Monday, November 5, 2007

Cold weather

It is 6 degrees Centigrade outside tonight. This is about as extreme as any tender plant can survive.
Get on your winter protection!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Russel Nursery will get us plants!

Russel Nursery is willing to order us seedlings from Heritage Seedlings. If we pre-order plants through Russel Nursery, then we don't have to worry about permits and brokers and too much volume.

The Heritage catalogue is posted on the webpage under featured websites. On page 40 there is a list of common bonsai species that Heritage grows.

At the meeting there will be someone collecting pre-orders for Russel Nursery/Heritige Seedlings. The final prices will be 3 times the wholesale price plus tax. This springs' $5.99 acer buergerianum (trident maple) will be next spring's (if pre-ordered) $3.75 acer.

There are some conditions. They cannot bring in Oaks or Pines this year. As well, they must order in bundles of 25. Yes, this means dispite the reaserch you did into the ginko "chi chi," unless together we get 25 ordered, there will be no ginko "chi chi."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Whack and Chat

Just a reminder that all members are encouraged to bring trees to whack, and to chat it up. The wack and chat is not just directed at new members and their new vegrigated willows.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Going out of business

Four seasons nursery on McTavish, just off the Pat Bay highway, is closing down. Her plants are 40% off.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back, now that I'm not watering

I think the title says it all. With the weather starting to turn, I am saving time by watering less. It is time to start reading bonsai books and surfing the web for bonsai stuff. Check out Salvatore Liporace at You may never be the same.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Poplar Whips and Wire

I have poplar whips which I wired in spring, before full bud break. I just removed these wires this week.
One of the whips is very wire scarred. I think it is going to go into the garden to grow to a point where its currently mangled trunk won't matter.
The other tree is fine. I took off the wire at the perfect time to keep the marking to a minimum, but the tree is holding its place.
The tree has grown one set of branch about 5-6 leaves before they were trimmed to two; then they have budded and leafed but are only at 2-3 leaves.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wire off Chestnut

Took the wire of my horse chestnut today. The wire was just starting to dig in. What I liked was that the branches stayed where they were wired, they did not spring back.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bonsai Haircuts

I have spent time trimming my bonsai lately. You know - cut back to two leaves, or leaf sets. With the juniper I just pinch some growing tips whenever I walk by. It is what keep the tree small.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Watering Constantly

Since last Tuesday, when the temp. hit 24 degrees Celsius, I have been watering daily. My bonsai soil dries out enough to water daily. These trees I will have to move into more shade as the seasons pass. The plants in nursery soil have to be watered daily even though they are not dry. If they are not watered daily when warm, it is difficult to re-wet them. Watering them so much causes worts and mushrooms to grow - because of warm, wet soil. Guess what else grows well? Bacteria and molds which kill trees. But it is that or a sure death with dehydration.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Trees on sale

At cannor nursery next weekend - the 9th and 10th. 20% off everything in the store, both locations.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jinn and Painting

In detail painting, one often uses different toned colors in a layering fashion. The most obvious example is painters who make ceramic pots look like old and rusty metal pots. The use a dark red all over, then several lighter reds - applied less over the pot then the previous layers as to see the previous layers, then the silver on top of the reds - to make the red look like rust and the pot like metal.
So in jinn, especially on big jinn, why don't we start with some darkened lime sulphur, and finish with the whiter?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lime Sulpher-ing Jinn (deadwood)

I applied lime sulphur today. It didn't smell as much as I remember.
The sulphur kills molds and spores which cause decay in the wood. It also makes the wood unpleasant to insects.
The lime, combined with the the sulphur, kills everything else by corroding proteins.
the lime dries to a nice white color, like old dead branches.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Confusing Fertilizer

People are often mystified by plant food. There are three numbers on all fertilizers, like this 10-10-10. These numbers always stand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These correlate to leaf growth, root growth and plant health.
If one is diligent with their plant, one can feed one's plant any plant food whatsoever.
However, if one is poor at plant care, even a perfect nutrient mix can weaken or kill a plant.
Fertilizers are made of salts, which dissolve in water. The plant is salty too, usually more so then the nutrient solution. When the salty water touches the salty plant, all the water involved (and the nutrients) go to the saltiest area.
When the plant is salty, then the plant absorbs the water and nutrients.
If one is over feeding one's plants, then there will be an accumulation of unabsorbed salts in the soil. One day this accumulation will result in the water/nutrient solution to be saltier then the plant. In this case the salty water inside the plant will be drawn outside the plant by the salty water/nutrient mix. When this sad thing happens, the plant will dehydrate, even though it is surrounded by water.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gardening Literature and Sick Plants

