I recently made a trip to the West Coast and was able to squeeze in a few nursery stops. Since life largely revolves around traffic in L.A., I wasn’t sure what to expect as I began my trek, but after an anxiety-tinged commute from Costa Mesa to the L.A. area, I finally made it to Jim Barrett’s place in Arcadia. It was a muggy, hot day, but the air was relatively clear, so I was continually distracted by the mountain range to the north of Arcadia. As I pulled on to Jim’s street, I noticed a beautifully styled pine near the street’s edge. It was a Japanese Black Pine that Jim has been training for a number of years, accented by Black Mondo Grass.
As I pulled up in front of Jim’s house, I noticed a massive Ginkgo, but the base was gnarly and it had a different form than the mature Ginkgo’s lining the street in downtown Lincoln. It was a Chi Chi cultivar that Jim has grown from a cutting since the ‘60’s. The growths that develop, called Chi Chi, from the main trunk can also be seen on other Ginkgo cultivars once they reach a certain age, so the ‘Chi Chi’ cultivar is known more for its distinct growth habit – producing a large number of main and secondary branches, which is unusual for Ginkgo. Also, it does sport smaller leaf, making it ideal for bonsai.
Jim recently decided to part with this Twisted Trunk Pomegranate (more about these in a future post) and was discussing the purchase with a potential buyer over the phone.
After viewing his collection and the stock Jim had for sale, I made it into his pottery shed, which featured a number of his own designs, but also a nice collection of Chinese and Japanese pottery. This page from the Brandywine Bonsai Society’s site shows the variance in Jim's pottery. The rest of the afternoon was spent viewing his pottery catalog and discussing bonsai over a cold beer. Perfect. Check out the rest of the photos...