Tuesday, April 13, 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
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.