This is a rant.
The Otho professional garden problem solver, one of the largest books (and most comprehensive) for solving plant problems, suggests this as a remedy for juniper root rot.
"When replanting area, use plants which are resistant to root rot."
When one is talking about their 20yr juniper that was grown from seed, this answer is utterly useless.
Another fellow, on the internet, discussed a maple disease he called tight bark syndrome. He claims that it is not a well know disease, because people who have infected plants tend to discard them. He argues that as long as people consider maples cheap and easy to replace, then maple diseases will remain common.
These are problems the plant health professionals are not interested in because common tree buyers don't love their plants - they love things about the plants.
We love our plants.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hardiness of Boxwoods

I have reduced a 3 gallon (8" tall, 12" wide) potted boxwood (16" bush diameter) to a 6.5" tree with a dozen leaves, with a 4" round rootball.

It looks great. It seems healthy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Japanese Maple Seedling and Wire

I wired a two year old Japanese Maple seedling before bud break, back in February. Just a large piece of wire on the trunk, in a sort of S shape. Today I noticed a smidgen of wire biting, so I removed the wire. Where the wire touched the tree, the bark was grey. The tree also sprung back, or didn't take, about 35% of the bend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Last Budding Tree

It is a birch. I transplanted it into the garden last winter. The bottom branches are budding out, on the top branches the buds are just swollen.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Double Repotting

At the container gardening club display, in Hillside Mall, I asked about container gardening in general. The lady's most interesting claim is that some plants are transplanted into the garden in spring, and out of the garden in fall. This is fine if the plants are healthy.
Of course there is no reason to transplant a bonsai twice in one year. Or is there? When I read about the expo in 1912, where bonsai were introduced to the west, the picture showed a Japanese fella planting out his bonsai trees in a small plot. But because the display was only there over the summer, I assume the FIRST TREES in the WEST were double transplanted.

Oh yea - in the northern cities, people plant out fig trees in spring then dig them up in fall.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Largest Spring Spike in 3 Days

Over the Hillside Mall Bonsai Show weekend, I came home to find a laburnum (gloden chain tree) had grown 12 inches (30 cm) and a sugar maple had grown 10 inches (25 cm). Nothing else had grown larger then 4 inches (10 cm).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Birch Cuttings

I heared that birch throws out roots as readily as willows. I am putting this to the test. I have taken three birch cuttings larger then two inches. How will they do?
If a willow cutting was taken - and I have heared that one can use up to a six inch piece of wood - and left in a bucket of water, then that cutting will throw roots and survive.
I have treated my birch with cutting hormones and planted them. We shall see.
Oh- I think this will work because both birch and willow are swamp trees, which means that they have a more favorable symbiosis with water then most trees. These trees thrive in wet, wet conditions that would rot out or kill another tree. Hence I think that having no roots (due to water rot) is not uncommon in these trees, and they expect a life of throwing out fresh roots simply for survival. Red alder and swamp cypress are other swamp trees.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Garry Oaks - a solution?

This year I de-budded half of my garry oaks, in December. By de-budding, I refer to the practice of removing the terminal bud from the branches of the tree.
Why? The horse chestnut has a very dominant apical bud. So much so that the horse chestnut will grow as a single branch for many years - with no branching at all. The solution to causing the tree to branch is to remove the apical but before or while the but is swelling. The secondary buds then burst forth bringing many branches in many direction, each of which with their own apical dominance.
The garry oak seeding is a slow growing, stringy tree. Removing the buds could promote branching, and more branches also means the tree puts on wight faster.
My de-budded garry oaks are developing about 5 to 7 branches per twig, up from 1 to 3. I think the technique will help.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bonsai Stock Alert

