I’m excited – tomorrow I’m heading up to the largest bonsai exhibit and sale in Northern California – the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society’s 32nd Annual Show.
Coast redwood as displayed at the REBS 29th annual show
There are only a handful of events in the area that provide a good opportunity to shop for quality material and REBS is one of them.
What will I be looking for? That’s always a good question. Like just about everyone, I’ll cruise the aisles in the vendors’ area to see if anything catches my attention. The better question is what happens when I find trees that I like.
Typically these trees will need some work. A few might be ready for exhibition, but even show ready trees can improve with time. How then to select trees to take home? When I’m level-headed about it, I ask myself some of the following questions before deciding.
- Am I interested in addressing this tree’s problems?
No tree is perfect. Sometimes a few grafts are all that’s needed – do I have the patience to invest the time to get the tree healthy, graft and then develop new branches? If I think the effort is worth it, it might be a great purchase.
Sometimes a trunk has significant faults. Do I see myself planting the tree in a large pot or in the ground and letting it grow for several years to address problems with the curves/scars/taper on the trunk? If it’s a variety that’s hard to come by, the answer might be yes.
- What can I learn from the tree?
Large trees with lots of small branches can be great for practicing wiring. Black or red pines with crucial flaws can be great for learning how to decandle. Forgiving varieties like trident maple offer opportunities to learn about defoliating and wiring deciduous varieties.
- Do I/my friends/the world need more of this variety?
Sometimes the answer is simply yes. Anyone seen leftover chojubai at the end of an exhibit lately?
Flaws are flaws when we’re judging trees, but they can be good opportunities too. Tomorrow I’ll be looking for trees with flaws that I’m interested in addressing.
Of course, tomorrow’s also a great time to load up on supplies like pots, wire and soil that come in handy when repotting season comes around. Before heading to the event, I’ll check my wire, tool and soil supplies and see if there any specific pots I need so I’ll be all set when the time comes to get to work.
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