pasture privet parade

Sneak Peek

Cow pastures are the best place to collect Chinese privet. Cattle browse the soft foliage, and in time this produces specimens with great character ….

Pasture Privet Parade


Did you know that cow pastures are the best place to collect Chinese privet? Of course you did, I just said that in the Sneak Peek above. Here’s the thing. Privet is a fast growing broadleaf evergreen or, as some would prefer to say, a fast-growing noxious weed. They grow fast and straight with an untapering trunk or (quite) often many untapering trunks. If you were growing one in the ground, ideally you’d go out every day or three with your hedge trimmers and give it a whack. That’s a lot of work, and you’d have to do it for at least 10 years to get a good result. Unlikely to happen, right?

If you live in a part of the country that’s been invaded by privet, and you have access to cow pastures where they tend to grow near the fencelines, it’s a likely place to find nice specimens. The cows browse. The privets keep on coming back. The process continues. Over time, you end up with privet specimens that have good to great trunk taper and really nice character.

A week ago I harvested about a dozen pasture privets. Here are a handful that are already back-budding. This first one is a good example of a tapering specimen with terrific character that will make a fine small bonsai in short order.

A “Siamese twin trunk” specimen. The two trunks are fused and twisting, and will make an unusual but striking bonsai once developed.

This is one of the larger specimens I brought home. Trunk movement doesn’t happen by itself with privet, so it’s clear to me that this one has been worked on by cattle for the better part of 20 years.

We always want our trees to look older than they really are. This one is old to begin with, but even if it wasn’t the mottled coloring of the trunk would make it look old.

How about this twin-trunk? With a base 2″ across but only standing about 6″ to the higher chop, we’re looking at a very fine shohin bonsai to be.

How about this one? You can almost feel the tough times this privet has been through. It’s another shohin specimen, but will pack a lot of character in a small space once it’s developed.

And the last one for today. You can’t beat the trunk movement and taper, and there’s natural shari on the side and in back. I’m really looking forward to styling this one.

So let me know what you think of my pasture privet parade. If you haven’t grown Chinese privet as bonsai, you should give one a try.