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Welcome to my bonsai blog!

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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Good Example

       I know some of you follow Ian Young's blog, "Bonsai Eejit." For those who don't, Ian, besides being an experienced bonsai artist, is a fine photographer. The nature pictures that he takes in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland, have prodded me to open my own eyes to the natural beauty that is all around me, right here in north-central Indiana.

(Also, those who have read C.S. Lewis' book Surprised by Joy may remember that Lewis, at

Friday, March 23, 2012

Serissas in Winter: My Latest Results

Last fall I wrote a post outlining my plans for two serissas (Serissa foetida) for the winter that's just ended. Briefly, both trees would be exposed to subfreezing temperatures, but not equally: one would be protected below 28° F (roughly -2° C,) the other below 24° F (-4-1/2° C.) Both are species trees, not members of a named cultivar. (To see that earlier post, click here.)

Overnite low temperatures in the mudroom stay quite consistently about 10° F warmer than the outside, and that's what I go by. However, there is a bit of variation from the expected, from time to time. Consequently, the second tree passed one nite when the temperature got down to 23° F (-5° C,) one degree lower than planned.

Winter is over. Both trees survived, and are happily pushing their spring growth. But there are visible differences between them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

81 degrees??

Two days ago, the high temperature here was 81° F (just over 27° C.) Yesterday's high was 77° F, and today the temperature got up to 73° F. (That's 25° C and about 23° C, respectively.) By Monday, the temperature is expected to get back up to 81°.

To put things in perspective: at this time of year the average high temperature here in northern Indiana is 47° F (about 8-1/2° C;) lows are typically just above freezing. Temperatures such as we've had in the last few days are what we expect in June and early July, not in the last week of astronomical winter! Thursday's and Friday's highs set records for their respective dates.

Daffodils beside our house.
It's not unusual here to see temperature spikes during the winter: one day, maybe two, with the temperature going 20-30 degrees higher than normal before dropping back to where it should be. But this is no one-or-two-day spike: temperatures have been well above normal for well over a week, and are expected to stay up for a while longer.

A neighbor's lilac, Syringa spp.
The local flora, of course, are responding to all this warmth!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring in the Mudroom

A little over three months ago, I put my half-hardy trees away for the winter in our unheated mudroom. (See this post.)

Thruout the winter, nite temperatures in the mudroom stayed consistently about 10° F (5.6° C) above the outdoor temperatures. Daytime temperatures in the mudroom would often get warmer than the outdoors by more than 10° F, especially on clear days with the sun shining thru the south-facing window. The effect has been what I wanted: the trees in the mudroom have had a milder winter than their hardy counterparts outside. And now they are having an earlier spring: as I write, all but the bald cypress have broken dormancy.

Half a dozen of them were due for repotting this year, and I spent some very enjoyable hours this past weekend doing just that. (Outdoors, too! ) Here's a picture of the weekend's haul.

Repotted on March 10 and 11.
From left to right, in back: Japanese maple (Acer palmatum,) hedge maple (Acer campestre,) and Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii;) in front, two trident maples (Acer burgerianum) that are probably 4 years old, and a trident maple rooted cutting (small green pot) from last fall.  The cutting is my first success at rooting trident maple.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Hints of Spring!

More signs of spring are popping up around here. I took a few more pictures yesterday and this morning.

Pussy willow outside Lincoln Elementary.
Magnolia; most likely Magnolia x soulangeana (saucer magnolia.)