Tag Archives: Yamadori

Emergency Repot

I recently watched a Bonsai Mirai video about post collection care with world renowned collector Randy Knight. He spoke frequently about his sawdust bed that he uses to heel in “danger trees.” I got the opportunity to try that myself as I came home to what I’m pretty sure was a great lizard chase by my dogs…

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Randy discusses that he uses coarse sawdust, not small particles. I happened to have a friend that uses a lathe and has been giving me black trash bags full of sawdust for awhile now.
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A couple of tips when using sawdust:

  • Make sure to wet it REALLY well. The first time you soak sawdust it absorbs a ton of water and has a hard time getting everywhere, so make sure to be liberal with the water you’re using.
  • Pack the sawdust in good and chopstick or poke around to get the sawdust into whatever root system is there.
  • Layer several inches of sawdust on top of what would be the rootball. This helps to keep any major fluctuations in water or temperature from the rootball.

Here are photos of me digging down and checking the moisture after watering for awhile.

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Packing in the sawdust for a final time.
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After packing and before adding another bag on top.
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After adding and wetting the top layer of sawdust.

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After securing the tree in, I went to further inspect the damage.
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I pulled out portions of the leftover root system to see how the roots were doing before the wild lizard chase. I was mostly pleased with what I saw.
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Plenty of capillary roots growing. Randy also mentioned that new roots almost never grow in the leftover field soil, but in the pumice immediately around the field soil.
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While I had to experience this sad destruction of my collected California Juniper, I’m glad I was able to see that I was having success with what I was doing. Hopefully I don’t have another casualty on my hands.

California Collection Checkup

It is time to do a cleanup of the California Juniper that I collected. My goal here is to remove all the dead foliage to be able to identify any changes in the healthy foliage, and provide better aeration and mist penetration for the remaining foliage.

Here are 4 photos of different portions of the tree before the cleanup. IMG_4396IMG_4397IMG_4398IMG_4399

Here are a few before and after photos side by side:

After doing this initial clean up I went back and removed small pieces that I missed. I identified a few places that might be turning yellow around the tree. I’ll keep a look out for those portions in the coming weeks.

Here’s the beauty after I was done.
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Soon it’ll be time to move outdoors and get some shade!

 

Blackbrush Bonsai

I’ve been doing some searching recently for Mojave Desert native plants that would be serviceable for bonsai. Enter Coleogyne ramosissima. This bush has tiny leaves, flowers, is long-lived, and has awesome gnarled bark. While researching this bush I stumbled upon this website that had invaluable information: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/colram/all.html 

Within the link it explains that these bushes typically grow in areas where caliche impedes deep roots, and that the majority of the root mass is below the plant within 4″ – 12″. This is a realistically collectable species. What is also great news is that these are everywhere and commonly bulldozed around where I live. Perfect, a trash tree has now become my treasure. Hopefully they’re easier to collect than the California Junipers that also fit that bill.

Here are a couple that I scouted out while I was looking for the best candidates to pick out for the next appropriate collecting time.

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Hopefully I’ll be able to grab a few good ones this next Spring or late Summer.

California Juniper Yamadori

Yamadori Post-Dig Care

To see the removal process I went through to get this baby out read my earlier blog post. I got the bagged California Juniper home and began unwrapping so fast that I forgot to take pictures of it happening…
I made sure to make the cuts clean to facilitate root growth once potted up. Make sure to do this on all of the large cuts you make to the roots. 

Here you can see all of the smaller roots coming out of the root ball.

I cut these clean off right at the edge of the soil. This is another place that roots will emerge. Typically these are ripped and not cleanly cut. Leaving them without a clean cut can be a major factor when the tree is trying to recover. 

Afterwards:
After that I cut back the long thick roots to better be able to fit this into a container. I made sure to do so without moving the root ball and shaking any more soil loose.

Here is the prepared container. I drilled holes in the bottom, and used several 2×6’s that I’ve “saved” from various burn piles.


Then after I strung wire through and laid the bottom layers of soil, I set the tree in to get it secure.

The purpose for using the wood to decrease the size of the box is so that there aren’t any large gaps of solely pumice. Pumice and the native soil are vastly different, so you would end up with large pockets of dry pumice and the root ball of soil would still be wet. Having a smaller area helps to keep them similar in water and oxygen balance. 
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As you can see here, I used the higher branches to secure the tree into the container. I did this because the soil and root ball weren’t held together well enough to use as a sole anchoring point.

After chopsticking the pumice in to fill the gaps I ended up with this. 
I then moved it to a better location in my garage on top of a heating mat to keep the root temperatures favorable for root growth.
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To use the new handy update on the iPhone I took these as well:
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Hopefully you’ll read the updated post on this tree when it begin pushing new growth. From all I can tell the dig was a success and should yield a healthy tree within the year.

California Juniper Yamadori Collection

Last year I tried collecting a California Juniper and failed at the post collection care part. This dig went much better. I was able to be better about the transferring to the pot without losing any additional soil.

This was a close up of the trunk of the tree I dug. For some reason I didn’t get a backed out shot of the whole thing, oh well :/
Here it is a bit more zoomed out. The best I got.

I took a trenching shovel to dig the initial trench instead of a drain spade. It had recently rained which helped, but using a thinner shovel really helped to get down quicker and find the thick roots that I needed to cut.
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Here are some photos of the trenches I dug before widening the trench to get underneath the root ball. Here I began to wide the trench to be able to dig under the root ball to get to the taproot. 
Once I completed the circle the tree literally just leaned over. For a minute I thought there might not be a taproot on this tree. 
However, I was incorrect. There definitely was a taproot. While trying to reduce the root ball to a size that was conceivably moveable, I lost big chunks of dirt that took a bit of fine roots with them.

The taproot with my hand for size. 
When I lifted the tree out of the hole, I lost a huge chunk off of one side that didn’t feel the need to come with me back to the house.
I set the tree into the bag and secured it with an extra roll of electrical tape I found laying around.

Now for the slow and careful drive back home. I paid attention to the potholes on the way out to know where to look on the way home.

Siberian Elm

The Siberian Elm is a trash tree in the landscape. They drop branches, sprout up everywhere, and have that great attribute that all Elms have, they’re hard to kill.

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While they aren’t the most common species for bonsai, they can be fantastic trees if handled correctly. Letting it grow too vigorously will result in die back of other more refined branches.

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Nothing amazing rootwise, that’s for sure.

The taper and movement on this particular one that I dug up out of my yard was fantastic. For being an almost 2 year old weed, I was pretty pleased.

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I made sure to be prepared this time before digging.

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I decided to cut almost all the branches off. This will allow me to grow the branches in the places I want them. There was one useful branch that I wired into position.

The plan would be to let it recover for 2-3 years in this plastic container and style it as it grows out. Then from here it’d move into a finished bonsai container for further refinement and leaf reduction.