First "High End" Yamadori Purchase

Greetings Mirai Forum!
I have an awesome opportunity to take a reasonable sum of cash to Randy Knights yard for my first “high end” bonsai purchase. I’m confident in my horticultural knowledge (ability to keep trees alive), and my design and techniques are improving steadily. What I’m NOT comfortable in is selecting a tree that will make great bonsai, hence my posting. I’m looking for any advice that you may have for me. Also, I’m curious, is it better to go in having a clear vision of what I want (species, attributes etc.) in a tree, or is it better to be open to what speaks to me. Thanks in advance!



I would go for a tree or trees that speak to you without any regard to the species. One advise from Walter Pall that I can share with you is to resist the (sometimes unconscious) urge to go for trees that similar to other trees you already have.


Awesome Rafi,
Thank you for that input. In just the few trees that I have I can already see that tendency of familiarity. That’s very helpful! Thanks.

imo, if this is your first high end yamadori purchase, find a tree that is showing white tips of root growth…be gentle as you carefully search. Second, buy a species that you are comfortable with today. If you have pines and no junipers I would lean towards a pondy from Randy. Third, stay away from straight sections of trunk and major branches…you want twists and turns…personality. Fourth, buy the best tree you can afford and hire a professional to nurse it with you for the first year. Good luck!

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I think Rafi gave you excellent advice: go in with your eyes and mind open and watch for what speaks to you. From David DeGroot: don’t go in looking for a particular species or style, or you may walk right by a killer tree that’s not within your “box.”

Best wishes! I wish I could hide in your pocket!

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Thanks, and fantastic username by the way. I’ll certainly be sharing the experience here. I appreciate the input.

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Open your eyes, and buy something that speaks to you. I would stick to species you have good knowledge on as you dont want to lose an expesive tree, there is nothing more dishartening. When getting new material to work you are looking for “time saving”… we can all get a sapling to a mature tree given enough time. Is there a style you like but lack in your collection. For example a literati… in which can look for material you can work into this, so you would be looking for a long slender trunck line or feminine form base.Or perhaps you have a spicies you want to go for having seen a grrat stream on mirai… you need to look at the material constructively and tale your time, you will be looking at it for years!

Best of luck. Only wish I could go and buy one of Randi’s trees.


Perhaps both. I went seeking Ponderosa and am happy with what I got but also saw Limber Pine and Douglas Fir that were excellent candidates. Perhaps it should be what you are most comfortable with keeping alive?:wink: AND don’t suddenly go brain dead when you get it home and forget everything Ryan has taught us and over water or overwork this valuable new addition to your learning experience and life.

Lots of ggod advice to write in a piece of paper and post on the frig, especially DeGroot’s. Also, know the person from whom you are buying the tree. One thing I have noticed is that many buy trees thinking I can do this and that and this and that to the tree. Many times people buy trees with too many projects to get it to a good finish. Hunting is part of the fun.
Good luck.

My guide based on personal experience

Tree size what do I like - can I handle it. If it’s to large Can the tree be compressed will it be easy to, handle once in a real pot?
budget / cost there’s high end and then there is high end
how much of a project (1 year to 10 or more) and how much do you want to learn or are you buying more established
Don’t be afraid of buying a species you do not have confidence or experience in but be smart -, ask the right questions from the right people when you buy and understand how the tree grows. Is this a project for yourself - know your skill set consider working the tree with the very best professional you can find on a one to one workshop. It may not be cheap but it’s invaluable in the long term.

Have an idea as to whether you are looking for deciduous or evergreen, try not to limit yourself to a particular species or style as you may never find it. The tree will tell you

Important considerations solid base, movement, age, bark quality and live veins / movement deadwood quality and texture and natural features.
Ask how long it was collected buy 3 year + (I would consider 2 if it is a picture of health and I know how to water / manage tree and is sensible priceetc, - is the tree tied into pot correctly. If you are buying a pine tree that has not been worked look for density in the needles, I like to see 1, 2 and 3 year needles on a tree that has not been worked. (Strong tree)

Lesson learnt
The last yamadori Scots pine I styled with my professional i thinned it myself, removed all unnecessary branches ie those growing in incorrect place or underside of branches in prep ready for the workshop. As you wire bend and place branches one of those removed branches became very usable. That branch would have created a very full tree and an extra dimension

Has this come to fruition yet?
Get two! I did…
Photos of Mr Knights herd would be great…

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You mention tohire a professional. Doesn’t Randy give any insights and directions?

Yes, Randy will offer background and basic guidance on his trees but he is not going to be working with you throughout the year. He’s a collector not an instructor. For myself I would be very disappointed if I spent thousands of dollars on a high end yamadori and then lose it because because of improper care/guidance. Invest in a professional for at least the first year is what I do and glad that I did.

Well Chad 40 days since this question of yours. Dying to see what you got from Randy:crazy_face:?


I love Randy Crazy Face as a new nickname!! Haha!! :crazy_face: