Monday, June 10, 2013

Time is on your side...if you can slow down

Being able to think about time in a different manner than most people is an essential skill in bonsai.  The payback on some actions often will not be evident until some time down the road.  I think part of this skill is gained once you realize that you are working within a bandwidth dictated by the natural pace of growth and no faster.  Once you can settle into the seasonal rythm of the way trees grow and really understand it...progress comes quickly, relatively speaking ;)  Learn to let your trees grow and adjust your thinking to the pace at which they grow.  Slow down your pace to make quick progress.  In many ways bonsai has some benefits to other parts of life.  Not being reliant upon instant gratification can have many benefits.

Besides that, just letting a tree grow takes discipline. Doing NOTHING is tough and does require some restraint and self-discipline. In the end you can accomplish more by doing NOTHING.  For me...a slightly OCD and task oriented person this was hard to grasp. Now that I have it, its wonderful.

Below are a couple of my trees that can illustrate this point.  I call it the three year rule.  I think at a minimum it takes three years to begin seeing the fruits of your good decisions.  I've had each of them for about three and a half growing seasons and have patiently applied a solid seasonal regimen and its now paying off with strong healthy trees that are reaching their potential.

This is a fairly old Japanese black pine.  It was loose in the pot but had terrible drainage, dull needle 
color and no back budding.  I repotted the tree and found poor roots.
I left the tree to grow wild for a season with no work.....just let it be a tree.  I fertilized heavily and gave it plenty of full sun.

Below the tree is growing vigorously and growing new roots and gaining strength.  

That was two years ago.  Below is this years crop of new shoots. Healthy and green with twice as many growing tips as before.  Next year I will repot and figure out the new planting angle.

Below is a kishu shimpaku which was in horrible soil and had been kept primarily in the shade for years.Gradually it had declined to the state you see below. Pale gray/green and leggy foliage.

The tree had some remaining potential to be rescued in the trunk line.  The first priority was to take the time needed to improve the tree's health.  Fora juniper this involved  getting oxygen and air exchange wihtin the root ball and  getting the tree some much needed sunlight.

The second year I did some basic wiring and compacted the trunk further to reduce the height.

Below is the current state and the tree is on it way 3.5 years later with a brighter future in sight.

Thats it for now, hope you enjoyed and this was some vale for you.

Happy growing.