There are some nice pieces of stock - nebari and reasonable trunk girth - at:
Cannor Sears - they have some azaleas for $30. They are the variety "moon" something. They have white flowers with pink edges. The trunk girth is about 3/4 an inch or a little bigger.
Red Barn Market. There are some nice pieris in bin 11 out back. They could be worked as is - The variety I mean has a very dense crown already, but I did not look at the name. They could also be cut back. I cut back mine in the winter - back to a stump, and it is budding right now. They are about an inch in girth, and the crown is closer to the trunk then in some pieris. Unfortunately they are $40.
I consider both of these too expensive. However, I am one of the members who spends too much on trees. These are reasonable pieces of stock for their prices, but there are better deals for those who look.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Organic Aphid Control

All the books claim that it is easy to control aphids. They suggest squishing the bugs or shooting them with a hose. The experts even claim that an aphid will seldom return to a plant from which it has been dislodged.
Well, these organic people have forgotten that ants cultivate aphids in return for the secretions the aphids produce. When a few hundred strong ant colony decides they want aphids on your trees a shot of water or squishing the bugs will not control the problem.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


There is a new product - surficant. I looked it up on wikipedia. It does three things.
1) it helps nutrients emulsify with mixed base - if it is an oil/water nutrient/base mixture.
2) it can coat the leave of a plant; reducing transpiration and reducing the chances of leaf fungi.
3) and most interestingly, it reduces water tension. Water tension is caused by the magnetic properties of H2O. This is why we have such large holes in our pots - the water holds onto itself and does not drain from the pot unless the hole is really big - in which case lots of water comes out at one time, which pulls more water out with it. Water tension is why we have to water some plants twice or three times. The water hits the surface, and because the first part beads off, it all beads off in one magnetic lump.
So surficant reduces water tension.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nitrogen and Leaves

Nitrogen is the nutrient responsible for leaf growth. As such, some sadistic bonsai masters would restrict food from a plant during the spring growing season.

Taub's experiments were meant to determine the difference between low and high amounts of nitrogen feed in 19 species of grasses (1/10th strength and full strength of a complete nutrient product). It turned out there was a 34% increase in leaf mass; a 12% increase in the amount of leaves; but oddly, a 4% reduction in the size of those leaves.

I say feed, feed, feed.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wires on Pines

I started to take the wire off my scotch pine, which I got in a workshop with David Rowe. The wire looked like it could be biting in. The wire was starting to cut in, but only barely and in only a few spots. It was, really, about the perfect time to remove them.

The small branches were happy, but the larger branches had not set. So I unwired the small branches, and left alone all the large branches I had not unwired. I used guy wire to resecure the branches had unwired.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Japanese Maple Fall Color

If one's japanese maple is well fed and properly watered - you will not get showy fall colors.
The japanese maple requires a little stress to show both its fall colors and its variegation/leaf shape. A healthy japanese maple looks more like a green leaf palmatum then whatever else it usually is - though this effect may be very slight.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How much time can you put into one bonsai?

What I mean is how much time can you spend refining a tree?
It takes alot of time to apply wire to every branch!
Before today I did not think it was worth it. However, I needed a small juniper branch to cover a very specific area on the tree. There were 15 branchlettes. I wired the branch to heck, and it did what I wanted it too.

Now I wonder how much more I can do with branches that don't need to be wired to the nines, but could be anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Plant's Personality

Trees are individuals, just like people. And sometimes there are thousands of the same individual, for plants. This is not in reference to a tree's shape, or the history.
From a handful of japanese maples seeds I have maples with red bark and with green bark. I have leaves with very pronounced lobes, some like Canadian flag, others have 3 lobes instead of 5.
From another batch of seedlings, I have one tree which is very sensitive to dryness compared to its siblings. It will droop at the slightest provocation, though its growing conditions were identical (until I learned it was different). By the way - it is not more thirsty, it just wilts faster.

I am wondering how to incorprate such details into my bonsai.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Just to let everyone know to keep an eye out for caterpillars. I found one today curled up in some maple leaves. They had already stuck them all together with its silk. I know this stunts the branch that the caterpillar does this on.

