My bonsai drive didn't die, but a good number of my starter 'sticks' did! We had a rough winter, with numerous snowfall events where we had snow on the ground for many days (freezing, remelting, freezing - terrible for any potted plant, even worse for bonsai with shallow pots and root systems, that are also above ground.) Most of my 'stick' bonsai in pots, died because they were so young their foilage did not protect their 'earth' properly so snow fell directly on to the soil and root systems - melting and refreezing a few times. Also I did not winterize them fully as I'd planned. (Lessons learned - the hard way..) But.. there's alot to share as I've not been idle, and there are alot of things to show off! Wintering lessons learned, this year will be different indeed.
Left garden box - future bonsai privet, sweetgum maple, red maple, boxwoods
With the help of my best friend Aaron, who's joined me on this bonsai and pottery adventure (more to share on that later), we built 2 garden boxes, this is one (will save pictures of the other for later in the season, you'll see why then!) In this box, are many large girth trees and bush/tree species that I've collected from my back woods last year, and were placed into the ground and allowed to grow 'wild'. These are some big babies, that are all thriving as spring as arrived. We built and moved these trees from one side of my garden to the other, which allowed the reduction and 'shallowing' of their root systems - priming for the future! It's hard to capture this, but it's exciting to see the future branches thickening before my eyes (the real secret to good bonsai - is allowing for proper growth and thickness of branches in the early stages! A lesson I've been shown and now produced on my own with terrific results.
Nice form from a Privet Bonsai
Just a quick picture of one of the survivors from winter - it was not exposed to snow (much) but was also in a deep training pot, which kept it alive. I love it's movement, this one will be a project next spring, letting it stregthen and grow out it's future main branches. This will remain a shohin bonsai, with it's great trunk movement. I'm excited about it, as privet are generally a straight 'upward' growth plant, only snaking when forced by other growth to fight for sunlight. This one was found literally partly crushed by a downed tree, and forced into extreme cicrumstances to get sunlight. Privet, are extremely hardy.. When winterized properly.. *sigh*
Large Azalea begins bonsai life
This used to be an azalea bush that was nearly as tall as me (over 6 foot) that was in front of my house. My wife and I are in the middle of a transformation of our front yard and landscape, so a few old azaleas became my 'babies' for some truly inspiring, large flowering azalea bonsai. This is a beast! It is approx 12" girth, and is sitting in a large garden container, after much reduction already of it's roots. You can see it's size slightly in comparison to my children's swing set that it currently sits next to. Azealas can produce new growth even on extremely old wood, and as I've already found in many places, it is already beginning to send new shoots out in all different directions for future branch selections.. This will be alot of work, and much for me to learn in the process. Species? I'll work on this, but it puts out beautiful large, white flowers.
Large Azalea #2
Here is another, and posibly more attractive flowing trunk on this azalea and nearly as large girth-wise as 'The Beast'. I was able to reduce this one's root system a little closer, and as the other - both are healthy, thriving, and showing new groth already on very old wood (Both date from the building of the home originally in 1991, and I"m sure even at that time, they were a few years old. That puts both I'd estimate at around 22-26 years old, in my opinion. (They are really big!!) This one is approx 11" girth around. I'm seeing a great tree in the future! I don't recall if this one was one of the white flower, or pink flower azaleas from the front - not sure I will see with this season, as the flowering time is already upon us, and I reduced these really right as they were beginning to send out buds. Time and patience.. :)
SO much more to tell, but this is a blog - not a novel.. The drive didn't die, if anything it's increased. I've learned so much through trial and error - and experience now. I'm not pleased that my little trees died, I had alot of hope for producing 'trees' years from now that I could say were my 'originals', but.. Lessons learned. My azaleas and garden trees have bright futures ahead of them. :)