Shohin Convention in Santa Nella

This coming weekend will bring bonsai enthusiast from around the U.S. to Santa Nella for the biannual shohin convention.  It will begin on this coming Friday and end on Sunday.  The Shohin convention brings people from all over for many reasons.  There are vendors that come from all over the U.S.  The cost of the workshops are kept low to accommodate more people.  The general overall atmosphere is more relaxed.  The shohin displays are stunning.  I am currently cleaning up trees to take to the convention.  I have been doing this over the past few weeks and months.  If you are interested in anything in particular, feel free to e-mail me at and I will be happy to fill your request.

Finally fully flowered!

White ume fully flowered.. 
The white ume is finally fully flowered.  I think it was fuller before the rains knocked off some of the buds and flowers off of the tree.  I wish you could smell the blossoms.  The white has a fragrant but soft smell to the blossoms.  The pink ume has an extremely light fragrance which is only perceptible by getting close to the flower.  I have been continuing to weed the areas around the trees in the field.  Yesterday afternoon I did some grafting.  I grafted some cork pines and some yatsubusa pines onto black pine understock.  I have included the final picture of the white flowering ume.  I hope that the tree seeds so I can plant the fruit in the ground.

Cork pine air-layer.

cork pine air-layer base

bottom of cork pine fully rooted

cork pine air-layer before thinning
Last year I did my pine air-layering as usual.  When I was done, I walked by a row of cork bark pines.  I only have a handful of them in the ground.  I have the mother plant and six grafts that I took a few years ago next to it in the ground.  I noticed that one of the grafts was shooting up faster than the other trees and had a long leader at the top.  It was already starting to break a bit which is a sign that it is beginning to cork.  I thought why not air-layer the top of the cork pine?  My Dad was walking by and told me that it would probably not work.  He thought that since the bark was thick, I would have a hard time removing the bark to take the air-layer.  I took my time and carefully removed a 3/4 inch ring of bark away from the area to be air-layered.  It did take longer than on the regular pines.  As I removed the bark, I noticed that the sap came out pretty quickly around the wound.  The sap is much thicker than on a regular pine.  I carefully put a 4 inch cup around the area and filled it with moss.  I have been carefully watering this pine since last spring.  This morning curiosity got the better of me.  As I walked by the cork pines, I checked to see if my air-layer had any roots.  I was surprised to find that the air-layer was fully rooted.  I carefully cut off the air-layer and thinned the air-layer before planting it into an 8 inch bulb pan.  I am really excited about the cork pine air-layer.  Many people who came to the nursery and saw my little experiment expressed doubt about it rooting.  The advantages of air-layering a cork bark pine are numerous.  The first advantage is that you can air-layer the top of the tree and save yourself a few years over starting one from a graft.  The second advantage is that you will get a beautiful radial root structure around the base of the tree.  Third, you can reverse engineer the height and branch placement of your cork pine.  And the greatest advantage is that you will not have the reverse taper that accompanies grafting a cork pine onto a regular pine.  Now I am excited to try this on the other cork pines in the ground!  I have included a few pictures of the cork pine air-layer.  In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the air-layer when it was still attached to the parent plant.  Oh well maybe next year.

Finally, some rain?

Today was another cold start.  I can not recall having a winter this cold.  It has been very cold and very dry.  This weekend we finally might see some rain.  The bonsai trees could sure use a good drink of water.  This morning was one of our watering days, but we had to wait a few hours for the hoses to thaw out.  In the meantime, I weeded around the trees in the field.  We would normally have tilled the rows in the field to get rid of  the weeds, but we were waiting for the rains to keep the dust down.  When I walked to the bonsai benches, I noticed that the matsubara red ume's were blooming.  I have one in the field to use for cuttings.  I only have a few left in cans.  The ones in the cans I purchased a few years ago.  They were grafted trees that I purchased.  They cost more than other trees that I buy as liner stock, but since they are a rare tree I didn't mind.  I included photo's of the matsubara red ume.  The flower looks kind of pink in the photo's do to the lighting.  The color is really more of a dark pink to pale red in color.

Almost there!

The blossoms on the ume are coming in fast.  Although it looks fully flowered, it is only about 75% flowered.  I would give it another week before the tree is fully flowered.  I have included the latest pictures of the ume tree.  I also took a picture of my obai(winter jasmine).  I have had this tree for quite a few years.  I would estimate the tree to be over 25 years old.  The tree had more flowers a few weeks back, but I just now thought of taking a photo of the tree. I am still working on the pre-bonsai stock.  On some of the trees I have taken all of the branches off to start new ones.  I did this mostly on the Chinese quince.  The larger branches on the top of the trees needed to be cut off to give the tree balance.  We have still had very cold and dry weather.  I hope we get some rain soon.  We have been watering the field over the last few weeks.  I do not recall watering in the winter ever!  Oh well, you can't predict Mother Nature.

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