I visited the nursery of a good bonsai friend two years ago. At the time he offered me a couple of live oaks, Quercus virginiana, that he had planted in the landscape and needed to get rid of. Naturally I said yes. I’ve never had good luck finding live oaks to collect through the years, so getting hold of some larger material was something I couldn’t pass up.
Today was the day. I was able to collect four good-size stumps, which will take a few years to grow out but given time will produce very nice live oak bonsai.
Here’s one of the larger specimens, sporting a 3.5″ trunk. Oaks of this size are a challenge to collect, since they typically have a substantial taproot that holds them firmly in the ground. Fortunately, my friend has a large John Deere® tractor. We were able to pop the taproot easily.
This tree doesn’t look like much at this point in time, but I can easily visualize a classic live oak with broad spreading branches starting with this stump. It’s going to take several years, but the results should be well worth the effort.
As an unexpected fringe benefit, my friend had some yaupons, Ilex vomitoria, growing in the meadow he’s developing behind his house. I took the opportunity to collect some female specimens (the berries tell the gender – yaupon is dioecious, meaning you have separate male and female plants).
Here’s a nice specimen with taper, great trunk character and movement. Collectible yaupons are not that plentiful, so I didn’t hesitate to tackle it.
If you study this tree, you’ll notice that the tapering comes to an end about 2/3rds of the way up. If I leave the trunk as long as it is now, this flaw will be very obvious as the apex grows out. The only answer is to chop it.
Here’s the result. It’s a shorter tree but will be a better tree. The trunk base is just under 2″, and the height to the chop is 8″. When all is said and done, this yaupon will be about a 14-16″ tall specimen.
Here’s another specimen with loads of character. The dead area of the trunk is what this tree is all about. It’s 1.5″ at the base and 12″ to the chop. I’m thinking this will be a very fun project.
Last but not least is this raft-style specimen. It’s common to see yaupon growing in clumps. This particular specimen featured good trunk character and some taper. I went ahead and potted it in this very nice Byron Myrick oval. Developing the individual trunks should be a three-year project. The two larger ones are about 2″ at the base, the small one 1/2″, and the tallest one about 15″ in height.
With my good fortune today I should have live oaks and yaupons for sale before long. If you’ve been looking for either, let me know and I’ll be sure you’re on our new tree alerts email list.