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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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Time to Get Out and Shop!

     I think the garden centers here are all tied to the same calendar! At least, many of them have started selling off their nursery stock to make way for whatever they'll offer during the summer. (Maybe swim gear and beach chairs.) For bonsai people, that means an opportunity to acquire raw stock at bargain prices! 

Finding good bonsai material in a general-purpose nursery or garden center is not as easy as it may sound. The wholesale growers who supply such centers have landscaping in mind, not bonsai. That means they use techniques that encourage rapid growth, showy foliage, and the largest silhouettes they can get. Compactness, low branching, and interesting movement simply aren't among their priorities!

But it is certainly possible to find good bonsai candidates in such a nursery, if you're willing to put in some time and know what to look for. (That, in fact, is where I've gotten a majority of my material over the years.)

Three years ago I put together a "shopping checklist" for a club shopping trip to a general-purpose garden center. That checklist is published now on this blog as a stand-alone page, entitled "Shopping Checklist." (Original name, huh?) I invite you to check it out; click here to jump directly to it.

A few days ago I stopped at a local garden center that was offering all shrubs and trees for 75% off the list price. Most of their stock was under-watered, and showed it; but I picked up two trees, a small mugo pine (Pinus mugo) and a 'Densiformis' yew (Taxus x media 'Densiformis.') Both show drought stress, but, not to brag, I believe I can salvage them. (The bargain price does make the risk more acceptable, I admit.)

'Densiformis' yew, as purchased.

In my page on yews (here,) I mentioned that I want to help develop a "yew style," based on the natural look of ancient yews. I chose this yew, in large part, because it looks as if its basic trunk structure will lend itself to such an effort.

This tree's foliage is already bouncing back from being too dry. It will be repotted next spring, and I'll decide then on a provisional front and a planting angle.

Cleaned up a bit, and re-hydrated. No front chosen yet.

The mugo pine I intend to sell, once I make sure it will survive. I'm not interested in keeping it myself at this point; but this is a tree that deserves a chance to be a bonsai! And one of my bonsai friends is looking for a nice mugo.

If your climate is similar to mine, your local garden centers may well be offering bargains too. So get a copy of my checklist if you like, and see what you can find!

Happy shopping! :-)

Mugo pine, cleaned up and watered.

Tilted 15°, it should make a very decent semi-cascade.

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