New View

New View

For those of you who don’t know, I like bonsai, and earlier this year began to learn how to do it right. They say you’ll kill a lot of trees, so I guess I am learning. In fact, for awhile I stopped posting about bonsai because nearly every tree I wrote a post about – ok, half – ended up dead. The korean hornbeam in this pic, and tomorrow’s, has been pretty steady since a beginner’s workshop in early March, so hopefully it will survive.

The tree’s shape shows just how much a beginner I am, or at least was in March. I don’t feel like I understand the shaping of trees yet. Just look at this one: basic “S” shaped upright “A” frame triangle. A valid style, but highly over done; every beginner does at least one tree that looks like this. I have two. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere. And some the ones that have had years to grow look really great.

I follow a few bonsai blogs [see right sidebar]. Two of these guys, Adam’s Art and Bonsai and eschmidtpabonsai, post fairly regularly and I see more of their trees-in-progress than others. Both of them are fairly aggressive, compared to me, with their trees, especially Sir Adam. I still cringe, but watching what they do has made me somewhat braver.

Back to this vict . . . tree. I just revamped it from what you see here. Having watched posts on the blogs listed above with morbid fascination, looking at some of my trees and being completely at a loss for ideas, knowing I really ought to do something to save my upright S curve A frame trees from mundacity. So I checked out some bonsai blogs, put on some great ’80s rock, looked at my tree, approached this little guy with intent, and suddenly saw something new that I hadn’t seen before.

Voi la! An idea! Action!
Check again tomorrow to see what happened. . . .

While We’re Down Under. . . .

While We're Down Under. . . .

My last stop in Australia was in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful city with lots of great art, great public transportation [with both trams and buses – that is, the motor coach], a harbor and ocean shore, a renowned . . . the list goes on.
Anyway, shortly after I got back to the States, I came across a bonsai blog “adamaskwhy@wordpress.com.” Adam is in Melbourne, all his blog photos of himself are in shorts, and there were a few comments about consuming alcohol while working on trees. Sounds Aussie to me! I made a comment on his weblog about the cow tree in his fair city and that I wished I’d known about his bonsai club while I’d been there. It would have been fun to meet some Aussie bonsai folk! Guess again. . . . Yup, Melbourne, Florida, USA.
So, Adam, here’s a pic of “your” fair city’s cow in a tree art.
Oh, and the photo is not mine. I picked it up off the internet. Photo credit goes to ichibansean.wordpress.com.

Egret Flower

Egret Flower

Well, life has been happening, including losing the flowering quince that had been doing so well. It turns out several things went wrong, serially, almost as soon as I transplanted it: Hot weather, both night and day (sing it Cole!), windy spell, high nitrogen fertilizer – which the FQ doesn’t like, especially right after repotting. I had the light right. At least now I know what NOT to do.

I’ve also been in rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” playing “Corin” the shepherd. This is the “All the world’s a stage. . .” play, for those who are interested.

It’s still maple defoliation season here so they’ve been getting attention, and the junipers have been being selectively pruned. And of course watering. Mostly everybody in pots is happy (plus my land lady who I just gave two jade plants). Plus I had to plan and have Astrid’s birthday party (the cat). Some of you may not like this idea, but I got her a frozen feeder mouse which she thoroughly enjoyed. The next two mornings on our walk she was all over the place, up and down trees and support posts, jumping over ivy tendrils, chasing leaves and cockroaches. I guess it was a happy day for her.

The lacy white flowers picutured are egret flowers, which I am veeerrrrrry excited about. They are an orchid, Habenaria radiate. I think they usually bloom earlier in the season. The flower stocks are a little gangly, probably due to having lots of water (in well draining soil), but the flowers are still beautiful, and in my book it’s pretty cool getting an orchid to bloom. Any body else out there trying to grow both bonsai and orchids? Talk about a steep learning curve! :]

I hope everyone is having a good summer! Thanks for reading.

Limited Edition: Updates

Limited Edition: Updates

Here’s the little flowering quince that I posted about on 8 & 9 June this year. You can see that it is starting to back bud and has several flower buds as well. I love that it is flowering, but [except to have something to show in this photo] am removing the flowers. They take so much energy and this year the important thing is to get new leaves and branches started.

