The subject of today’s post is a little lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta, that I collected in August of 2008 in the Washington Cascades. I found it growing all by itself in the center of a chunk of lava in what seemed to me to be an impossibly small crevice. I was able to get enough root to keep it going and was able to pot it immediately into a bonsai pot using pumice, akadama and lava as the soil. It stands 7″ tall from the rim of the pot, is 8″ wide and the trunk diameter at the soil is now at 1 3/4″. It grew well in its first year and I decided to wire it in the fall of 2009. I pruned one branch off the tree that was way too large; all the rest of the branches are what this tree had naturally. It isn’t often one stumbles upon a natural shohin size pine, I really felt fortunate the day I discovered this little tree. The needles have been reliably small and stay relatively straight which isn’t always the case with lodgepole pines. It also has a nice stout little trunk with rough textured bark–an indicator of age. I can only estimate this tree’s age–the only sure way would be to cut it in half and count the rings. But I do know it takes decades for young lodgepoles to obtain a rough textured bark like this.

In the spring of 2010, our club, the Bonsai Society of Portland had its annual show at the Japanese Garden and I thought this little pine was ready to show in public. The club has a ‘people’s choice’ award it gives to the best conifer, best deciduous and best shohin trees in the show. My decision to show it paid off because it was awarded best shohin that year! The first photo up is the display the tree was in at the show–it’s the little pine at the top:

Here’s a close-up of the tree. It’s sharing its shelf with the trophy:

The pot it was in happened to be one that was available at the time and was the right size for the tree. After you have a tree in a pot for in this case two years, you begin to think about other possibilities both with the pot and the tree itself. Do I want to change the angle of the tree? Do I want a slightly smaller pot? Would the tree look better in an unglazed pot? All these questions spring to mind as we go about the daily task of watering, fertilizing, weeding and all manner of little tasks necessary in keeping small trees in small pots 😉 So in the spring of 2011, I bit the bullet and re-potted this little tree into a shallower and narrower unglazed pot by Michael Hagedorn. It’s oval in shape and suits the tree because the curve of the trunk; if it had a straight trunk, I’d go with a rectangle. Here is the tree in its new digs, photo taken in December of 2011, after a successful growing season in the new pot:

I’ll show a shot I took of the back side of the tree too as some have suggested they like this better than the current front I have for it:

The tree budded strongly this spring and has already hardened off needles. I will fertilize lightly this summer and this fall it will have to be wired again. I’ve also begun to cut back some of the stronger branches near the apex. I’ll re-visit this tree this fall after styling it.