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BC Collecting Trip #4 For 2020

Today was BC collecting trip #4 for 2020. As usual, we had great luck.This may be my favorite specimen from today’s group. Some BC’s just have that flat-top look, and this is one of them. The base is 4″ and it’s chopped at 30″, which will make a tall and elegant specimen. The flaring root base is outstanding, and the fluting is good too.
It’s easier in this photo to see just how nice this tree is. If someone doesn’t make a flat-top bonsai out of it, I plan to do so myself.
This is the most unusual specimen we got today. It has an interesting root off to the left, what you might call a “flying buttress.” It will work best in a bonsai pot if you can see through the base, so the tree was prepped with that in mind.
You can’t see the flying buttress here, but that’s how we pot ’em.
This is the largest specimen we brought home today, with a trunk base of 4.5″. The photo doesn’t do the fluting justice. It will make a fine upright classic BC bonsai.
Here’s another upright specimen with great fluting up the trunk. The base is 4″.Some of my BC’s from prior years are pushing buds now, and even though we have a couple of cold nights ahead of us I don’t think these trees will hold back much longer. They were collected a good bit farther south than we are, and they do tend to remember where they come from.Let me know what you think of these cypresses.

BC Collecting Trip #3 For 2020

Today was our third Bald cypress collecting trip for 2020. The goal was to bring home somewhat smaller material, mostly in the 3″ +/- trunk size. We were definitely successful.

This is a good example of our haul. The base is terrific, and you can’t argue with the taper and movement of the trunk.

In the pot and buried deep.
This is a very cool specimen. I’m not sure if that secondary trunk can be part of the design, but I’m leaving it for whoever buys the tree (or myself if it ends up hanging around for a while). Regardless, the base is very impressive and I love the turn in the trunk. And of course, you just can’t ask for better taper.
All tucked in.
This one caught my eye. It’s not something you’d make on purpose, but it was out there just growing away and I’m thinking it’s bound to make a unique bonsai. The trunk isn’t huge, just 2.5″ across the base, but it packs a lot of character.
Potted up. Now we wait.
Once again, here’s one that caught my eye. That root you see at the right is not a knee, but it packs so much interest and character I couldn’t not bring it home. There’s a very nice bonsai in this tree.
It still looks great, even buried deep. But once that root gets exposed again in a bonsai pot, this tree will really impress.

Let me know what you think.

BC Collecting Trip #2 For 2020

Our second BC collected trip for 2020 happened yesterday. As often happens, the weather did not cooperate. On the plus side, the rain was not Noah-worthy so we plowed through and got the job done.If you’re into big classically styled Bald cypress bonsai, this is the sort of specimen you’re after. Beautiful flaring, buttressed base, great trunk taper, chopped at just the right spot to grow out and finish up around 40″. This one is just about a perfect formal upright, which for the trees I collect is very unusual.
Here it is in the pot, shown from what should be the best front. The root base is buried, of course, to keep the roots from drying out.
Here’s another one the same size (5″ trunk), but more along the lines of what I usually find. This one will make a superb informal upright BC bonsai of the classic pyramidal style.
And in the pot. I love the fluting of the trunks of these trees, don’t you?
Here’s an unusual specimen. The trunk is the same size as the ones above, about 5″ across (that’s measured up the trunk about 5″ above the soil level once it’s potted), but I ended up chopping it lower because the trunk lost taper above what you see as the chop point. That means this tree will ending making a “stouter” bonsai when all is said and done. The two trees above are chopped at 26″; this one at 19″.
Here it is in its training home.
This is the most unusual specimen I brought home this trip. The trunk is not all that thick, but the flare at the base is just massive and in the final potting of the tree I plan to expose most of it. I’m confident it will make quite a statement!
All tucked in and waiting for the weather to warm up.If we get mild enough temperatures, I expect to see budding on these trees in early to mid-February. At that point or soon thereafter we should know who made it and who didn’t.Let me know what you think of our latest haul.

