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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.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mid-America Bonsai Show 2013, Part III. Bjorn Bjorholm's styling demo.

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection
not when there is nothing left to add,
but when there is nothing left to take away."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

     I don't know the context in which Saint-Exupéry said that; but Bjorn Bjorholm's styling demonstration at the 2013 Mid-America Show was well enough done to bring this quote to mind!

Bjorn's demo tree was a Juniperus communis collected in the wild by Andy Smith. J. communis has the largest native range of any woody plant on earth, found around the globe in the north-polar and north-temperate zones. (I was surprised to hear Bjorn refer to J. communis as a "needle juniper:" I thought that moniker was applied only to J. rigida. But I learned that it is used for any juniper that produces only the awl-like juvenile foliage.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mid-America Bonsai Show 2013, Part II. Notes from the Exhibit Critique.

Bjorn Bjorholm discussing one of the bonsai during the Exhibit Critique.
     It bears repeating: an Exhibit Critique by the headliner, at a bonsai show or symposium, usually gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to learning more about bonsai. (It also is the event that usually sells out first, too, which says something.) I was fortunate enough to get a spot in the Critique with Bjorn Bjorholm on Friday evening, the 16th.

(For any who don't know:  an exhibit critique is concentrated teaching time, in which the master takes a small group thru the bonsai exhibit and discusses strengths and weaknesses of various trees.) 

It's impossible to deal with all the bonsai in the exhibit in 90 minutes, so the teacher typically picks one or two themes and discusses trees that illustrate points in those areas. Bjorn said he would focus on principles that could be applied to any tree or in any exhibit, and most of his comments fell into the areas of horticulture and display.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mid-America Bonsai Show 2013, Part I. "Bests of Show" (yes, that's plural.)

     Thanks to my wife's willingness to drive me to the commuter-train station Friday morning, I made it to the 36th annual Mid-America Show by mid-afternoon. That was early enough that I was able to enjoy some of the trees on display before the Exhibit Critique by the Guest Master, Bjorn Bjorholm. (My wife and daughter drove up to Chicago later, after school let out for the day.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"But -- it's August!"

     That's the natural reaction when I see a tree like this silver maple near my mother's home!
One of the oddball silver maples in the county.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nebari-Enhancement Technique Results, Round 2.

     Thirteen months ago, I applied what I've called the "flat-cut technique" to another Ficus salicaria that badly needed a better nebari. (I think a better name for the procedure would be "flat-bottom-cut:" it gives a more adequate idea of what's involved.) You can review what was done here.

Last Sunday afternoon I repotted the tree, and got a look at the re-grown root system. And to say I was pleased is an understatement! I cut off almost all the tree's roots last July -- here's what I found! :-)

Not only is there an abundance of new roots, but the trunk has a decent basal plate.
Here's a look at the underside. No roots had grown from the cut surface; they're all around the perimeter, which is exactly where I want them. More importantly, there was no sign that any fungus, mold or beasties had attacked the cut surface. Apparently the cut paste did its job well. (A little of it was still in place.)

View from below. Healthy callus (blue arrows) will cover the cut eventually, or so I hope.
When I repotted the tree, I was able to restore the intended planting angle, which is a very gentle slant to the right -- just enough to notice.

Blue-black spots on the leaves were left by birds that had over-indulged on ripe mulberries!
As far as I'm concerned, the flat-bottom cut technique has been validated, at least for Ficus salicaria. I have heard success stories from others who have used it on F. microcarpa, and I intend to use it on that species myself if the need arises.I also intend to try it in the future on other Ficus species, such as F. burtt-davyi. (I suspect F. benjamina would be a good candidate for it.) It may well work for other fast-growing species, such as Schefflera arboricola.

I have a soft spot for woody plants that "deserve a chance to be bonsai." That's usually the reason why I buy potential bonsai that I don't plan to keep in my own permanent collection: I get them started as bonsai-in-the-making (experiencing some of the joy of creation as I do,) and then find buyers for them. This is such a tree. By mid-September it should be thoroughly re-established, and I'll offer it for sale at the Fort Wayne club's Fall Show.

Unless, of course, someone comes along before that and makes me an offer I can't refuse! <wink>

:-)  :-)  :-)