The darn aphids are out in numbers too. I have tries squishing, spraying with a hose, Tabasco and water. This year I am using pesticide. Just whatever Canadian Tire sells.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Maples and Steer Manure

The manager of The Hillside Cannor Nurser told me that maples top dressed with steer manure are less likely to develop several maple blights. The most frequent maple blight averted is whatever causes twigs to blacken and die back.
I was thinking of screening some dried steer manure and replacing a portion of the bark in my soil mix with this. It may not be worth it, if I take proper care of my bonsai.
However, my garden stock could benefit from this - and it certainly wouldn't hurt them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Works on big maples...

My local nurseryperson told me that topdressing maples with steer manure will help prevent various fungi from harming the maple, like those that cause branch blackening and dieback. This is due to bacteria in the steer manure. Chicken manure will do the same for roses.
I wish steer manure came in 2 to 5 mm particles...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

No more pencils, no more books..

In the books they say that in winter one should spend lots of time studying bonsai. This is because the trees are dormant and therefore we do not work on many of them.

Well now it is spring and I have hit the point where I am ignoring my book studies. Buying soil, ordering seedlings, potting, wiring; and most of all enjoying!

My nicest maple is half leaf right now. The leaves are very odd, when half formed.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Pretty much all the deciduous trees have swollen buds, or the leaves have already come out.

Some trees which are slow at breaking their buds this year are the smooth bark elms, hackberry, hedge maple, and dwarf dawn redwood.

For most trees, root growth comes later then bud break, but not by much. Some exceptions are yew, boxwood, some pines, and wisteria.

Keep an eye out for aphids. Use leaf friendly bug sprays; lime sulphur will cause problems with leaves.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I have a guest coming over tomorrow!

A couple things needed to be done. I had to put out my display ready bonsai. I usually have projects or favorites out on my main table. I hosed the dirt and debris off all my tables. I weeded pots. I cleaned my yard of small pots and plant flats - the wind really throws then around.


I hate to show my friends pictures of my bonsai because they "WOW" in real life and they "uh" when I show pictures.

I have arranged for my photographer friend to teach me how to photograph my bonsai better. I don't thing composition is the problem. It is depth and color and background contrast that I have the most trouble with. With many of my pictures of my bosai, it is hard to tell the difference between the bonsai and the shrubs in the backyard. But even with a solid backdrop I find the back branches 'vanish.' Part of bonsai is the 3-dimensionality, something the 2-D picture steals away somehow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Juniper Bark

Juniper bark comes off easy at this time of year.

Don't forget to shape your branches, if necessary. Leave the wire on the jinned wood for the whole year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Crab Apple - Time to repot

I got this crab apple from a friend. It was a good stump but with no-where to go, artistically. He gave it to me. I plunked it in the ground for two years. This year (grown last year) there was a branch that did just the righ thing for the stump. I cut back everything not that branch, and I potted my new pre-bonsai.

Monday, March 5, 2007

One of the Reasons for Bonsai

Over the past week I have been appreciating my bonsai. The last few days have been really hectic. I have spent some time each day in my garden looking at the bark on my middle aged hedge maple trees - a nonhectic activity. I really like the bark at this stage, about 3 or 4 years old.
I like having bonsai.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Snow After Repotting

My maples and larches have started to break their buds. As per bonsai literature, when this happens we repot the trees. However, Victoria's weather is so mild that the buds break before winter actually ends. Hence the "I've already repotted some things, yet it is time for the last sub-zero cold snap."
It is all about aftercare.
I bring my plants right up against the house, where the radiant temperatures of the house will keep the repotted plant a few degrees warmer then outside is in general. Others put their repotted plants in an unheated garage or shed. Still others have a greenhouse to leave the plants in. One could put their trees into a deep pit, where the ground will insulate them.
The only other solution is to wait until after the early March Victoria cold snap. Most of us know it is coming. And the trees whose buds have broken aren't going to be growing very fast when the temperatures are so low. So if the tree doesn't bud out too early, it is ok to wait.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Maple Seedlings!

