When do you have enough bonsai? When the space you have is full or when your water bill is through the roof? I think 50 is a good number. Reason for this is we are living busy lifestyle’s and there is not much room for anything else.
When I started, I wanted to fill my garden with bonsai trees. I wanted to be known as the person with the most trees in the club. I planted seeds, bought nursery stock, bought trees from other growers and collected trees from the neighbors’ gardens. I could not stop the urge of buying something new and transforming it into a beautiful “potensai”(Tree with the potential of becoming an bonsai). Now I have close to 200 bonsai trees and bags full of yearlings in my garden. I know I have too many trees and that I need to sell them, give them away and put them on auction. It’s easier said than done. Each tree has a story that reminds me of a part of my journey. With the recent water shortage in the Western Cape I am forced to consider reducing my collection. I cannot decide which of my trees to give away so I started to come up with creative ideas of saving water. I started harvesting rain water. There are many challenges around this as well, I was reminded about this with the prices of the water storage tanks.
As a direct result of this I have sort my trees in three categories’. The first one is those that I will be keeping, the second those that I will sell that are in good shape but I do not have space for them (selling them will at less give me some peace of mind that they will be looked after at their new homes). The third category is the ones that I will be giving away to young and upcoming bonsai artist to “play with”. You do not want to be gaining experience by trying new techniques on matured trees.
As you can see in the photos above I have a big collection of seedlings and yearlings. I do not have a set plan for them I just know that they may be good trees someday. This has been my way of thinking for a while now. I always try and make my way of thinking the right way so that I do not need to change my direction or philosophy. Recently I read an article of how others have fallen in the same trap of collecting trees and seeing the potential in the trees and not what the trees are now and how it will look in the next few years. The more I learn and the better I get at growing bonsai I have concluded that having more is not always good. I will rather have 10 good trees than 200 trees that have some potential. I enjoy the journey that each tree takes me on. I also enjoy looking at well-formed trees. Coming to a mid-way seems to be the right thing to do.
How will I be going about my hobby in the future. I will be keeping the trees that give me joy and captivates the imagination of the viewer. I will be adding trees yearly to my collection and pass on ones that have been formed. This is very difficult but I know this is the right way to address the future challenge. I will keep you updated on my progress.
My advice to you will be to not collect to many trees and to keep your collection as small as possible. Rather specialize in one type of tree that try to have all the well known tree species in your collection.