Huckleberry #5 Potted

Here’s where we left off with Huckleberry #5. With the fall trimming and carving done, I set it back on the bench and got busy with other chores.Flower buds on my Huckleberries are swelling, and a few are already opening. With the mild winter, I expect these trees to begin pushing foliar buds as early as February. That tells me it’s okay to pot up this specimen, which is now two years out of the ground.
First the cleanup. I brushed off the 2019 bark (it exfoliates yearly). Next was some finer carving and sealing those areas with PC Petrifier.
Next came choosing a pot. I’ve always loved this vintage Richard Robertson piece, and I thought it would work great with this tree. But when I set it in, the pot was just too long for the height of the tree.
The same thing turned out to be true of this fine Paul Katich piece. The color was great, depth was fine, it was just too long and I found out the same way as with the Robertson piece.
I think this Lary Howard pot gets me very close to where I need to be. The shorter length of the pot makes the proportions work out much better.I’d love to hear any feedback.

BC Trees With Knees Are The Bee’s Knees

Well, there’s nothing like Bald cypress collecting season, and there’s certainly nothing like a collected Bald cypress featuring a naturally occurring knee. This is a very substantial specimen, as I’m sure you can tell (the tub is 24″ long). Something ran over this tree decades ago, so it just grew the best it could. The trunk has rooted all along its length, so my plan is to attempt to create a raft BC from it. I don’t recall ever seeing one, though I’m sure someone somewhere has done so.

But check out that knee! That’s what sold me on this specimen. It sits right on the recumbent trunk, and I’m confident that once I get some new trunks going it’ll make for quite a composition.

The small tree to the left may or may not be part of the recumbent trunk. It appeared to have fused at some point, but as I worked on the tree it seemed to want to pull away. Regardless, it’s kind of cool for now and I may leave it even after I get the new trunks going. It’s got a fat root crossing over the main trunk, which I like.

So today I really scored. This specimen has two knees growing right on the trunk near the base. I wasn’t expecting them to be connected, but they are. So for my first time ever, today I collected two BC’s with knees. And that’s the bee’s knees!

The trunk on this one is 5″ 5″ above the soil, with a terrific flare. Very nice tree.

This is one heck of a BC specimen. The trunk is 5.5″ about 5″ above the soil, and that fluting and slight twist to the trunk just do it for me. An outstanding piece of material.

I really love the elegant “feminine” BC specimens I often bring home. I’m thinking a flat-top is in the cards for this one. The base is 4″ 4″ above the soil and it’s chopped at 29″. So the tall slender model is what I have in mind.

And lastly, this is a smaller specimen, with a base of 2.5″. But isn’t the taper and movement just awesome? I’m also thinking flat-top for this one, but it could just as easily be trained in the more traditional informal upright style.

So that’s it for my first BC collecting trip of 2020. Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for more posts over the next few weeks.

Tale Of A Hawthorn Cutting

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.

Here’s the tree a couple of days ago, after I pruned off a good bit of the growth. The base of the trunk has thickened some more in the two years since the photo above was taken, and is now right at 1.75″ above the (nice) surface rootage. While I could either leave the tree in this container or plant it out, it’s actually big enough to work with.
A lot more pruning needed doing in order to start simplifying this specimen. It’s not always easy to choose which branches to keep, but in this case it wasn’t all that hard. I had selected a front for the tree years ago, and there was no need to change it.
As you can imagine, the tub had a lot of roots throughout. The easiest way for me to get the tree out so I could really reduce them was to pretend I was collecting it from the ground. So I sawed it out.
I washed off the roots and started cutting. One of the obvious features of the bonsai to be is those surface roots. Now I just need to remove crossing roots and enough root mass to fit the tree into a pot.
This is what I ended up with. The good thing about Riverflat hawthorns is they root very well and vigorously (not the cuttings, but once they have roots they really go gangbusters).
I just got this Chuck Iker round recently, and I think it works very well with this tree. The chop is at 12″. I know that stub at the top looks funny; I left it long to ensure I don’t lose it altogether; I should get buds not only on it but also at the chop point. Once that happens, I’ll prune it back. And I wired out a basic design.You can see in this photo some spots where in the past I pruned off large branches I was using to make the tree get bigger. Though you can’t see it in this shot, they’re already mostly healed. As time goes on, they should add to the character of this bonsai to be.So that’s my tale of a Riverflat hawthorn cutting. Let me know what you think.