A few weeks ago, I attended a Bonsai show. I slowly made my way around the different vendors, enjoying their pieces and talking to the various artists about their trees. When I saw a stunning little Boxwood at the third table, right in the middle of many tools and pots, it was in a large round mica pot. The Bonsai still needed development but had a nice thick trunk, tiny leaves and tons of potential. I could already imagine the perfect ceramic pot for this tree and how I would go about working on its ramification. After some time of admiring the tree, the vendor asked if I would like to purchase it. But being on a budget and only having entered the show, I thanked them and told them that I would still like to walk around and see what else was available.
I walked around and checked out the other vendors, their trees and tools for the next thirty minutes. I met some acquaintances, caught up on the development of some trees. I was already planning all the work I would do on the Boxwood I encountered earlier once I got it home.
I noticed someone carrying what I knew was the tree I was working on in my imagination from the corner of my eye. It was the same Boxwood, in the same mica pot, but in different hands, walking towards the exhibition cashier.
When I walked back to the original vendor to see if it indeed had been the Boxwood I was interested in, I noticed the empty spot on the table where the Bonsai had been before and knew I had missed my chance.
I've been doing this for enough time to knwo that you get it when you see a tree you like, and it's that simple. And there I was watching someone else pay for "my" Boxwood.
Unlike furniture, food, cars, umbrellas or any other manufactured product, I cannot order more of a specific type of Bonsai when I run out. I cannot just call the nursery manager and tell him to make me 500 more three-year-old Japanese Magnolia. I can and often do, but the wait is three years.
Once you have decided what type of tree you are looking for, based on age, stage and where you would like it. The next step is to look for that Bonsai or Pre-Bonsai. The biggest challenge is that you might not find that tree at the stage you were hoping for or maybe not even see that species. If you do, grab it, hold on to it, and do not make the same mistake as I had made.
In Bonsai, time is measured in seasons, if not years. A couple of dollars or months should not stop you from getting the Bonsai you want. The Boxwood I had seen at the show was a little overpriced in my mind. But now, having to wait potentially years before I find a similar tree makes me regret hesitating or second-guessing whether to buy it immediately or have a look at what else is out there.
Bonsai is art, and it is a living art form, an art form where the tree being the canvas constantly evolves and changes, but a piece of art nonetheless. So when you like a work of art that speaks to you, you get it. You don't wait for the artists to paint another that you may or may not want more.
Happy Hunting, and may the Bonsai of your dreams also be the Bonsai of your reality.