Extreme branch bending.

I recently dug out a nice size Japanese black pine out of the field.  Everything about this tree was very nice except a large branch that was out of place.  The branch was growing in a nice place before I made a new apex.  Now this one branch was out of place and quite large.  So in order to bend the branch, I cut the branch away from the trunk from the top.  I left just enough of a vein to keep the branch alive(I hope.).  So far its seems to be working okay.  After I made the large cut, I bent the branch down with a heavy wire and anchored the wire to the pot.  After the branch remains in place and is healthy, I am going to take a knob cutter and grafting knife and fix the area that I cut.  After I clean up the branch I will put tree seal around the wound and wrap the wound with raffia until the branch heals.  After the branch heals, I will begin wiring the tree.  I think this tree will turn out fantastic.  I have included three photo’s of the cut.  If you want a close up view of the picture, just click on each picture individually.

Hot, cold and busy!

The weather has been gorgeous over the last few days.  The weekend was fantastic.  We have had very cold mornings.  Today as an example we have a hard frost.  Frost is unusual for our area at this time of year.  Yesterday we were in the mid 80’s for a high.  I do not know what the plants will do with this cold weather.  The customers have been very steady over the last few days, including Sunday.  On Friday we went to a clients house to take care of his collection of bonsai trees.  We pruned and thinned all of his trees and removed any remaining wires.  He also bought a thunderhead black pine bonsai to replace a white pine that he lost.  We took 4 plants home with us that needed help.  Two trees needed to be transplanted, and two of the plants had to have trees replaced.  Yesterday a young couple came by to the nursery for the first time.  They called ahead so I planned to be home.  They had a good time looking around and picked up a few trees to work with.  Today is going to be a very busy day as well.  No rest for bonsai nursery men.  Last Thursday I worked on a Japanese black pine that had good branch structure, however one of the branches was connected to the trunk and was a few inches too high.  So, I cut the branch away from the trunk and left just a part of the live vein to sustain the branch.  That allowed me to pull down the branch the few inches to improve the tree.  Once the cut heals, I will work on the area that I cut and shape it to match the trunk.  I will try to provide photo’s when I get a chance.  I better get to work….

Chosing the right bonsai stock.

I had a couple of customers yesterday that drove up from Southern California.  They came to visit the nursery and to pick out some field grown bonsai stock.  They were very excited about the selection of trees.  One of the gentleman wanted help picking out field grown pines.  As we discussed his interests in tree styles, I started to point out some trees that might work.  He would find a flaw that he did not like or something just did not work right.  The process of selecting the perfect bonsai stock comes from within you.  Not some expert or someone who may be more knowledgeable.  If you ask me to pick out a tree, I would be happy to help.  However, I am picking a tree that I like.  Even if you give me parameters and guidelines on what you like, they are within the scope of my viewpoint.  The tree has to evoke an emotion from you.  You have to have an aha! moment.  When that moment comes, you will know if it is the right tree for you.  The essence of bonsai is that the tree pleases you.  Not that it makes an impression on someone else.  So no matter what someone tells you, go with your own instinct and you will not go wrong….

Successful workshop!

The workshop that we held on Saturday was quite successful.  It would not have been if I did not have the help of two wonderful friends.  Phil and Jeff came by to help me and I appreciate their help immensely.  We all started out with a procumbens nana juniper.  We separated each table with about 5 people each.  I started out by showing out how to thin the tree to see the potential in the tree.  Phil and Jeff went around helping people who needed help and I did the same.  Some people caught onto the idea right away and others needed a little help.  After the initial thinning, people started to remove branching.  We explained about trying not to have multiple branching in the same area(bar – branches).  Again, some did well and others needed help.  After the removing of branches, we started to wire the trees.  I showed how to wire on a branch and let the student finish the wiring.  I then went to the next student and got them started.  When I finished, I would go back to the first student.  Again, Phil and Jeff were instrumental in each step of the teaching process.  It is always nice to have extra hands.  When we were all done, we critiqued the finished trees.  Most were quite amazing for a first try.  One lady plucked off most of the foliage off of each branch.  When I started to help her wire, it was much easier because there was no foliage to get in the way.  The tree looked odd, but in the end it was one of the nicer shaped trees.  Since she just plucked the foliage off, there was enough on the branch for it to start to push growth in a few weeks.  All in all, it was a delightful morning.  Some of the students were so excited on working on a plant, that they purchased an extra plant to work on for themselves.  I think we may have some new bonsai club members.

Soil prep and workshop prep.

Yesterday I went to buy some components for my bonsai soil mix.  We use four main ingredients.  The first is sharp sand.  The second is scoria (small lava rock approx. 3/16 inch). The third ingredient is pumice, and the last ingredient is plant mix.  The sharp sand help with drainage and is good for root growth.  The pumice is light and holds water.   The scoria holds some water and helps with aeration.  The plant mix help feed the plant slowly.  We start with about 20 percent each of the sand, scoria and pumice.  The other 40 percent is the plant mix.  We adjust the mix according to the plant material.  Pines and junipers get about 80 percent inorganic and 20 percent organic.  Fruiting and flowering trees get more organic to help with the fruiting and flowering.  Today I shipped trees that were tagged earlier for customers.  I also am getting ready to do a bonsai workshop tomorrow.  We will have 10 participants and 8 observers.  I also have a couple of people helping me out.  It should be a lot of fun.  Every time I teach, I learn something new.  After the workshop we are going to a wine party.  I am looking forward to tasting some nice wines, enjoying good food with  good friends. 

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