Archive for November, 2012

Ignoble Fir?

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve got a bit of a reputation for doing some pretty ‘out there’ stuff with trees. Once in a while I give in to my urge to let go and just have some fun with it…and such is the case with the subject of today’s post, a little noble fir I dug out of a long-abandoned logging road shortly after I arrived in Oregon. I was new to the area and anything looked good to me because it was such a change from living in the Sonoran Desert. This poor little fir had been driven over by an ATV which gave it the character to cause me to stop and take a second look at it. I potted it into a dollar store plastic collander and two years later, in 2008, I wired it:


Check out the mushrooms growing out the side on the left:


Sorry for them not being in focus! Let’s try another shot:


I’m not sure what they are,  but I’m calling them chanterelles. They’re kind of the same color as a chanterelle anyway…

This little tree grew like crazy over the next few years and I decided to find a pot for it. I like to go through old dumps I run across on my hikes and found a pretty rich source of junk from one in particular. It had the old ‘bones’ of some household appliances along with some old automobile parts that somehow followed me home 😉 I happened to find the burner well from an old electric range that was a dead ringer for a namban if I ever did see one (namban is Japanese word for the ceramic lids to vessels that were used to feed ducks; bonsai artists drilled drainage holes in the bottom of them and used them as containers for bunjin style trees) This little fir was quirky enough, I felt, to merit such an unusual container. The next shot is the tree in its new ‘pot’. It’s also sporting a new styling done recently:


In case you’re wondering what that thing it’s sitting on is, think of it turned upside-down and mounted on a wheel–it’s the business end of an old garden cultivator I found in yet another old dump. I thought the two made an interesting combination together…what do you think?

Fall color

We’ve finally got our rain back here in the Northwest and with that, more time indoors to go through the few photos I’ve been able to capture between the rain and flat, gray light. My trees seem to be a bit confused this fall because our spring was so cold, summer came late and we’ve had no cold weather yet to speak of. So, I tried to get what I could with the little I’ve got. Here’s the forest of Japanese mountain maples I grew from cuttings that was featured in the last post to this blog:


Another forest in training; this time the species is Vine Maple:


Fall color on vine maples can be a bit difficult to achieve if you’re not careful about where to site your tree; leaves get sun scorch very easily and generally look pretty ratty by the fall. Next up is a shohin vine maple I posted in an entry earlier this summer. Color isn’t stunning, but still nice and adds a little seasonal interest:


Another shohin size tree, Horse Chestnut, from seedling:


My Boougainvillea decided to flower too:


If you’re wondering what the netting is for, it’s to keep the birds from rifing through the soil; we had one of the driest summers on record here in Portland and my pots had the only moist soil for them to search for insects. The English sparrow is the real culprit and a non-native species to boot! While on the subject of flowers and tropicals, here’s a shot of a Serissa in flower with a bee in paradise:


And my night-blooming Cereus cactus put on a late show:


Back to the trees–a Black Huckleberry with a little splash of color. I posted this in an earlier entry too:


A very little Arctic Willow from cutting:


A little Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta latifolia also featured in an earlier blog entry:


There’s a trunk in there somewhere, I promise you!  Our club hosted the Pacific Northwest Bonsai Clubs Association convention in September, where I set up a couple of tables as a vendor. Jim Gremel came up from California and kept me amused when things got quiet. He had some of his killer cedars with him and I just had to have this one, so I traded a mountain hemlock and an Engelman spruce for it. I love the color of the needles!


Jim tells me this was grafted to deodora rootstock and that the trick to getting movement into the trunk is to start them while still young. Trying heavy bends on an old trunk is very risky as they have a tendency to snap like a carrot and break clean so there’s not a strip of cambium to save the tree. It’s nice to get one that has all that going in…I’ll wrap it up with a shot of a common juniper I did a little work on between showers. This is the mother tree of ‘CJ’ the subject of a couple of entries this summer:


The sun just broke through the clouds, so it’s outside for a rare ‘sun break’ (never heard of that in Arizona 😉