Welcome to my bonsai blog!

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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Fig's New Home

I started trimming, then remembered to get a "before" picture!
Remember my little veldt fig (Ficus burtt-davyi) that I planned to repot in February? (See here.) With one thing and another, I didn't get to it until yesterday. The tree didn't suffer: it continued to enjoy the conditions in the Crate, so much so that both top and roots got pretty shaggy! Roots were dangling over the pot sides and down thru the grate, and some branches were starting to turn lianescent: growing like fast woody vines. F. burtt-davyi will do that, I've discovered, in high humidity and with plenty of fertilizer.

Foliage trimmed. (Forgive the picture quality.)
The new pot is this tree's permanent home. It was purchased from Sara Rayner of Sara Rayner Pottery (link,) specifically for this tree. Sara recommended the color, and when I saw the tree in the pot, I almost took a step back: she was right! This pot's size fits this bonsai well, too. (I  learned a bit more about estimating pot size this time around; I had feared this pot might be too small.)

The mix is a 5:3:2 blend of scoria, composted bark, and Turface; all particles are between 2 mm. and 3 mm. in size. Uniformity of particle size makes for better aeration, and makes it easier to discern the effects of any changes in watering or fertilizing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Excited!

     Two days ago, I discovered pollen strobili developing on my large ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa). Strobili (singular strobilus) are to gymnosperms what flowers are to angiosperms: the plant's structures for producing seeds. The reason I'm delighted is that the presence of strobili (and later cones) means that a pine is thriving and very healthy. And this ponderosa, a gift from my wife, is the pride and joy of my personal collection. :-)

They look like little pineapples, but they are strobili, developing on my ponderosa pine.
This tree is a yamadori, collected by Andy Smith of Golden Arrow Bonsai in March of 2010. He estimated its age at 78 years at collection. Andy is a professional forester with a great deal of experience, so I accept his age estimates. (A link to his website is provided under "Vendors I can recommend;" he has some fantastic native material.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My First Successful Root Cutting!

New hedge maple (Acer campestre) from root cutting.
     Just over a month ago, I repotted a hedge maple (Acer campestre) and, in the process, removed a large, unsightly root. I decided to pot up that root as a root cutting, as I described in this post. About a week ago I noticed some green coming up thru the sphagnum mulch on top of the soil. That root cutting now has a nice stem and set of leaves! :-)

I'm going to leave it in the Crate with my tropicals for few more weeks, until danger of frost is past. Then it will go outside for the summer.

I've got a lot to learn yet about Acer campestre. But from what I've learned so far, it seems to be able to handle our winters, to be prone to low branching, and to be tolerant of heavy pruning. It may

Friday, April 13, 2012

Improving a Fig's Surface Roots

     About three years ago, I came across a method for developing a shallow, well-distributed nebari on a Ficus. The technique, which was new to me, was suggested for correcting an unsightly root system.

Cut off most or all of the existing root system.
The procedure is simple, but it is also fairly drastic; it should only be used on a healthy tree. Take a saw and cut across the width of the trunk, as if you were cutting a sausage in half cross-wise. Make the cut just below the point where you want a new nebari to develop. You can leave a few existing roots or not, as you choose.

The tree is then treated as a large cutting, with high humidity and good indirect light. With good care a new,  shallow root system will develop; and if all goes well, the new roots will be well distributed around the trunk base.

Not long after I learned of this approach, I bought a young willow-leaf fig (Ficus salicaria) from

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Dad's Purchase

     Sometimes, a father will plant a tree when a child is born to him. Given that I'm such a bonsai enthusiast, I guess it's no surprise that when my daughter was born, I bought a plant for bonsai to mark the occasion!

The tree is a shimpaku juniper (Juniperus chinensis var. 'Shimpaku'.) I've always thought of it as "her shimpaku" because of my reason for buying it, even tho it's actually mine. (She does have one tree of her own; see this post.)

"My daughter's shimpaku" before repotting.

This tree was one of the ones that (I am thankful) survived the far-reaching transitions in my early years of marriage. But altho it survived, it suffered some significant damage. Some of that damage was due to "forced neglect" during those years; some of it was due to my ignorance, at the time, of proper juniper care. The primary trunk died, leaving just the secondary, horizontal trunk. And much of the original root system died, leaving one major root on the back of the tree and a few lesser ones.