Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Workshop with Nagatoshi

A few weeks back I attended a BYOT workshop with Roy Nagatoshi. I brought in a contorted juniper I've had in the backyard for years. We stared at it long and hard:

Before deciding to do an approach graft with either kishu or itoigawa next February. The reasoning being that the foliage was too far away from the main trunkline, the branches were far too brittle to move into suitable position, and the foliage on this juniper was never going to live up to the interesting trunk line. So while I was ready to do major bends and surgery, the best bet was to wait. 

Good thing I came prepared with a small maple as a backup project. It's been posted before but here's how it came in. 

I fancy this tree reminiscent of the large trident in the national arboretum; one of my favorite trees of all time:

Roy says that while my tree was shaping itself up nicely, the structure needed major work on the internal branch structure. He made some FAST cuts and left this carnage.

I was hoping for more direction on this particular tree. He did say a new branch should grow to fill in the empty space on the right and I believe it. There are already buds emerging from the cut areas. This maple seems healthy happy and vigorous. Here's the image as was left that day. 

A few more shots of the event form the 23rd:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Casualties of War

Of about 21 collected hornbeam, I've had to admit defeat on the first 3. I'm quite sure these were some of the earliest collected yet I don't attribute the losses to the time of year but rather taking too few roots. On the first one, I was too timid with bare-rooting and noticed that the ball of roots that WERE attached were from the forest floor rather than the base. The other two were reduced too far. I could have babied them more and brought the root ball in closer over time, but I am short on space. Not so much patience. I've learned from my endeavor and I'm happy to boast an 86% success rate.

The photo shows the stumps on their way to the rubbish. What fine roots WERE attached have been pulled off during pot reclamation and 4-year-old exploration.

Everything else is pushing red buds and tiny leaves. Will update when I'm positive they have made it past their infancy in pots.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

National Arboretum Trip

This past weekend, Jess and I headed up to DC to enjoy some fair weather and the bonsai collection. We'll be going back up in May but this was a fun teaser. The benches weren't full as some of the trees were being worked on and/or recovering from repottings. Dancing Jackie Gleason was not on display for this reason. What a bummer! Enjoy some pictures.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Juvenile Maple Foliage

It's just my favorite. At day 2-3, the tender new leaves are beautiful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The hornbeam that's not a hornbeam

So Ursula, click, the giant hornbeam stump, has turned out no to be a hornbeam at all. The new leaves started opening and when they did they certainly did not look like a hornbeam should:

A post on later and I believe what I have here is actually an acer rubrum. Known for its long internodes, the only saving grace is the size of the trunk will help minimize the leggy appearance. The good news is that it's popping so many buds that I have to rub them off by the dozens! It seems to want to put out shoots near the base and off of the roots. We'll keep an eye on this one and others.

If I made this mistake once, how many other trees out there could be mislabeled. Time will tell.


Interesting Trunks on a few Nandinas

Finally got around to digging up a few nandinas out of a landscape. The trunks became interesting underneath the surface of the soil which was almost like a sandy clay. The root balls were pretty close to the trunks. I've never seen wood this color before. It's a bright yellow. It reminds me of that yellow character in Sin City.

This first one didn't look like much until I washed the soil off and it revealed this massive root spread:

This next nandina is about 4 feet tall stuffed into a tiny pot. It gives me a prehistoric, jurassic feel. Almost like a brontosaurus should be nibbling at the top-most foliage. I have it covered with sphagnum moss since the pot IS so small. The tallest trunk may end up bent to the right slightly. Not sure yet. While the previous trunk and nebari is more impressive, this is my favorite of the 3.

This root system was the only reason I didn't trash this one. Neagari style has never really spoken to me but up close and personal, this is a fun little trunk.

So I hope to keep them alive throughout the season. I haven't done a ton of research on this species as not much is out there. They seem tough as nails in landscapes so I hope that's a good indication of how they'll behave in a pot.

Until next time, cheers.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Makin' Babies

I've had a large Itoigawa Shimpaku bush in a 3 gallon pot in my back yard for some time now. Last year I took a few air layers but besides that it's been pretty much sitting around letting the wind blow it across the lawn. At a 2.5 diameter base, it was a good pickup for $35 last year. The nursery is either unable or unwilling to get more in for me. It's been posted here.

So I talked to Todd of Gardens Unlimited last week about propagation and he said now was the time to take cuttings. He advised taking them where the new growth from last year met the lignified wood. Fast draining soil and keeping them moist but not damp was also recommended.

Since I've heard of success taking larger cutting of shimpaku, as an experiment I also took some 2 and 3 year growth and planted them in the grow medium. This polystyrene container blew into my back yard during a storm about a month ago. I'm glad to have been able to put it to good use.

My inorganic mix in equal parts with garden soil

Different size cuttings soaking in rooting hormone

Cuttings with lower foliage removed

Larger Cuttings were scraped at the base before dipped in rooting hormone

Tray is in place under my bench where it will be clear of winds and receive partial afternoon light for 4-6 weeks.

I'm watering these by misting them heavily so as not to disturb the soil and tear any new roots that may form. If any of these don't turn brown in the next 2 months, I'll feel good about the rootage. They will be put into separate containers in a year. 

I hope to be taking some additional air layers from the mother plant this weekend. After this year I'll be more discriminate about cutting this juniper back. The interior is already much more open to sunlight and air since I received it and new foliage is growing closer to the trunk, where I need it. 

Fingers crossed. 

A Few Small Pots

Jess and I spent a good portion of last weekend at Bob and Todd's looking at their collection and watching my friend and mentor Mark repot his massive Live Oak (sorry for not taking pictures).

These are two pots we brought back; each with a story.

B&T have a few different greenhouses, one of which house hundreds of pots. On the left wall, they keep their private collection and on the right they have pots for sale.

We looked over the collection unaware that they were not for sale... Jess found this Chinese pot with an interesting glaze on it. It's not something I would have been drawn to but it was the ONLY thing she wanted to take home. When I asked about a sale price, we learned about the private collection and Jess' heart sank.


Later on I was walking with Todd and came back to discuss some juniper whips. Jess was standing close by holding her favorite pot in hand; smiling ear to ear.

"Look what Bob gave me!!!"

Those guys sure know how to make fans for life. I hope they enjoyed the Oatmeal caramel cookies she sent as a thank you. This one is about 9 x 6 x 2

 On the "for sale" wall I spotted this round pot at about 8 inches. More muted and more my style, I took it home for a low price and later found out that it was made by Nick Lenz. I think I bought a pot and wound up with an investment as the famous artist no longer makes bonsai pottery.

A great trip and a great bonsai weekend.

Since it's yet to be shared, here's a Dale Cochoy pot I have had for about a year yet haven't shared thus far. Also about 8 inches round. I just love the cracked walls and earthy colors.

So while I"m no connoisseur of pottery, I certainly know what I like and will continue to slowly collect pots going forward. I hope to have some trees worthy of these pots in the near future.