It pleases me to share this post with you because it brings closure to a very bad accident this Southwestern white pine endured while en route to the National Bonsai Show in Rochester, NY, in June of 2010. Somewhere between Portland, OR and Rochester, the truck the tree was being delivered in jumped over a curb and the pot for this tree was broken. I don’t know how long it was before the driver discovered it, but maybe it’s best we never know 😉 I was in Bozeman, Montana at the time, out of range of phone service, so I didn’t know what had happened until I returned and the show was over. Look for the full story in ‘International Bonsai’  2012 issue #4. The tree is featured on the cover of that issue, with thanks to Bill Valavanis. It’s amazing how so many fellow bonsaiists worked together to make this tree showable in such a short time…much gratitude from me to all those that helped out!

It took $45 worth of superglue to repair the pot, according to Bill…and that was four years ago! Our winter in Portland was pretty bad, although in context with the rest of the US, we had it easy. Two cold snaps pretty well did the old cracked pot in and I was glad to see the custom made pot from Ron Lang arrive when it did! That’s another story in itself…the pot you see in this post was his second attempt as the first pot cracked during the firing and he had to make another. Let’s put up some images before you lose interest…first is of the tree on the bench and getting ready for re-potting:


You can see the blue bungee cord holding the old, broken pot together…new pot from Ron Lang to the right…17″ tall by 14″ by 14″; wood fired with a nice texture…great job Ron!!

Ron Lang pot

The bottom of the pot with drainage screens in place and 16 gauge galvanized steel wire to secure the tree in the pot

the re-pot area

Here’s a shot of of the work area; the tree is too awkward to take into the garage or move anywhere, so the growing bench had to do! I really like using the old blue tarp on the ground to keep the soil from getting into the grass. Before I move on, I want you to see the curve on one side of the pot I had Ron do to accommodate the trunk of the tree and show it off better. You won’t find a pot like this anywhere else but in my yard.


I couldn’t wait to get started, so I began to remove the broken pot from the rootball of the tree while my assistant was on his way…


I was surprised at how well balanced it was, even as I was pulling the old pot apart; you can see some wood blocks that were used to repair the pot four years ago as well as plenty of duct tape 😉


Feeder root alert! Always like to see these!

feeder root detail

If you look closely, you can see the mycorhizae (sp) hyphae lacing through the soil too…it all leads to a healthy root environment.


So, this is as far as I dared go before having some help…where could he be???


My helper this time was Bobby Cuttright, on loan from Michael Hagedorn’s garden to help with the dirty work 😉

new home

And the tree in its new home; it was a simple matter of removing some of the soil from the perimeter of the rootball to slip the tree into the new pot; I wanted to keep as much of the rootball intact as I could, because most of the field soil came off when the tree was potted the first time in 2010.


And a shot from the front of the tree, prior to tying it in or adding any new soil. It’s important to get the tree positioned correctly, as that’s the way it will be for a long time…hoping not to have to re-pot this guy for another eight or ten years.

working in new soil

Bobby with much concentration working in the new soil with a long bamboo stick; my stick is in the foreground. Amazing how fast this goes with some help. Bobby has really come a long way under Michael’s apprentice program! A note about my soil mix; I used 1/4″ sifted pumice and 1/4″ sifted hard akadama in a 50/50 ratio.


More ‘chopsticking’ 😉

Almost there...

Can you see that hammer in back of the pot? I used it to drive bamboo stakes into the rootball to tie the anchor wires to. It really works well to keep the tree stable in the pot while new roots are growing.

Ready for water!

All ready for water!


Let the watering commence!


Look at that technique! 😉



who needs Yoga when there’s bonsai to be watered?


Checking to see how the new pot is draining…


A parting shot for you…look below my left hand to see the old pot ‘resting in pieces’ 😉

I like to share with you one of my more unusual accents, a succulent I collected in Arizona 20 years ago…flowering now. The Latin name is Graptopetalum rusbyii…I love the flower color, it reminds me of pointsettia.


Close-up of the flower

close-up of graptopetalum

I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter in the story of my Southwestern white pine!