So you’ve already seen the wintry cover that blew in yesterday for me. Our high today looks like being about 38F, and this means a lot of things remain and will remain frozen at least until tomorrow. Does that stop the bonsai collector? Bah!
So here’s a Willow oak, Quercus phellos, I’ve been growing in the ground for a few years now to thicken up. It’s done just what I had in mind early on, namely, grown two trunks from near the base which would eventually produce a nice tapering shorter specimen. Even though I have two options for chopping, my eye is on the thinner of the two trunks.
Step one was to chop the trunks down to remove the bulk of the growth and allow me to get closer to the base. By the way, you may see advice along the lines of leaving the trunk of your specimen long so you can use it as leverage when you’re ready to bend the tree over and get at the taproot. This doesn’t work in practice – you can only use about two feet of trunk to do this. Anything past that tends to be so flexible it just bends over and does you no good.
Here’s the tree, out of the ground with the roots washed off (in a puddle – my watering system is still frozen solid) and cut back to fit a bonsai pot.
And now the key chops are made. Don’t these proportions look awesome? The tree has a base of 1.5-1.75″ and is now 7″ to the chop. I see a finished height of less than 12″, which means this is going to be a shohin Willow oak bonsai in 3-5 years. Notice the awesome radial roots!
I happened to have a couple of tubs of soil stacked one atop the other. This is the only reason I had soil to work with that wasn’t frozen into a solid chunk. I also had to water the tree in that shallow puddle of water left over from the storm, as that was all I had outside to work with. But no matter. You can’t stop the bonsai collector!