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.