Friday, December 17, 2010

Secrest Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum 'Secrest' is a dwarf form of Bald Cypress that originated from a witch’s broom. Check out this page for a mature landscape view amongst this nice collection of Bald hybrids. The garden centers in Lincoln had their stock out a bit later than usual this year since we didn't really have a hard freeze until mid/late November. There were about five to choose from at Campbell's on Pine Lake.  The sun was shining and temps were decent, so I took my time to study them. 

The chosen one did not have the most trunk girth, but I liked the subtle movement from the base of the tree until the first branch. I figured that I may be able to get a little more bend out of this section, then focus on creating more trunk movement after the first branch. 

First, I removed some of the unnecessary branches and wrapped the trunk in raffia. It sat that way for a few weeks until Haidar stopped by with some heavier wire.  He suggested that I wrap some electrical tape over the raffia to increase the flexibility and cover any tiny spots that may have been missed to avoid any wire scarring.  I broke out some Scotch 2242 and began to wrap.  It reminded me of gripping a tennis racket.  Using the tape cuts the application time drastically in comparison with applying raffia.  So, I have added yet another item to my bonsai tool bag – electrical tape. 

We managed to get some significant wiggle out of this tree after a bit of a workout. As Tom said later in the day, “That's some serious bondage."  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NBS Over-Wintering Seminar and October Meeting

The NBS October Meeting will follow the Over-Wintering seminar, presented by Max J. Miller and Loren Buxton at 10:00 am this Saturday at Mulhalls.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nebraska Bonsai Society Fall Show

The Nebraska Bonsai Society will be holding our fall show in conjunction with Lauritzen Garden's Autumn Ambience and Japanese Festival this weekend.  The admission fee to the gardens this weekend will support the addition of their Japanese garden.  The Ikebana Omaha International will also have a display.  Come out and enjoy the festivities.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Honeymooning at Wigert’s

It was a blistering, humid day in Southwest Florida, but I managed to convince my wife, Jenn, to spend the afternoon at the Wigert’s in North Fort Myers.  After all, what’s a honeymoon without a little bonsaing!  Erik and his wife run a large operation that includes tropical and semi-tropical bonsai stock and a gallery of specimen trees.  The nursery is very impressive and Erik is no doubt a talented artist.  I was surprised to see him and his assistants wearing pants and long sleeves on such a hot day - no doubt to protect them from the insects.  While Jenn was relaxing in the a/c, I was perusing the many rows of stock at the nursery.  I managed to pick up an interesting suggestion on how to prevent deadwood from rotting on species with soft wood - MinWax Wood Hardener.  Erik specializes in collecting/styling Bougainvillea and uses the MinWax to treat the soft wood of the tree after carving.  Check out this gallery of Erik’s trees.  Most were collected, including the Lantana, just recently from a beach in the area.  Lantana’s grow like weeds in that part of the country.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Developing Ramification on Deciduous Bonsai

Very informative three-part series on Bonsai Bark from Bonsai Today issue 66. Check it out...

Part I
Part II
Part III

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Beauty of Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

Over time, I’ve developed an appreciation for what some classify as flowering bonsai.  Species such as Ume, Rhododendron and Malus are grown specifically to induce flowering and are primarily appreciated for the spectacle of their flowers.  Often, the branches are left unkept on these species to increase the number of flowers, which can often lead to an unsightly tree during the period in which it isn’t flowering.   

With its miniature leaves, tight growth habit and unusual bark color and texture, Satsuki Azalea can be enjoyed during all seasons.  The flowers on this Hakurei cultivar are primarily white w/ pink lines or speckles, but as you can see, a flower emerged within the last week that’s entirely pink.  Satsuki hybrids are known for producing multiple colored flowers on the same plant.

At the Shohin Convention in St. Louis last year, I was fortunate to sign up for a Satuski Azalea workshop with David Kreutz.  It was an inspiring session.  The NBS is in the planning process of hosting David for a workshop on Satsuki in Nebraska.  Please contact me for further details.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oak Creek hosts 1st Annual Bonsai Show

This all day event was well attended and there were some excellent specimens on display. Haider Kazem really inspired some interest in collecting native species for bonsai, as he displayed his American and Siberian/Russian Elms and an Eastern Red Cedar. Rick McConnell displayed some interesting caudiciforms and Ed caught all of our attention with his soil-less ‘Too Little’ figs, growing in only moss. Dave Fortune’s multi-trunk Trident Maple and Scott Luke’s Chinese Elm and Horsetail accent were certainly highlights.

Check out these photos of the event captured by Dana...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nebraska Bonsai Society May Meeting

The Nebraska Bonsai Society May meeting will be held on Thursday, May 20th at 7 p.m. It’s open to members and non-members. We have decided to alternate meeting sites monthly between Lincoln and Omaha for now. Since the Oak Creek bonsai show in Lincoln was held in lieu of our meeting, this month’s meeting is in Omaha at Zorinsky Lake Park. Please see below for details regarding the meeting site. We are still in the experimental phase of locating meeting sites, so we’ll see how this one goes. It appears to be a great site.

