Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BigFoot - Collected Hornbeam


I was wary about posting this collected stump until I saw some signs of life. I'm glad to be sharing this today!

I took a trip to the woods with some friends recently. While they each took home 10 hornbeam or so a piece, I was only on this trip to find something with some weight! I wanted something the size of Ursula approximately.

My buddy Thomas "Sensei" Sones, pres of our club,  found this one and he's one hell of a guy for letting me take it home.

It took the better part of 20 minutes to get it out of the ground. Might have been less if the reciprocating saw didn't die on me half way through the dig.

This dig was on the 15th of May so it's been just a month since collection. Usually, on acquired hornbeam, I like to bare root and put them into containers with a slightly more water retentive mix than my usual. This time I decided to try something a bit different. Because this is going to need to grow thick branches to match the trunk and I wanted to expedite the process, I went ahead and put this stump right back in the ground albeit in my backyard. It was buried on top of an old tile... Or was it an old piece of scrap wood. Regardless, it's in the dirt on top of something hard. 

There is a swollen base underneath those pine needles, characteristic of carpinus. 

I'm glad to report that yesterday I went out to check on its progress and was happy to see multiple buds popping up in multiple sites along the trunk line. From 2 inches from the top of the unsealed trunk to the bottom and in all different directions. I'm cautiously declaring a successful collection. 

Now once these clusters of buds elect a strongest grower, I'll cull the other surrounding buds to avoid overcrowding. This will be allowed to recover for no less than 2 years in the ground before I disturb the roots again. As this hornbeam has produced before any of the other collections, I'm wondering if returning it into the ground will help speed up it's transition from tree in the woods to bonsai in a pot. 

As always thanks for stopping by. 



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chop and Carve - Hornbeam

Here is today's victim. We call him Hornbeam 1.

It was collected well but left a bit tall in hindsight. I did get some buds to pop high up but it never made sense to me.

Part of the problem was that it produced branches all over, except on very long stretch of trunk halfway up:

Initially, I was going to carve the bejeezus out of this side of the tree and leave it tall. I'd been growing that leader for 2.5 years after all. 

My wife tells me that it needed to be cut in half. I agreed begrudgingly:

Okay, this is better. it makes more sense at this height. But here's where the story gets cloudy. It was like a trance. A trance fueled by power tools and eye protection. Seriously, if you carve without eyepro you're not acting very smart. Take care of your eyes. They are a bitch to replace. 

Repotting made sense at this time:

Healthy roots, happy tree. Again, this was in turface/pumice/grit. Being moved into my new akadama/pumice/lava/pine mix.

My 4 year old names this tree 'Slither' as a reference to the serpentine nature of the carving. More carving and repotting adventures to come. 



20 whips

I've a patch of ground in my backyard that is neglected. It receives dappled afternoon sunlight and direct sunlight as the as the sun slips past the horizon. It's been begging for a purpose and following last month's bonsai meeting, it finally got its day.

I picked up what I thought was 20 whips, trident maples, bare-rooted and wrapped in moist sphagnum. It turned out to be 18 bc 2 were twin trunked.. At $40, as they were all in there 3rd year, I considered it a fair price.

Here's what I ended up doing:

I put a dozen in the ground after threading them through old DVDs. This is the only time I've ever used an Adobe disc in my life.

One was planted into a PVC pipe filled with soil. I read about this somewhere over the recent years. The goal is to grow roots that are long and conducive to placing over a stone late on. Probably next year.

Finally, at the suggestion of Mach5 and the visual tutorial by smoke from bonsainut, I put these 5 through a board to form a clump style.

Why the planting through the CDs and board? Good question. The goal is to have the trident trunk swell from a good year of growing or maybe 2. At this time the base will begin to swell and effectively groundlayer itself. Leaving behind radial nebari and a swollen base. That's the plan anyways. I've seen it done online, now we attempt to recreate.
And now the waiting game. 


Thursday, March 26, 2015



Couple of accents, The goal is to collect and keep alive local vegetation to make interesting accents. These both came from the back yard.

This first one has been identified as a Red Deadnettle

This moss came from the back yard. I thought it looked pleasing in this small pot.

Both of these pots came from the little auctions at the club meetings. I swear it's an exercise in donating the same junk you won last meeting but it helps the club so it's worth it. 

Cheers, B

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Barberry Update

Some lovely little leaves:

Cheers, B. 

Hello u/amethystrockstar

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Workshop Trident Maple Forest


Last night we had our club meeting. About 30 people showed up to produce trident forests or observe. I grabbed a first timer to help me out and sat with two others. Trident whips were a plenty as we arranged our composition in our trays. This is my first go at it but I'm fairly happy with the results. The pictures came from a cell phone but it's the best I have until I take real ones when it leafs out. The buds are pushing right now. I expect a couple weeks before the next update.

Here's a fuzzy me and a fuzzy J.P. attaching whips to the tray.

And here is where we ended up. Topped with Sphagnum to hold moisture, this forest is living under the canopy of my deck, out of the wind.

Cheers, B.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ursula Update

This post features one of our first digs, Ursula. When it was dug we thought it was a hornbeam only to later find out it was a red maple. Easiest dig to date with no tap root to be found as it was growing in the mud by a stream.

Some History

This weekend the wife and I worked to carve down some of the heavy dead wood on top and get it into a smaller pot with more suitable free draining soil:

To remove this soil, I simply shook entire tree over my grow bed and the particles fell out quickly.

Not bad for growing in turface/pumice/chicken grit.

 I like to employ excellent help when repotting larger trees like this one.

If you can spot the pieces of my fingers left behind I'll send you a free bag of akadama.

Far from finished having dropped so many branches but this view gives an idea of where we are aiming with this material. 

Cheers, B.

Beginner's Workshop

This past weekend, our club put on our semi annual beginner's workshop. It usually boasts a fairly impressive turn out and this event was no different. The RBS president, Thomas, put up facebook pictures.

Your humble author will not be seen in any of these shots because fatherly duties were far more pressing. However, I did get to host a small beginner's workshop of my own with one of my young apprentices:

This is her only tree and I try to have her tend to its needs whenever possible. After using a chopstick to work the soil into the roots, she knows to water until it runs clear from the drainage hole. Now if only I could get her wiring skills up to par...

Ilex Unknown

I had thought this one had been shared before but it looks like not. This was purchased at a regular nursery as a lawn shrub. It was around 3.5 feet when I bought it and had an employee cut it down to height right there in the nursery. It was cut back hard, allowed to grow out, then cut back hard again. It been resting since last summer and this past weekend it was repotted and given its first rough styling.


Cheers, B