April 13, 2021

Origins of the Risky Rose & Steps for Transplant Recovery

 Source material: 2/09/2018

            As the weather continues to warm up and frosts become rarer here in Ohio, repotting season is on its tail end - if you're not already finished with it. I'm hoping to squeeze in my last few this week and also plan ahead for future bonsai by sowing my newest batch of seeds. In the spirit of finishing the repotting season, I was also planning to post the second major repot I did this year - once which involves substantial risk and reward. For now, that's all you'll get about it because, in the spirit of breaking my habit of writing overly long articles, today we have to first take a trip back in time and discuss the history of my gargantuan rosebush landscape-origin/yardadori prebonsai. It has perhaps the largest trunk rose I've seen in the bonsai world (not that they're a common bonsai subject to begin with!).

Sections

1. History of the Risky Rose
2. Current Repot Operation (Next post)
3.  Blog Announcements

Possible planting angle #1 (This is how it was originally buried).


1. History of the Risky Rose

            This rosebush originated from the same era of my life as the previous post's Mulberry. While attending the University of Washington for my undergraduate degree, I didn't have a car and had to take buses, ferries, and Ubers to reach Elandan Gardens for my informal apprenticeship, but nonetheless, I was still hellbent on fitting in my bonsai time and adding to my collection where I saw the opportunity. Luckily, 3 years ago, I stumbled upon a huge rosebush. It was freshly uprooted, bare-rooted, and destined for a grisly death by city compost compactor. 

            Most of the homes in my neighborhood were rentals so landscaping was an afterthought. Since I was confident the owners didn't want it, I liberated the poor plant and analyzed its prospects for its new life as a bonsai. In the picture above, the reddish bark shows the part of the trunk that used to be buried. Some species of trees that clump at ground level accumulate massive trunks underground as the clumps merge into feeding one mass of roots. When looking for potential bonsai material, that's the kind of thing you will never find out without a little dig-vestigation. You can see above the main trunk is about as thick as a pop can is tall and maybe a foot and a half long just in the previously buried section. In the pictures below, let's play with different planting angles that the tree could be viewed at to better utilize its entire trunk.

I guess semi-cascade was an option too... I was not a fan in this case though. Planting angle #2.

Possible planting angle #3.
Possible planting angle #3 full-view. You can see the bush has many stems coming off only a few places.
Planting angle #3 from an alternate front. I'm starting to like this one...
Planting angle #3 from the opposite front as above.
Still on planting angle #3, just a bigger picture of where the roots and branches land in it.

            Okay, y'all can clearly see I arrived on planting angle #3 as my future goal. As with the front, the exact future angle is uncertain and can be played with more later when the tree has more substantial roots. Generally speaking though, I like that angle #3 will allow us to appreciate and use the entire trunk that used to be buried and imparts some eye-catching movement in the trunkline as the above-ground trunk splits off into another direction.


            Before we can achieve the radical transformation to planting angle #3, as with most things in bonsai, we must take baby steps to help the tree evolve towards our goal. On this day in 2018, it meant planting our new prebonsai at its old planting angle in a large training pot with a 100% pumice soil mix to encourage healthy roots and recovery. This is especially needed because the lower right end of the root mass (see above) does not have many roots! Yet, for planting angle #3, we need the tree to rely entirely on roots in that section so the rest of the formerly buried trunk can be exposed. The transformation is possible, it just takes time and planning.

I used this old milk crate I found in an alley and lined it with window screen to contain the soil. In hindsight, this size of window screen got clogged a little too easily and I'm now testing a bigger size.

Some long roots were shortened and some roots on the top of the trunk were removed to begin the tree's new path.
            The tree was mostly left to recover for the first year. It was placed in a shady part of the garden and water levels were closely monitored for dry soil or wilting foliage indicating a need for more water. Thereafter, our rosebush tree put on mild growth year after year. After moving it across the country to Ohio it has remained in remarkable health. Vigorous growth and backbudding are good signs, hence I knew it was ready to take the next step in its transformation. In next week's post, we will compress a 3-year wait for a dream into an instant. Stay tuned!


2. Current Repot Operation



3. Blog Announcements

  1. Submit your trees for critique or advice here. I need new trees for the next Bonsai Buds episode! Guest announcement TBD.
  2. Contact me if you ordered seeds from me last year and they did not germinate. Now is the perfect time to plant!
  3. 6 New seed types are now on sale on my Etsy store with my 10-year bonsai growing guide. I have some unique ones such as Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Shore Pine, and more. See if any catch your interest. 
    1. I also recently updated the Seed-Growing Guide for 2021 with new pictures!
    2. Baseline bulk options and pricing also updated. Now you get more seeds for your buck!

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