Bonsai or Mallsai?

Recently over at BonsaiSite.com’s forums, someone lamented about the poor conditions of the bonsai at a Home Depot store that were dried out and uncared for.  Routinely, these are called “mallsai” because they are packaged for uneducated buyers to take home a tree from The Karate Kid.  Here’s my response to this and there are several other good responses in the thread:

The “mallsai” problem is really not a problem with the vendors. It’s uneducated people buying a tree when they know nothing about bonsai. If they didn’t buy, the vendors wouldn’t be there. A real bonsai nursery must not be able to keep up with the volume or price point, because Home Depot is not opposed to better quality at the same price.

So, basically, mallsai is a cheap test for every bonsai owner. Do you want to learn about this? Or is an ornament for your desk. There has to be vendors out there that would satisfy the ornament on your desk customers. And I wouldn’t want that to pre-bonsai trees raised with care. For the people that really want to learn about bonsai, it was a cheap entry fee into a world that is a lot more complex than they initially thought.

So, the system works. The main thing any real bonsai artist should be concerned about is easy access to good information. Books, online articles, etc. This should be one of the main objectives of any bonsai society that is struggling.

Ohh, anytime I see that someone “rescued a mallsai” I wince. You just promoted more poor quality bonsai trees to be put on the market. This is not unlike the pet world where people buy puppies at pet stores that usually get their puppies from puppy farms. Caring dog owner forums complain about these puppy farm sales all the time. It’s heartbreaking to see the conditions of these places. Just like I’m sure it’s heartbreaking to see the conditions that these bonsai are sold at.

Here is a link to the thread: http://forums.bonsaisite.com/index.php?showtopic=16835

Here is another good post on the importance of research before buying:  http://forums.bonsaisite.com/index.php?showtopic=7763

The sad thing is, if your reading this, then you probably are researching or you have already bought a mallsai and are now researching how to care for it.  I still think it’s important that when you start thinking about getting a second or third tree, that you do not buy these mallsai to “rescue” them or because they are cheap and readily available.  Buy from a bonsai nursery or step over to the nursery section at that Home Depot and buy nursery stock that you intend to develop into a bonsai over time.

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Welcome the American Bonsai Society’s newest member!

This week my wonderful fiance bought me a membership into the American Bonsai Society.  For just $40, I joined an association of bonsai artists spanning the entire North America.

Founded in 1967, the American Bonsai Society, Inc. is the pioneering national bonsai organization for North America, including Mexico, the United States, and Canada. As a non-profit corporation, our purpose is to promote knowledge of and interest in bonsai and to serve as a focal point for bonsai learning in North America. We provide a variety of educational and support services, as well as publishing a quarterly Bonsai Journal for the bonsai community.

Membership gets you an annual subscription to Bonsai: Journal of the American Bonsai Society, the ability to participate in the ABSForum (an email discussion group), discounts on purchases through the ABS Book Service, and the ability to participate in contests.  I’m still many years off from participating in any contests, but I’m glad to be supporting bonsai and already have been enjoying the articles and news on the web site.  I’m considering participating in the ABS Mentor program that helps you learn the art from professionals in the American Bonsai Society.  That experience will hopefully be for another blog though.  I encourage everyone that is serious about the art to buy a membership as soon as possible.
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Freeze Protection

One of the most knowledgeable people in the United States on bonsai and the propagation of trees is Brent Walston.  He runs a bonsai nursery in California called Evergreen Garden Works, has an excellent collection of online articles, and has a blog that he has just started posting to again.  He has recently written an article on freeze protection which we don’t have to worry about as much in the South, but this winter we have seen some temps in the lower 20’s often and early.  Here’s the article:

http://bonsainurseryman.typepad.com/bonsainurseryman/2009/01/freeze-protecton.html

Schley’s Bonsai article

An article about a bonsai nursery that I have bought from in the past has been put online.  It’s a pretty good article about the art and gives you a look into the bonsai industry.  Schley’s Bonsai is a store in Florida and can be a good place to order from to get some bonsai ready for Southern heat.  He also carries some great tropical bonsai.

If bonsai — Japanese for “tree in a tray” — are like children, Jason is a prodigious father. He’s tended hundreds of plants and trees from seed to bonsai, and nurtured many students from beginners to hobbyists. And he even used to carry pictures of his bonsai in his wallet, he admits.

http://www.mytopiacafe.com/detail/21744.html

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OT2 — Bonsai software

OT2 is software for keeping up with your bonsai collection from top to bottom.  It has tree and pot management.  It contains plenty of room to record events and make notes throughout the life of your bonsai.  It also has good picture management and botanical sheets for many different species of trees.  The best feature?  It’s free.  I highly recommend checking this software out to keep up with the progress of your bonsai trees.  Remember to always backup the information though, and I would keep a printed version as well.

Here’s some of the newest features:

  • Types of the species, events, pictures, shapes of pots, tree styles can be now fully managed by the end user (including deletion),
  • pot management should be fixed,
  • All views are kept synchronized when you introduce a modification in one of them,
  • possibility of having sheet facts for species.Sheet can be exported and imported through a xml file.
  • One can add several pictures at once (nice for left, right, back, front series) and integration with the graphic editor has been improved : choose some pics in the add pic dialog, launch the graphic editor from within ot2 , modify and save the picture in the editor, then the picture preview in the dialog is automatically updated.
  • Resizing values can now be configured in the pref menu,
  • added multi-core or multi cpu support for lengthy operation like adding pics,
  • navigation in the event view improved : you can choose also the type of events you want to see and open the tree history to which an event belongs to directly from the event view (the goal is the following : I decide, for example, to repote some trees, I open “to do” events for them, at repoting time, go to the event view, chose “to do” and “repoting”, you have the list of events, you click on one event and you get the history of the tree).
  • Assistants to export OT2 and its collection to a removable media and to import back into the main collection the modifications,
  • Better html export (the pic size can be choosen),
  • Assistant to export a picture to a determined file size : handy to post pictures in internet forum !

OT2 Screenshot

Download Here

OT2 Website