Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! Thanks for your support over a challenging 2020. I hope 2021 restores some normalcy, but I am not convinced we are heading toward a restoration of what seems familiar.

Even though our trees change over time, they offer some familiarity from year to year and it can be sentimental to see photos of the kids when they were little next to a tree that is still on the benches, marking some tiny point in time and a thread through it as the kids are bigger and the trees are still sitting on the benches.

When I see photos of the famous trident maple in the Pacific Rim Collection, I’ll always remember the trip when my daughter played with the soil like the pot was a giant sandbox.

Or this JBP, fresh from Brussels when my son was not yet 2.

10 years later, neither is recognizable!

Kids grow up quick, and the trees are still here. 2020 for our family has been a year of big changes, with our daughter graduating from high school and moving away to college…in the midst of a pandemic. Other significant changes have occurred as well, but fortunately we are healthy and our family is in tact. Time working on the trees has taken a back seat to nearly everything else this year, and rightly so. Maybe 2021 will offer more time with trees, but if not, they will still be here in 2022.

In addition to family goals, I had some pretty lofty fitness goals in 2020. These further put bonsai in the background. This year’s goals will be less aggressive as I strive for some balance. In 2020, my 3 fitness goals were:

1. Close the “stand ring” on my Apple Watch every day of the year, 366 days.

That means standing up and moving for at least one minute of every hour during 12 hours of the day. If you’re not trying, this can actually be difficult if you travel or work at a desk like I do. I achieved that goal yesterday at 4:11 PM. Probably the toughest day was the 15-hour bus ride from Birmingham to DC for my son’s 5th grade field trip, on February 29th. I’m not sure why it shows 365 instead of 366 days:

Like some people do, I had gotten a bit out of shape in my 40s, and found myself weighing in at 210 in late 2018. A strict Keto-type diet helped me get back down to 155 in 4 months, and in shape enough to start running again…which I did. These driver license photos are 2 years apart, fall 2017 and 2019:

2. Run 1000 miles in 2020.

1000 miles meant averaging 20 miles a week. I ended the day yesterday with 1372 miles for the year:

3. Run a half marathon each month.

Due to a knee injury in July, I was forced to revise this goal from 12 to 10 half marathons, which I completed on Wednesday. All of these half marathons were under 2 hours, and my time ended up around 8:25/mile on average, So while I fell short of this goal by 17%, I exceeded my distance goal by 37%.

So while my wife and I reflected on 2020, we set some goals for 2021, and even wrote them down so we can see how we did in a year. I’ll share with you my fitness goals are lowered, 800 miles of running, and 800 miles of cycling. No stand goals this year. That was a lot to keep up with.

How about the bonsai goals, after all, this is a bonsai blog, right? Here are the bonsai goals:

1. reduce the collection for now, down to about 15 large trees, and 10 Shohin trees.

2. rebuild the bonsai garden.

Reducing the collection gets harder each year, but fewer trees means each tree can get a little more attention. Most of my trees have been in pots now for 10-15 years and the work becomes very detailed. Wiring a well-ramified pine or large juniper can take days. At this stage of life, I’d rather have fewer, but better trees. So wish me luck (or make me offers😜).

I really don’t know what that means for the blog yet. Maybe fewer posts, or maybe more-detailed posts. Maybe both. I’ll say this, I enjoy writing and really enjoy photographing trees, so I can’t see this blog dropping off entirely.

Rebuilding the bonsai garden has become a necessity. This is our third back yard and somewhere around my 8th home growing bonsai over the last 26 years, and the microclimate here is miserable. It is wide open and windy, and then the trees are in blazing sun all day, then plunged into the full shade of the house by 3:00 PM each day.

My work schedule required the use of an automatic watering system, which offers some flexibility, but also a “one size fits all” solution, where the junipers and maples get the same water. So, I will be addressing this by making some siting changes in hopes to regain some vigor in the trees. Work changes have allowed me to hand-water more in the last couple months as well.

Here are a few trees that are “keepers” and are definitely on the docket for work in 2021:

So there you go. My 2020 in a nutshell, with bonsai on the fringes. I wish you great health good bonsai in 2021. Thanks for reading.

Some fall color

When weather cooperates, the fall color can be pretty special. Sunny days, low wind, and plenty of water is a great combination for bright leaves in November here. Last year we had an early freeze, and all the leaves were zapped around 11/1. We’re well past that now, and the colors are getting impressive.

Kurume azalea, Koyo pot
Trident maple, Ikkou pot
Trident maple, Ino pot

A couple more “formal” displays of fall color:

Stewartia, Suishoen pot
Trident maple, Yamafusa pot

Have a great Thanksgiving, to our US readers. New posts in a couple weeks.