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Fall cleanup and show-prep of a corkbark Japanese /Black Pine

I have shared this tree on several occasions, and managed to do fall cleanup work around this time last year as well. Here is a link to that post. I’m not convinced the tree has changed any this year, except it has stayed healthy and green. Little victory!

First, cleaning off the moss without destroying the flakey cork bark. The Hachi-gen cultivar develops flakey bark, or tortoise-shell bark, rather than the wings and valleys in many of the nishiki cultivars. If you want to read about it, check out Evergreen Gardenworks’ website. Mine came from there, and is cutting-grown, so I’m ok with the appearance.

First up, remove the moss with tweezers, before:


Pull old needles, and balance out the tree. Since I learned that I’d be showing this tree in Asheville next week, I left it a bit fuller. I had no plans to show it, but it should show ok.

Notice college football on TV? Bama beat Ole Miss pretty easily after the work was done. Light pruning:

A little light wiring to coax some branches into place, moss the soil, and oil the pot…

Good enough for this time. If I wasn’t showing it, and wasn’t in a huge time-crunch, I’d probably prune it harder, thin it out even more, and do a full wire job. Maybe this winter.


Got a phone call…

This is the third time I have received a call from someone related to a former club member who has left behind Bonsai supplies.

The first time, it was pots, stands, and a couple books if I recall. The pot collection did contain a couple Pine Garden Pottery pots; Max Braverman. Look him up if you don’t know him. He’s been gone for a while, but was one of the early American bonsai potters who actually “got it” as it related to the subtleties necessary for making bonsai pots which were usable with bonsai. Those two pots were the haul of the lot, and I kept one, and gifted one to Ryan Bell.

The second time was tragic. He was a friend and club member whom I’d known for years. He died too early. Our club rallied and helped his family sell off his nice collection of trees, pots, and books.

The third time was last week. I don’t tend to answer calls from unknown numbers. Especially from Auburn. But Sarah Kate left a nice voicemail telling me that her great grandmother, “Granny” Margie Brown had been an ABS club member from the ’80s into the early ’00s, and she had a box of pots to donate back to club members. I met her a couple days later and heard stories early club members, about how her Granny had been the club secretary, and was around when the club built the pavilion at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and that she even remained pen-pals with one of the Japanese artists who came to the club to do a demo.

You never know what you’re going to see when you open the box, but I assumed it would be production pots, and maybe there would be a surprise or two in the mix. Here is the reveal.




I took the bin outside and carefully unpacked everything to see what we had.

And a couple surprises…

Fortunately, the nest was abandoned.

The other surprise was this Dutch Clog. Someone will appreciate it, no doubt.

And the collection rinsed down, scrubbed up, and sorted out; plastic pots below:

It’s fun to see some of the surviving old stickers:

Maybe the most unusual is this gray, etched pot:

Fall cleanup of a Shohin Shimpaku

This little air-layer was repotted this year, so I let it grow all year. It grew a bit leggy, because I think it didn’t get enough water! So here it is in late September before any work:

First, unwire and remove old needles:

Next, scrub the trunk to clean it up and remove old bark, then and remove the top layer of old soil:

Close-up, the air-layered base is nice, not always a feature of Shimpakus:

Trim back to bifurcation get shoots. This was challenging on the weaker growth from this growing season:

See some crotch growth and weaker shoots in the mix:


In fact, lots of growth was removed, but the tree still has plenty to work with.

Wired and branches set:

the pads are a little large, and the apex needs to settle in, but not bad for a 5-year old air-layer.

The pot? Shinobu.