For those who will be traveling from Lincoln and care to arrange a car-pool, please let me know. I plan to leave Lincoln around 5:30. I realize that getting to the meetings may be somewhat of an inconvenience depending on your location, but I know you will find it worthy.

I hope to see you all there!

Informal discussion or meet/greet
Show & Tell
Discuss any news, events, etc. (Azalea Workshop)
Air Layering a Korean Hornbeam

Zorinsky Lake Park
3808 South 156th Street
Omaha, NE 68130
(402) 444-5900

We will plan to meet at shelter 4 (smaller one). If we are not there, check the other three which are all on the cul-de-sac.

Select this link to input your location for driving directions to Zorinsky:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mulhall's Spring Show 2010

The NBS held a bonsai display and demo in conjunction with the Mulhall’s Spring Show on Saturday.

Max Miller, Les Bingle, Fred Hutchinson and myself all brought trees for the display. Max brought a refined deciduous tree (I don’t recall the species) that he trained from nursery stock, and a large, upright fig. Fred brought a Ficus clump, while Les arrived with a collected Malus, ‘token’ dwarf Spruce and a Betula. The highlight for me was the story behind Les’ collected Birch.

Recently married and on his honeymoon, Les saw a group of Birch’s growing in the corner of a parking lot on a very shallow bed of soil. He immediately grasped the opportunity and dug up every tree in the lot. I regret not getting further details on his wife’s assessment of the situation, but if she wasn’t aware of Les’ passion for bonsai prior to getting married, she certainly was now. Fortunately, Les carries around a bottle of Super-Thrive at all times, so he drenched the roots and hoped for survival. Years later, Les is happily married with one remaining Birch. So, needless to say, that Birch carries some meaning.  

Kim Stevens put on a repotting demo, as he reduced the root system of a dwarf lilac.  And after much discussion, I believe Max and Kim convinced Fred to size down that Benjamina fig grouping.

Thanks to Paul Blajan for capturing these photos and Dana and Mulhall’s for organizing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yamadori Bald Cypress Part I

I have spoken before of bonsai’s unique submission to nature. Generally, this idea is most often conceived or applied when styling or designing a tree, but this time, it had nothing to do with art or philosophy (which I tend to engage in way too much anyway), and more with backaches, sore muscles and a hand-saw. This tree was shipped to me with its root ball wrapped in plastic and covered with a trash bag, so after a few hours of box cutting and peanut pushing, it was time to repot. With a bit of root raking and cutting, I figured it would fit nicely in its new training pot. The temps were bordering on freezing here in Lincoln, so I decided to take this job out to the greenhouse. Never before have I required a wheelbarrow to tote a bonsai.

After some initial raking, clawing and maneuvering, I stared down at my bent-up steel rake and realized plain bonsai tools weren’t cutting it. I broke out a few of the garden tools and began to dig in. Once I managed to actually see the middle of the root ball, it was covered in hardened roots, which had grown to over a few inches in circumference-it appeared the root system had not been tended to after the tree’s collection. I borrowed a hand-saw from my neighbor and began to separate the bottom two-thirds of the root system.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nebraska Bonsai Society Application

I've added a link (to the right) for the NBS member application.  You should be able to complete it on-line since the form is fillable or you can download it as a Word doc and complete it.  The completed application can be sent via Email to the address noted on the application.  Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you run into any issues.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oto Hime Japanese Maple

This was my first tree breaking dormancy this year and has been leafed out for nearly a month now. I’d imagine it’s still adjusting to the shorter Midwest growing season, as it spent its previous life as an apex in Savannah. Last year, I let it grow wild to develop the root system, then after leaf drop, I thinned it out a bit and did some wiring to broaden the spread of the integrated crown. I decided to use a vertical branch from the largest tree to simulate another tree in the grouping. Naturally, this branch’s growth is behind that of the others since this tree is focusing its effort on the apex, but I expect it to catch up. I’m doing considerable pinching to promote some 3-D growth since the front and back are pretty barren. I managed to flatten the root ball enough to plant this piece in a shallow Sara Rayner tray and to lessen the stress of this transplant, I’ve covered the soil surface in a new moss I picked up referred to as Yamagoke, I believe. This stuff rocks – it maintains a nice, even moisture, sits firmly on the surface and is nearly stickless.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nebraska Bonsai Society

Thank you all for attending the seminar at Mulhall's.  For those of you who participated in the workshop, we do plan to have follow-up workshops over the next few years as your tree develops and is in need of further training and root care. 

We will be holding the first meeting of the Nebraska Bonsai Society (if that name is decided upon) at Mulhall's on March 28th at 2:00 p.m.  Be there!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Omaha Seminar & Workshop

I'll be at Mulhall's on Sat. Feb. 27th to lead a seminar and workshop.  The seminar will consist of a Powerpoint presentation that I've been compiling and should be of interest to any skill level.  The workshop is geared more towards beginners and includes a selection of sub-tropical/tropical stock.  You can select the pamphlet below to get a larger, more readable version.