... that's the garden I visited. Shortly after moving here, I had the pleasure of attending one of your shows at the Botanical Gardens. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Ever since then I have been reading and researching bonsai. I strongly hinted to my wife that a membership to your society would be a great Father's Day gift.
Just a few months ago I started collecting pre-bonsai material. I've managed to get some air layers and try a few different things, but I'm obviously a beginner's beginner. I beg your patience and indulgence as I try to get a foothold in this art. So, my questions:
1. What kind of deciduous soil mix recommendations can you make?This is really my next biggest goal, aside from obtaining additional material. My goal is that by next year, I have all my material in actual bonsai soil. I think akadama is a little outside of my price range. What kind of locally available material would you suggest I use?
2. I've managed to collect some deciduous material, but i'm finding coniferous material difficult to come by. Any suggestions for collecting or locating material with suitably mature trunks?
3. Any advice for bonsai newcomers in this area?
Thank you in advance and kindest regards to you all.
Welcome to the Atlanta area, and welcome to art of bonsai. I hope your collecting is going well. As for your questions,
1. For soil, you'd get different answers depending on the person asked. If you want a good all purpose soil that is premixed, then the Monastery Master Mix from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit (2625 Highway 212 SW Conyers, GA 30094) is a good start. A 20 quart bag costs $40 or $50. It holds up pretty well over time, unlike Akadama, which breaks down after about a year or so. The Monastery no longer has an online store, but they still do have a brick and mortar store if you are able to make it down there. They also have a ton of other supplies and trees. It would be well worth the trip.
2. I am probably not the best person to answer this question; I'm still in the beginning stages of this art/hobby as well. As far as collecting trees in the wild, I would try to find someone that knows what to look for and group up with them on a collecting trip. You'd be guaranteed good material and learn a lot along the way. A second possibility is to scout out garden centers, but you'll probably only find a lot of junipers. A better option is to take a trip/s to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and/or Plant City Bonsai (5607 Cleveland Hwy, Clermont, GA 30527). Both of those places should have an assortment of trees in differing stages of development. A third option, that I highly suggest, is to attend the Atlanta Bonsai Society's annual auction in August. See our events page (http://www.atlantabonsaisociety.com/events-calendar) or the home page to stay up-to-date regarding this event. You should be able to find some suitable material there that hopefully you can bid on and win. It is also a great event to meet some of the members of the club and begin to ask questions about bonsai. If you are free that day, then I hope you will attend; it will be worth it.
3. I would try to find people of all skill sets and abilities to help you on your journey to learning and discovering more about bonsai. Practicing and getting you hands dirty all on your own using online sources such as forums, blogs, and youtube videos is a good start, and should hopefully give you some basic knowledge and skills. If you want to take that up notch, then joining the club is a good way to meet more experienced individuals who can pass down a ton of knowledge. There are several tree critique sessions, guests speakers, and workshops throughout the year that will be valuable in learning and refining techniques.
If you have any more questions, or need any more information, please feel free to ask. Sorry it has taken a bit to respond to your questions, but I hope I was able to assist.
Checkout my response above, especially points #1 and #2. In addition to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and Plant City Bonsai, there is also Full Moon Bonsai (4583 Savage Dr. Marietta, Georgia 30066). Any of those places should be a good starting point. You could also attend some of our meetings or events (see our membership and events page for details), and ask questions of fellow members. We, also, have our annual auction in August, which brings a lot of good material up for grabs if you want to try that route in a few months. I highly recommend stopping by the auction.