When I tell fellow bonsai enthusiasts that I’ve had good success collecting oaks in summer, they’re always surprised. And why not? We know that most species prefer to be collected during dormancy, meaning winter. I’ve written before about my own discovery in regard to collecting Sweetgums, namely, that they seem to prefer being lifted in May. But oaks? Who would think of collecting them in summer?
I like to experiment from time to time, testing what’s common knowledge as it were. I first tried my hand at collecting oaks last summer, and found that I had great success all the way into August. So I lifted this Water oak, Quercus nigra, today.
This is a very nice piece of material. The trunk base is 1.5″ and it’s 8.5″ to the chop. Nice taper, and I love the rough, dark bark near the base. I should know in a couple of weeks if it’s going to make it.
Okay, that’s a Water oak and I know already I can collect them in summer, along with Willow oak, Quercus phellos. No new knowledge there. But here’s the real experiment of the day. Can Live oak, Quercus Virginiana, be collected in summer? Now that would be something.
In October 2010 I gathered about 50 Live oak acorns. I planted them in a big tub, then ignored them except for watering and feeding as they sprouted and developed into seedlings. Two years ago I planted the roughly 25 that remained in my field growing bed, along with a handful of larger seedlings I’d acquired in a bonsai club auction. This is one of those larger seedlings, now grown to a trunk diameter of 1.5″. I like the gentle curve of the trunk, and I’m thinking it’ll make a decent broom-form bonsai in a few years. It’s got a good start already.
I went ahead and wired out the branches (positive thinking, eh?). I’ll need to chase them back to get the proportions right, but that’s for another time. For now, we’ll see if Live oaks can be lifted at this time of year. The truth is, I have no idea, but I’d sure like to know.
Have you ever worked with Live oak? My own experience is somewhat limited. I’d love to hear anything you’re willing to share.