I usually pick up a handfull of seeds from a japanese maple I know that seeds regularly in fall, and I throw them into a 'soiled' flat to come up in springtime.
I happened to find that many seedlings come up under the tree the next spring. I collected many of these in a ziplock bag, with a wet paper towel in it, and transported these new trees home.
Well, it is ziplock bag time for the next month! I saw the first crop of seedlings break their shell on Feb 25.
I will wait another week for my first harvest.
1) I had better have time to pot them up fast!
2) I have to have soil too - something I am low on right now.
3) if I wait to long, the seedlings will lose growing time this year.
Let me elaborate on point 3. Seedlings (in general) grow only from the energy they have stored within them. They do not need any nutrients or anything from the environment. After the first quick burst the plants begin to utilize their environment to generate more energy and structures. If the seedling is disturbed during the first flush of growth, it will quickly recover and re-establish itself.
So damaging the maple seedlings roots by pulling it out of the ground, and then storing the plant in a plastic bag with 200 of its brethren for a couple hours while I finish my errands; won't harm the seedlings a bit - if I do it to the seedlings first couple of weeks of their life.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

5 degrees or 15?

Some bonsai literature claims that tree roots don't grow when a tree is dormant. Trees go dormant when temperatures get below 15 degrees. Other bonsai literature claims tree roots grow until the temperature lowers to 5 degrees, and resumes at the same temperature in the spring.
Someone in the bonsai club suggested that it probably depends on the species. Therefore, this year I am keeping a list of which tree's roots are active at repotting time, and which are not.

On a related note, bonsai literature tends to assume that new root tips are sensitive to breakage, freezing, and chemical burn from fertilizers. But some other literature suggests that new roots, new root tips and roots in general are as hardy as they need to be. Hence cuttings, seedlings and newly repotted trees can all be fertilized normally.

Who Knows?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nursery Opening!

Cannor Nursery opened today. I am not sure what else is open yet, but it cannot be long for all the nurseries to be open. That means new stock!
But what happened to me today was wonderful. I walked in and the nursery employee said to me - "Here is my damaged, discounted, over wintered stock."
The Escallonia I was offered was well zig zagged, it had aged looking bark, and it was 60% off. So was the other one I found in the pile of last years stock. The only branches which had broken off were the larger, longer branches that would have had to have been pruned off any way.
Over wintered, and what that means:
The nurseries price by pot size. They pot things up to larger pots in spring, like bonsai artists repot then. In spring, one is usually purchasing the smallest product for the highest price. Now, after a year in that pot, we know the plant is healthy; as well as it has grown, in someone else's yard, as well as in girth. So now we have a larger plant for the same amount of money, in the over wintered plants.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tree Knocked Down

My Craig Cousins Dawn Redwood was knocked down by a strong wind on friday. I found the poor thing on saturday. Most of the soil had been knocked of the roots. The plant requires immediate replanting. The buds are not swelling or popping, so it may be a bad time for repotting right now. But, I have to repot.

I thought I had done a good job of reveling the roots. I was wrong. The plant was an informal upright when I left the workshop. The roots were quite one sided, but impressive none the less. Now it has fantastic radial roots. Now it is a slanting style, and I do mean 45 degree angle.

Anyway, repotting should not be a problem. This is mostly because we live in Victoria with its lack of winter; the other part is aftercare - mist the tree and try not to rot the healing roots with too much water, nor dry them out with too little.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Buds Popping!

Dawn Redwood
Purple Willow

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Last Years Willow Cuttings

I repotted last years willow cuttings today. The primary reason I did it was because I like to play with my trees. Next it was: one year old willow cutting have got to be as hard to kill as fresh willow cuttings - which are very hard to kill - so these ought to be tough and can take a February transplant.
The yearlings had plenty of roots. I chose the lowest, most radial roots and chopped the rest. I planted them in cut-down gallon pots; and put them close to the house so they don't catch any sudden frosts.
I would not do this with a bonsai-ed willow. Willows drop branches when stressed. Don't ask what stresses a willow, the list is too long. Dropping branches is, of course, very bad for a bonsai. Take the utmost care to baby willows.
But the yearling trees have no branches - so either the "one branch" will die, or nothing bad will happen because there are no branches. I have stated why I don't think the one branch theory will happen.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Learning Bonsai

Oddly, there is no specific "beginning" when learning bonsai. I learned about bonsai with wild collected trees, meaning I had to learn to shape the tops of trees first; I had a trunk already and knew how to keep it alive. Others start from seed, so they must learn about trunk growing first. Still others purchase ready made bonsai and need to learn pruning techniques before anything else.