Also doing well is the “Odd Auction” bloodgood maple [18 June]. Nice deep red buds are starting at several of the old leaf nodes. I defoliated it and cut it back about a foot in hight. I’m not as brave about pruning as some of you, but I’m learning!

BTW, the highly stressed bloodgood that was posted on 5 April didn’t make it. Not only was there the original watering issues at the nursery, I’ve learned that we have really bad water for maple, camellia, azalea, many deciduous and flowering plants. [More on that soon.]

Odd Auction

Odd Auction

Took a bike ride to post a letter and buy cat food – gotta keep the “Accent Cat” happy! There’s a letter box outside the drug store and the store sells nursery plants. Ah, ha! Now you know where this is going.

About 4 feet from the box there’s this bloodgood maple that looks like it’s over due for water but is otherwise healthy. I tell the cashier that it is dying (which is true if they kept on their current watering schedule), and can I get it at a deal? They offer at 50% off (original price $50). I offer $5 less. After a minute, another employee comes along and jumps in the conversation. He goes outside to look at the tree and the cashier says she’ll give it to me for $20. The guy outside brings the tree in saying, “How about 10? I mean, look at this” (showing me the nicely developing nebari). “Yeah, I see,” I say, quite neutrally. He looks at me, “You can’t have it for a penny over $10!” What could I do? He insisted! So I paid them and drove back to pick it up later. (Yes, I remembered to buy cat food.)

At home, I put in a little time release fertalizer, a bit more soil, and soaked it to be sure the entire dirt pack it’s potted in (sigh) would get wet. Now it is draining and sitting for a bit. This afternoon I’ll take off all the curled, browning leaves and cut it back some to encourage new, back growth. Repot in the spring. The days are too hot to repot maples. My thought now is to make it a bunjin / literati with that bottom branch as the apex, but I’ll wait and see how it looks in the spring.

Faux Quince

Faux Quince

The flowering quince featured in the previous two posts came with its very own companion tree! It is approaching its first summer. Such a skinny, twiggy little thing. For reference, it is in a four inch pot.

I’m not sure what it is, but my best guess is elm or hornbeam. Actually, thinking about it more, its little leaves are softer and slightly downy. Any ideas?

Flowering Quince, deux

Flowering Quince, deux

Today, I undertook the first pruning of the quince purchaced two days ago. I guess I’m not as brave as some of you guys who have been at this longer – it isn’t pruned as much as originally intended.

Probably just as well. The root pruning was a dickens! (though I don’t know why we blame Charles for difficult things). It is the best example I’ve seen of “yank the plant from the 2” pot and jam it into a gallon container.” At the core of the root ball was a 2 inch cube of densely packed ancient potting soil, crushed pearlite, and decomposing roots. Getting all that gunk off prior to repotting was a Charles, but not a Murphy, and took longer than is best for root exposure, but I kept them moist.

Anyway, here it is in the new pot. I hadn’t originally planned on the semi-cascade or the cascade pot, but they seem to go well together – at least for the next year until we see if there’s enough back budding for a mame.

Flowering Quince

Flowering Quince

Picked up this gal from the nursery yesterday. My hope is to bring it down to become a mame, but that will take a couple steps and it will be next spring, at the earliest, before I try to get it that small. For now, there will be some pruning and a repot – into a real bonsai pot ’cause I’ve got one handy. Oh, those lighter green blobs (a botanical term, yeah, uh huh, really) near the main trunk and off to the left? Developing fruit from the last bloom.

On the Flower Front

On the Flower Front

Yesterday I picked up nursary stock – Lodgepole Pine and Shimpaku Juniper – to create mame [Ma-may] bonsai. Early evening I repotted into good soil and cut back the greenery to balance the roots that needed pruning. Ya, and what’s this got to do with flowers?
This morning I noticed that one of the phalaenopsis had a bud beginning to open. Yippee! An orchid. Blooming. For me? This makes two out of seven. Wow, life is really awesome!