Bonsai is never static - the trees evolve, the people on the scene change - some give up, some change direction and newcomers are always finding the hobby. Our collections will often reflect this too - maturing, evolving, improving hopefully and usually increasing in size ! pun intended
Obviously we have the small but growing (oh stop it, your killing me) bonsai sales side to our business and this is now very much entwined into my personal tree collection. It was 27yrs ago I bought a £5.99 chinese elm - then a month later a £35 elm, then a slightly bigger elm............that was it, hooked...many changes, houses, wives, friends, experiences....all different - but that 3rd elm is still here ......
This was the tree back then - another house, another life - blimey a bottle of 0:10:10, not my kind of approach these days - chemical fertilisers that are also unbalanced, no thanks. The grey mica pot still here too - a pot that has established many trees since
Human nature (mine anyway) is to push hard, aim to improve and to grab an opportunity when you can even if it means some sacrifices - bonsai is a great hobby to fit this ethos as there is always a desirable tree out there, a better example of a tree you may have or sometimes material that has to be secured if at all possible. Luckily we also have our personal tree collection as currency so upgrading is often easier as the tree you may have at home will be someone elses bonsai of desire - they then make a few sacrifices to get it and the merry-go-round turns another bit.
Last week the chance to buy a substantial tree arose - it has pedigree and has been seen and photographed / filmed by visitors to Masahiko Kimuras garden over quite a few years - A slanting planting of Hinoki cypress - here is a pic of my friend with the tree in the background
So now the challenging bit - buying it !
We are all now probably fed up with 'Sales'. the word means nothing on the high street or in the super stores as they run one into another and the sale price is the full price anyway. But the only way to move closer to the object of desire was to offer some good trees up for sale to a few people who would really appreciate them, at a price that was very fair and good enough to ensure they didn't dither about - I said "you snooze you lose" last week to one friend - and the guys who stayed very on the ball have achieved a few of there own objects of desire
To get even halfway close to the goal I put up for sale some of my nice trees and used the method I find works - i offered more nice trees up than I wanted to sell, let fate decide which ones went and which ones stayed. It took about 8 days until i called halt as the right trees were going to new owners - some will be maintained as they are, some will continue to be changed and refined but most important all will be appreciated
It was bye bye and onto pastures new for:
A lovely firethorn from Taisho-en Nursery
Top quality maple
My Elm - the tree from 27 yrs ago
Uk history tree - The Kiyohime clump from Dan bartons bonsai book
A simply beautiful trident forest
Admittedly there is a bit of space here now - but it means more time to devote to the trees that are left here - and we still have 60-70 trees in the shop sales stock to look after and 16 personal trees that are all on the path to becoming or remaining of showable standard.
The survivors of the sale were the junipers and pines, I'm not unhappy about that as one was in a very unique and never to be found again pot and the big red & black pines would be quite hard to replace - plus we have the 12 trees that were not included - they mostly show how my bonsai tastes are changing now - unusual species like bittersweet, more elegant styles reflected in the literati and deciduous trees, and the irreplaceable yamadori trees.
Objects of desire deserve sacrifice -
The Kimura Hinoki rock planting looks secured to stay in the UK for a while longer - although it is a tree that will sell one day to someone who desires it - it has been bought to remain on the open market and not to be shut away and lost for ever - the nice thing is we can share it at a few carefully chosen bonsai events in coming years - who knows - we may do a flower show or two ! just for a change of scenery once in a while