Workshops ($50-$80) start participants off with a tree, so they do not teach selection principles. They cover identifying the bonsai within the raw material, and how to make the tree like that. They do not cover how to care for the tree horticulturally. Nor do they teach how to refine a tree with the passage of time.

Bonsai is learned gradually; through trial and error; reading books; conversing with people of experience; and looking at bonsai trees. The Joshua Roth New Talent Competition considers "new talent" those with less then 10 years experience.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

6 Cold Days

It has been 6 days with tempuratures from 2C to -4C, since I posted the picture of the Elm bud(last entry). The bud is fine! I expected it to be withered and dead, but the cold has done nothing to it, yet.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Official Opening of Buds/Blog

Yay! It is leaf break! This is a Chinese Corkbark Elm. My Japanese Maples are starting to go as well.

I had planned on starting this blog with the first bud break. Here we are! The reason I started the blog early was so it would have some content right from the official opening.

I got this elm from a club member. She gave it to me because I had lost a big elm that summer. I have planted this elm in my garden and I am just going to let it grow. When the trunk is around two inches I will cut it back hard, that should be in two or three years.

Grow a bonsai from seed kit

Grow your own bonsai from seed kits are ridiculous. This is because they give the impression that you can actually obtain a bonsai from seed quickly. The book which comes with the kit is very vague, an introduction to bonsai only. Seedlings don't need to be repotted, trimmed or wired.
What one needs to know about growing bonsai from seed is how to a) care for a seedling and b) develop good stock.
a) seedlings in crummy peat pellets are prone to drying out, or being drowned. This is because of the peat - it is either bone dry, or saturated. It doesn't spend much time slightly moist, what plants like. I suggest potting soil because people know how to keep plants alive in potting soil, or sand/gravel because the is what the seedling would want.
b) nebari and trunk girth are what is important about stock. The seedling has to be root trained by planting it on top of a flat surface, so its roots spread. Good nebari results in a greater trunk girth then a tree with poor nebari. But trunk girth is also obtained by unrestricted growth. This is why a bonsai from seed is a long term project.
Small bonsai from seed - 5 yrs
normal sized bonsai from seed - 12 yrs
large bonsai from seed - 18 yrs

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My List for Spring

I went to my garden and made a list of things I will need to do by the end of April. Of course, many tasks will be added and deleted from this list. But if I have no clear plan I may endanger my plants. I have to:
...make tree growing boxes, benches and tags.
...replant some trees. Some young trees need to be repotted to take advantage of their vigour. The older trees need to be repotted because the soil in the pots has broken down to a level which makes watering difficult.
...dig up some garden growing plants, and pot them.
...dig up some garden growing plants, place a tile under them and re-plant them.
...trim the garden growing plants - no bar branches; trim to promote low branching.
...wire trees!
...clean dead areas on trees - to heal over, or to apply new lime sulphur.
...take cuttings. air layerings when the buds start to swell.
...cultivate mosses.
...purchase soil.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dug up trees

There is construction going on near my house. They are putting up a condo or something. They ravaged most of the plants on the lot, but there were a few left. I have looked at them every day for 3 months. I asked the foreman if I could dig up some of the trees left on the lot. He was more then happy to let me do so so long as I was careful and did not get hurt on his site.

These trees are honeysuckle. They bud back super well from old wood and hard cuts. They also shed bark like mad. Fortunately, they were planted in front of a cement wall. The roots did not have a chance to spread far, but they were deep. I just hacked at the deep roots with my shovel. I took home 4 root balls, which ended up as 6 plants. One is thick (2 1/2 inch), two have nice shape and taper, two have dynamite roots, and the third is pleasantly grotesque. On the last I had to choose between the roots which emerged from the trunk at the surface of the soil, or the the heavier roots from the bottom of the bucket the plant was grown in before planting out. I chose the thick roots, but this leaves me with a bulge where the top roots were.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Alder Leaves

Alder seem to break buds the earliest in Victoria. There was two new leaves on an alder at the club meeting today. The red alder is a native plant. It loves living very close to streams and lakes, ditches and anywhere there is a lot of water. I hypothesize that the water soaked roots warm up faster then regular dirt bound roots. If the plant has evloved to work with water this way, then it would make sense the plant would wake up early in the season even though bonsai alder are not so wet.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cactus Bonsai

I transplanted my cactus into a bonsai pot today. I haven't done any bonsai things for a while and I needed to do something. I thought it may be OK to repot because it is not zero degrees inside the house, where the cactus lives, as it is outside.

