowing that to happen. :oops:

derkap - too bad you don't have a club nearby. I'm a serious promoter of bonsai clubs. I was in that position 5 years ago - so I started one. Try to get to Brussel's Bonsai more often. If they have a community bulletin board you can post notices seeking to find others from your area who might hook up with you to form a new club or study group. That's what I did.

And then at least you have us here - your online club at your fingertips !!! (24/7)

You have a good outlook.

TomM ---- Mohawk Valley Bonsai Club

Marsman
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Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm
Location: Coventry, CT

Those saucers were from my 'early period' when I didn't know any better. No more saucers anylonger. As I've grown, I've found much more ingenious ways to kill my trees.

Nick Lenz workshop tomorrow, I'm so friggin' nervous I could just . . . :shock:

TomM
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Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

Hey Mars, Somehow I missed #500 - where was I ? - Where'd it go? Damn.
Maybe it was the mossy one over yonder?

You're nervous? I'm sweatin' bullets, & I won't even be there.

Have some fun !!!

tomfisher
Full Member
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:24 am

i really want to go to a club but i don't think there are anywhere near mine =/ and not having a car wouldn't help XD

Marsman
Green Thumb
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm
Location: Coventry, CT

I had a great time with Nick Lenz today. He's a great guy and we hit it off well. There were only two students there, so I got a lot of time with him. The trees I had available to bring with me were pretty much crap, but we all had a chuckle and did the best we could with them. Wonderful day. :)

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Nick%20Lenz%205-22-10/Nick-Lenz.jpg[/img]
Last edited by Marsman on Tue May 25, 2010 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

derkap10
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:15 am
Location: Mississippi

Feel the full weight of my envy Mars :lol: . Nick is a true artist and a master craftsman. I hope you pestered him with questions as much as I would have. I recently acquired a bunch of baby Scheffs that I was going to experiment with some 'root-over-rock' stuff with. But becuase of Nick's work I feel that I'm not just limited to 'root-over-rock'. I'm thinking 'root-over-small sculpture' or 'root-over-object of some kind'. Nick is one of those who lets you know that tradition is fine but don't be afraid to break the mold and try something different.
Happy little trees!

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