Saturday, 24 October 2015

Not Every Tree has to be a Show-stopper

2 July 2016:

When I first published this post in October 2015 I was quite hurt by some of the criticism that I received, but I've learnt to take it and try to improve my trees based on the comments I receive. My intention is not to reflect Reddit's bonsai group in a negative manner but merely to express my opinion on bonsai as a hobby.

For those new to the art of bonsai, Reddit's bonsai group is a great place to learn from more experienced growers. I wish I'd discovered it sooner.


24 October 2015

I recently joined a bonsai group on Reddit. It's a great place to learn about bonsai, but you really need thick skin if you're going to share photos of your own trees there.

I confess that I've shared a couple of my bonsai articles at Reddit under a cloak of anonymity and they've come in for some serious criticism. As someone who suffers badly from self-doubt, it's not easy to read what some of the experts have to say, but I need to evaluate the criticism I've received and decide how to deal with it.

Acacia Burkei

This little tree is still very much a work in progress. I first discussed it in my post A Tree with Dramatic Curves a few weeks ago. Sharing it at Reddit brought me a decent amount of views and quite a few likes, but the few comments it received weren't positive. My Reddit readers felt that I'd made a mistake removing the lowest branch and some didn't like the "S" curve.

After reading their comments I've starting to wonder about that branch too, but what's done is done and I have to work with what I've got. It's possible that the tree will still put out a new branch there, but either way it's not going to look this bare forever. It has already put out a lot of wild new growth since this photo was taken, but I'm not planning any more pruning just yet because I want the top to thicken up a bit first.
A little tree I grew from a cutting

I then shared this article I published at HubPages a few years ago - How to Grow Bonsai Trees from Cuttings. This one received a lot less traffic, but more discussion, and boy was some of it hard to take.  The experts insisted that the method I'd used was not the way bonsai should be done, but I admitted to some of my mistakes in the article hoping that people would learn from them and do better when they tried to grow cuttings themselves.

One of my Reddit readers called it poor bonsai while another went as far as saying my poor little tree was a "horrible bonsai". I accept that there's room for improvement and have been trying to get advice on how to improve it, but that hurt.

I admit that my trees aren't the best specimens, which is why I referred to myself as a Bonsai Artist in Training when I started this blog, but I still feel a sense of achievement for what I've done and I like my trees. At the end of the day I'm the only one who has to live with them, so the fact that I like them is all that really matters.

No tree is going to be appealing to everyone. I've seen some amazing trees on show, and some of the people viewing the show have felt they're ugly. What matters is that their owners like them. Not every tree has to be a show-stopper, and I doubt any of mine ever will be.

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