Sunday, 18 September 2011

Keep you eye's peeled. You never know what you might find.

Since I started taking an intrest in bonsai I've developed a habit of looking at potential material every where. Bazarly even in places where I have no chance of collecting it. For instance I will walk around public parks and see a tree with great movement in the base of the trunk and stop to eye it up and work out in my head what options there are there for bonsai. I guess its just my way of training my imagination.

Well on Friday I was working at a huge farm house, one of my regular customers and walking past the compost heap I noticed what looked like three azaleas sitting on top of a pile of grass cuttings. I went in for a close look to find I was right. Three rather large azaleas. One was unfortunately dead but two , although looking a bit of a mess were alive and have shot out new shoots close to the base and on the trunks them self. I found them as you can see in the pictures, just sat in the soil they were dug up with. 
they were on the compost heap along with grass cuttings, pond weed and heaven knows what else. I could clearly see that what ever the reason they were there for they were not very loved and no body had any intentions of doing any thing with them other than letting them die like the third one. When I had finished the windows I went around to the house and asked Mrs Ward if I she had plan's for them and if not could I take them off her hands. She was more than happy for me to take them on but said she couldn't understand what I would want with such old bushes. "We have had them for years Dean. I mean years and years, since the children were young. We dug them up to make room in the spring and they have been there since I doubt there alive". I explained to her that two of them are alive and kicking and that I grow bonsai trees and I would cut them back so that over the following years could hopefully give them a new lease in life. She gave me a smile that said 'good luck with that!' and repeated that I was welcome to them. Luckily I had a couple of rhino tubs in the back of the van for work so popped them in them. Once I got them home I took some photos before I did anything to them. So the photos you see are exactly how the trees looked sat on the compost heap. 
The smaller twin trunk.
Largest of the two.
Once I sat them on the table I could get a better look at them and could see what I had to work with. I found that the trees were covered in pond weed that had wrapped its self around the branches. I think this pond weed may of been a contributing factor that kept them alive.

Before I started working on the tree I asked for advise on the bonsai forum I use Where I was told the best course of action is to clean them up and get them in large pots to help growth. I was told its best not to rush them in to bonsai pots. at least not until there is sufficient new growth closer to where I want it, half way down from where it currently is.

Pond weed on the larger azalea
I got started on Saturday by clearing of the weeds and as much of the pond weed as I could without knocking off any buds or foliage. The smaller azalea was not so bad but the larger one was really thick with it. This is the reason for me thinking the pond weed had helped keep them alive. The larger one is easily the healthiest looking of the two with the leafs being a healthy dark green. There was a little sign of the tree layering its self. By that I mean it had sent out roots to feed on the moist weed but I don't think enough sign to make me think this is the only way the foliage has remained.

I had an old washing up bowl in the shed that suited the smaller azalea for size so drilled some holes in the bottom and potted it with a mix of ericaceous compost, organic soil and horticultural grit. The larger azalea got potted in one of the rhino tubs that I brought it home in. I just cut the top off so it didn't end up in a huge immovable tub. There is no reason to try and bulk up the trunks on these trees so they I don't think planting them in huge tubs will be justified. They both now have double the amount of soil they were in originally in and also better suited soil as its mostly ericaceous.

Smaller azalea in temporary tub

Its hard at this stage to get a good enough photo of the trees as there still shrubs and to large for any good detailed photos. Ideally I would put a black screen behind so your eyes are not distracted by all the back ground. But hopefully you can see, especially from the close up of the twin trunk and what has turned out to be great nabari on the smallest azalea that this will make a good bonsai if it makes it through the winter to get some good growing in the spring and summer. You can't really tell from the photo but it had a bad scar on the left trunk that has created reverse taper. This for those who aren't aware is where the trunk (or a branch) gets thicker as it goes up rather than the desired, thicker at the bottom becoming thinner the higher it gets.

The larger of the two I'm not really sure about now I have managed to clean it out. Mainly because the multi trunks are all leaning quite a bit and I am not sure if I can see much potential there. I will look after it and get it back budding and hopefully when I get the chance to take it up to the Bonsai club one of the guys can help advise me as to where to go with it.

I would upload some photos to weetrees and for ideas from the more experienced bonsai enthusiasts that use the forum but I really don't think any one could get a good enough view from a photo. This really is one of those trees that you need to get up close to and view all around to see any potential.

I will keep you informed as to how these two are getting on later in the year. I hope you enjoyed reading and please feel free to comment especially with any advice you may have. I am always glad to have any

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