tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

I never meant to do this

About fifteen years back I was living in a rental that had a huge old red-leaf Japan Maple. The size of which I have never seen before or since. It was busy each year making volunteer seedlings. By the thousand.

Me being a tight-wad yankee found it distressing to kill these saplings as I mowed. So I started putting particularly brilliant red ones into pots. Inasmuch as I had gardened for many years, of course I knew just about everything one needed to know about a tree inna pot. Right? Wrong! They would grow for while and then die. Repeat several hundred times.

No really several hundred times. My head shrunk down to a more managable size and I started researching what the horticultural needs of trees in pots were. The more I read the more of 'my' tree I saw trained as bonsai.

The more I supported those long ago trees as if they were bonsai, the better they did. Twiggy and not near the sculptural as trees in long training had b-u-ttt. The hook was set and this fish was caught.

Touring nurseries, reading (and shopping) on line made the whole proccess fun and reasonably afordable.

None of my first several years of endevour were directred at keeping tender trees in frosty new england. I took a new companion job based solely on the fact that it had a large vacant (and untended) back yard that the program manger wanted someone to do something with it.

This was very much like the beagle Boys being given the keys to Uncle Scrooges bank vault. Bed after bed filled this unused (and unwanted) space. I planted out as many hearty understory trees-shrubs as I could determine that might have some potential for pot training.

Fast forward a decade. My old-old program manger had retired, her replacement went out out on maternity leave, The newest new program manager thought that any yard not paved in macadam was unsuitable for human habitation.

While I had started pulling trees about year five, to return them to pot-culture I had literally hundreds of trees in beds and an overtly antagonistic program manger.

Tree slaughter began. I fostered trees to anyone who would either tend them as bonsai, or plant them as landscape trees. freecycle became my freind. Too many simply went under the shovel. There was no one to take them away.

I retrired to be be near my daughter with the fifty or so trees that I simply was not finished tinkering with.

If there is a sermon in this story, beyond moderation in all things, it is; virtually all of my trees to this day live all of their life outdoors as bonsai.

I didn't 'get it' then, and don't now understand why people try to bring (and keep) indoors trees that mostly need a bench out of doors. Not merely when the weather is cold (for tender trees) but even with hearty trees that providence never intended to live inside. I guess I could blame mallsai or big-box store vendors, but I suspect it runs closer to my old hubris, of 'I can do this' without ever readiing a line of tray culture.

Please if you live in an urban setting, stop by a used book store and get a used copy of the old Brooklyn Botanic Society Bonsai pamphlets. In them you will see old Zeko Nakamura and his trees, grown mostly in the confines of downtown Tokyo.

Thank you for bearing up under my confession and sermon. :)
Think like a tree
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JTred
Green Thumb
Posts: 380
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:05 am
Location: Elizabeth, PA

That is a really wonderful (and somewhat sad) story. It's appalling to me that someone would want to destroy a garden and replace it with pavement, but it seems like you got a lot of good years and learning out of it.

I'm glad you took the time to look back at your roots (pun intended :P) in bonsai, as it helps those of us who are just starting out learn something. Thank you for your story.

-Jack

TomM
Greener Thumb
Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: Cedarville (SE of Utica) NY, USA

tomc - Welcome!! Thanks for coming on board.
I, too, enjoyed the sermon. Some of us oldtimers are needed around here to offer counterpoint to the newbies who are in awe of their hobby. It's fun to look back at our roots indeed.
Stick around.
'nother tom :lol:

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froggy
Senior Member
Posts: 269
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:54 pm
Location: Toronto, ON, zone 5a

Funny, I just mentioned to my hubby yesterday - I may not have anything that looks like a bonsai yet, but all this reading up on them is sure benefiting my house plants :)

I'll just take it slowly :D - as if there was any other way :P
;)

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Its probably time to bump up one of my earliest posts here.

Please read up on your new tree, trial and error mostly means your gonna kill a lot of trees, before you relearn how to care for yours.

I will however cherish the pots you discard at yard sales if you don't. ;)
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

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koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

Hi Tomc,
I enjoyed your story about your bonsai and pleased that you still looking after them after all these years, best of luck for the future.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

I'm bumping this back to the top, not cause its such good writing, rather it will (I hope) comfort some new growers.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

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manofthetrees
Senior Member
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Location: west seneca ny

ha, old and new alike...thanks for the bump up. it reminds me of all the pesky seedlings from my neighbors tree that i yanked from my garden before i was bitten by the b-bug . now i cherish everyone i find and am building a forest , i find it weird that now that i want them there just isnt as many as there used to be :(

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