The cactus is about 4 inches tall. I found it in a nursery and was attracted to its trunks. There are three of them, growing from an underground root. Honestly, the cactus's canopy is sub par. I put it in a square terracotta pot to signify dessert. I think the pot is good, it promotes mood and it has a squat appearance which seems to work with the plant.

I have no idea how to care for a cactus and to develop canopy and ramification, but I will do my best.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Pots and Spiders

It turns out I have more pots then I thought I had. I had to move them from one outdoor shelf to another and it took a long time! It seems I collect pots just as I collect trees for bonsai. The pots sometimes are used for bonsai, other times I just enjoy the empty pot.
Of course, when you have lots of pots outside, one must be careful to tidy them every so often. I found two large spider nests in my pot collection, as well as several spider egg sacks. It is possible the two live spiders were dangerous. The reclusive and widow spiders around here are dangerous. An upside down liter sized garden pot is about the perfect size and shape for these kinds of spiders; and they will also use smaller and larger spaces, like all of your other pots. Heck, just be careful!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Redwoods growing in Dec and Jan

Today my suspicions are confirmed. My giant redwood is growing right now. Some of the twigs have grown 3cm, other buds are very swollen. I know because I pinched everything back 2 weeks ago when I first noticed it. Now the back buds have swollen and the non-pinched areas are the 3cm branches.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mr Miyogi's Bonsai, from The Karate Kid

Mr. Miyagi, of the movie "Karate Kid," is a bonsai enigma.
Mr. Miyagi gave Daniel, the hero of the movie Karate kid one, a bonsai tree. But this occurred on the first meeting of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel. Furthermore, Mr. Miyagi offered Daniel a tree for his mother, someone he had never met.
Mr. Miyagi had eight trees visible in the movie. Since he was an apartment building manager, I assume this was his whole collection. I do not understand why Mr. Miyagi was so generous with his bonsai "children." I thought he must have hated some trees and wanted to get rid of them; but he actually gave Daniel a choice of what trees to take. Whatever, Mr Miyagi.
Also, in the third movie Mr. Miyagi takes his prized bonsai and plants it in the wild, in a deep crevasse by the sea shore. Daniel tries to recover this masterpiece left by Miyagi years ago, only to drop the tree in seawater. Miyagi nurses the tree back to health, as any bonsai adept could do.
My Question is: what would you do with your best bonsai when you are perfectly healthy and have lots of time but no-longer want to do bonsai? I bet that bonsai would go to a good home and artist, and would not be abandoned in the wild.
This also shows Daniel had no clue about bonsai: a bonsai tree with 5 year wild/field growth, and it's a pine - this would not fetch a good price on any market. The branches would be leggy.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Potting/Nursery Soil Rant

Potting soil is not good for bonsai. A flower requires a good growing medium which will be thrown out in three months. Ta da, we have potting soil. It is a mix of sand and peat with a bit of fertilizer. Peat is dead moss. Roots find it easy to grow in this mixed medium, especially the freshly transplanted flowers. As moss is an organic compound and it has no cellulose structure it breaks apart over about 8 months. It breaks apart because of swelling and drying out, as well as through natural decay processes. The broken bits filter in between the sand and plug up the spaces. Water no longer flows through the soil watering the roots of the plant in it. Water pools on the top and seeps down the insides of the pot. What little water does make it inside the tight packed soil mass does not evaporate quickly and promotes rotting of the root. Of course rotting roots are bad, so potting soil is therefore bad too.
Nursery soil is about the same but the soil mixture includes a substantial portion of bark. Too much bark promotes too much moisture. As well, the high proportion of bark means a lot of organic material is breaking down at the same time. The bark is composed of cellulose, it has a harder structure which takes about 1 year to become compacted.
The solution to a plant in a compacted soil is to transplant the tree when the tree is healthy and vigorous. If it is not the right time for transplanting, the plant's soil should be fully immersed in water occasionally. Keep the plant's soil underwater until it stops bubbling.