Here’s a Red mulberry, Morus rubra, that I’ve had on the bench for over a year. It was in an oversized pot, and had thrown branches that were six feet in length. Starting this year it gets to be a shohin bonsai. Last week I did a number of it, top and bottom, and it fit nicely with all that coaxing into this Chuck Iker round. I think it’s going to make a great composition. You probably can’t see in this photo, but it’s got lots of green buds that are swelling and should be open in a week. Styling it is going to be a lot of fun.
I enjoy making new bonsai material by taking cuttings from the trees I work with. I also enjoy working with the species Riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca. Unfortunately, those two pleasures seldom happen together.
I have found Riverflat hawthorn cuttings to be extremely difficult to root. Maybe it’s operator error, but maybe it’s just a quirk of the species. Regardless, this photo represents a single specimen I got to take about six or seven years ago. It’s been completely container grown since that time, and this is how it looked back in 2017. That’s a standard small concrete mixing tub which measures about 24″ long by 18″ wide, to give you an idea of scale.
My big Riverflat hawthorn had mostly green foliage last weekend, with just a hint of yellow on a few leaves. Though they are very hardy and this one was on the ground, the foliage most definitely did not like 22 degrees. So I got what I guess you’d call pseudo fall color, a bronze set of leaves. It’s actually pretty attractive, though I’d have preferred it if the weather had been more cooperative.
We’re now into the latter stages of fall, which means winter will be here soon. That also means collecting season, which I’m really looking forward to. I expect to have a lot of great new material come 2020. If there’s something you’re looking for, feel free to email me and I’ll be glad to put your name on my wish list.
Today I did a one on one workshop with a new bonsai enthusiast. One of the specimens we were worked on was a three-tree Parsley hawthorn composition, very similar to this one. I love bonsai forests. The three-tree planting is the smallest expression of this style of bonsai. While this may seem like a real challenge, you can evoke a great deal of emotion in a very small space with just a few items. In this group there’s dramatic tension, complementary movement, depth, and perspective. It doesn’t get much better than that.
(This specimen is available at our Hawthorn Bonsai page.)
Yesterday was my first one-on-one workshop for 2019. We got a lot of work done, mostly on three large BCs. This is a great time of year to do just about everything bonsai. Problem is, it’s hard to get it all done!
Right now in my garden we’ve completed first flush, and than invariably means trees that need a first trimming for the season. Below we check in on my big Riverflat hawthorn (I really need to name this tree).
This tree continues to rock along. Last year it got a new, larger home that suits the tree perfectly. And it’s clearly happy; the elongted shoots tell the tale.
A couple minutes of work later, here we are.
This is one of those trees I could study all day long. I never get tired of it.
Spring is also the time for making new bonsai. I had a great time today putting together a couple of new three-tree Parsley hawthorn groups. These smaller specimens naturally lend themselves to this style of bonsai.
And one more. There are two things to remember when you’re creating forests of tall trees: one, be sure that your tallest tree(s) have their foliage concentrated in the upper half to third of the trunk; and two, don’t let the branch spread get out of hand. If you observe these two rules, your trees will look quite mature and believeable.
All in all, it was a great bonsai weekend. The weather was great, and the trees even better.