Years ago, in the far east (where the Art of Bonsai was born), ancient philosophies required a budding Bonsai Master to seek out their own bonsai in nature (also known as a “quest of self”).
These days, it’s much easier for the beginning (and yes, even the experienced) bonsai enthusiast to acquire their starter bonsai stock from an established grower or importer of established bonsai trees.
With a little patience (and access to a decent wooded area), it’s very possible and relatively simple to produce your own bonsai straight from mother nature.
A man who lives in New York City routinely produces his own Bonsai from Cuttings and Seedlings he acquires in Central Park – Further proving you can spend as much or as little as you want on your Bonsai stock and still produce great trees!
To many dedicated bonsai enthusiasts, it would be inconceivable that a true Bonsai could be created in the same way that one would create a common vegetable (i.e. grown in an artificial setting).
In Japanese, this quest for a Bonsai tree is known as “Yamadori”.
One of the advantages to obtaining your bonsai in this “traditional” way is that it allows you to choose the shape of the specimen you want, and obtain a tree that may very well be several years if not decades old.
It is difficult to find a tree which will (or does) conform to established Bonsai styles and much more difficult to correct the “defects” that can be inherent in trees already established in nature, compared to grooming and shaping a young tree from seeds or cuttings.
However, the great amount of satisfaction you get from finding a specimen suitable for Bonsai in nature (in my humble opinion) completely outweighs the drawbacks.
In fact, once you’ve been doing this for awhile, you’ll find yourself constantly scanning the ground around forested areas looking for your next “Yamadori Shitate”. Just be always aware of legal restrictions that may exist in these areas.
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