It’s Huckleberry collecting time, and today I harvested a hefty one. Here it is, right out of the ground with the roots washed off. The trunk base is 2.5″ above the root crown. This is about the trunk size limit for the species, as near as I can tell. I’d estimate the age at 25-35 years.
Those of you who have followed my work for any length of time know I’m a firm believer in chopping roots hard. Why? It’s all about the bonsai pot. If you can’t get the roots you’ve chopped into a bonsai pot, with some room to spare for the new roots that are going to sprout from the cut ends, you’ve just handed yourself a big future headache! Yes, I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and more than once. But I do learn, even if it’s sometimes a slow process. So these roots are cut back enough to comfortably fit the bonsai pot this tree will go into. Is the tree at risk? Absolutely not! When you collect deciduous and broadleaf evergreen trees, you’re removing not only most of the root but also most of the branching as well. This balances the tree perfectly, so when new roots and shoots get going there’s no undue stress. The tree “wants” to live, and it does what it has to in order to live. (Note: Boxwoods are a special case among the broadleaf evergreens, in that you have to leave foliage on the branches or you risk losing them; you can thin the branching, just don’t cut back to a bare trunk or branches.)
Here I’ve reduced the trunk to its proper line. I’ve also turned the tree. Is this a better front? It does have something going for it.
This is the better front. If you compare this photo to the one above, you can see the trunk has a little curve in it from this angle and that’s definitely better. There’s also a good rootage presentation from this angle as well.

And here’s the tree potted up. The trunk is chopped at 15-16″, which should produce a finished height of about 24″ or so. I love the color and character of the trunk, and I’m confident this Huckleberry is going to be a fine bonsai in three or four years.

Let me know what you think of this specimen.