Unless you are strictly into bonsai as a connoisseur, meaning you collect bonsai and have a visiting or resident artist/curator maintain them for your viewing pleasure, you can’t ever ever stop trying and learning stuff. Now, don’t take that to mean you should learn the same lesson over and over again (I’ve had a few that way); but no one, and I mean no one, ever knows it all. So I have to keep on learning, and so do you. Learning means trying things. If you’re always trying things, you’re bound to get better at bonsai.

Okay, with all that said, collecting season is right around the corner. Most of the deciduous trees here are now dormant, so they are just about in the ideal condition for collecting. They’re sleeping, in other words, having built up their food stores for winter, and that’s when they can be collected with the highest odds of success.



Ordinarily I wouldn’t lift this Huckleberry, Vaccinium sp., until next month. It’s the sort of concept I’ve stuck with for 25 years now, because it’s a known concept horticulturally and I’ve had great success following the script. But why can’t I collect this specimen now? What’s magical about waiting another 22 days to collect it? Well, nothing I can think of. So this is me trying something new, and if it works then I’ve added to my bonsai knowledge.

What if this tree doesn’t survive? What if going straight to this bonsai pot wasn’t a good way to test this idea? I’ll lift another one tomorrow and pot it into a nursery container, so that will give me two subjects to experiment on.

Huckleberry is very easy to collect, by the way. I don’t recall ever losing one, so the survival rate is in excess of 90%.

The tree in the photo, by the way, has a base that’s 1.75″ above the root crown. It’s 17″ to the chop. Huckleberries typically produce nice radial roots, and this one is no exception. I’ve buried them for now; the tree can be potted higher in a couple of years to expose the nebari.

Now for two critical questions, and I’d like your input.

1. Should I remove the right-hand leader? The taper would be much better if I did.

2. And should I remove the secondary trunk?

Let me know what you think.