Welcome to All in One Bonsa

Bitten by the Bug

Welcome to All in One Bonsai...a blog that aims to remind me of what I have forgotten. Over the years I have been finding out as much as I can about the art of bonsai. I hope the information in this blog will shed some light to the beginning bonsai enthusiast out there.

I saw some bonsai trees at a corner market one night in Taipei and asked the guy if he was willing to teach me how to create these miniature trees. He directed me to a night school where all the instruction was in Chinese. My Chinese ability is very ordinary at the least so although I was learning bits and pieces, I really wasn't getting all I wanted from the course. The best parts were when the teacher would start pruning a beautiful tree or when he showed us how to repot a bonsai. The mystery was still out there but my interest wasn't waning, if anything it fueled my motivation to find out more. And so I did.

Let the adventure begin...

Recently I have discovered the joy of pottery. Bonsai and pottery are close friends so it was only a matter of time before I was introduced to her. Welcome to All in One Bonsai...and pottery.

Feel free to visit my site where you can purchase some of my handmade pottery. Quite a few pieces have been wood fired as it is the prefered method here in Taiwan:

Esty Shop: AllinoneCeramics

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Growing Bonsai Stock

30 months!

Two and a half years ago I bought about 60 small juniper seedlings...

This is them stuck in the ground.

Today, with the help of Annie, Jack and Linda, we managed to dig out half of our bonsai stock.  I call this DAY ONE.  The plan is for me to return this week, maybe under the watchful eye of a friend, Dave, and complete DAY TWO.

I went and bought a shovel the day before and also threw into my bag a strong pair of scissors (bonsai clippers).  Annie's company managed to supply us with some polyester bags which we planned to place the trees into.  Armed with a  few basic tools and a coffee we were off up the hill.

We began by digging a trench around the tree.  We cut at an angle, in towards the trunk.  We took our time and then used the shovel to lift the tree out one by one.  Digging in this way will cut the larger roots growing too far laterally but keeps the root ball in tack.

My nice new shiny shovel.

And pop it up!
Here is our first one.  It's like fishing!

Keep going...40 more!
The idea is to take each tree out, cut the thicker roots and then put them back into the ground for another year.  This way more finer roots will grow around the root ball which will be more suitable for the tree to then be planted into a pot.  We also take the time to cut any branches that are too long - hopefully this will encourage back budding, creating more side branches.

Inspecting the roots.
If you remember last summer I tore some strips off the trunk of the tree's trunk.  I did this to add age into the tree.  It has now healed and looks more interesting.  The illusion of old.

Another one!  We cut the thicker roots, but keep the finer ones.  The goal is a compact root ball.

This is our bigger tree.  Again cutting the thicker roots.

A nice thick trunk.  We decide to put this guy in a polyester bag and place back into the ground.  The bag is made from long fibers and is ideal for water drainage and will keep the roots from growing too long, away from the trunk.  The bag is quite strong and will only break down after about 5 years.  

We wanted to put all our trees in these bags but we found that the trees were too small to do this.  The advantage of putting trees in bags like this is that you can remove the tree at pretty much any time over the year.  You dig out the tree which is still in the bag, lift it up and carry it away!  I like it.

Digging a hole and placing the tree back into the ground.

Giving it a slight stomping.

It wasn't long before some locals came by and stopped for a chat.

This guy lent us his picking tool .  He has planted and cared for trees his whole life.  

Digging a trench around a section of land.  This will catch water when it rains and continue to soak through to the roots of each tree.  I will definitely need some moisturiser for my soft hands after this is done.  Did I just say that!

We decide to take some cuttings from these trees and repeat the cycle.  Here Jack is looking for the best cutting.  The top part has the most amount of energy due to it being exposed to the sun.  We take the top section of each tree and end up with hundreds of potential bonsai trees.

Hopefully, these little guys take and grow roots over this spring.  This is the beginning of their bonsai life.  I can only hope that one day, long after I am gone, that a few of these cuttings turn out to be beautiful bonsai trees in someone's collection. 

Planting these cuttings on a slight angle will give some movement to the truck.

And the cuttings are in!

Spring is the best time to do this type of work.

It is very important to water right away.  This will settle the cutting in the ground and everyone begins to feel more connected and comfortable.

Ok, back to the bigger trees.  We now start to put them all back in. We cut some roots and branches before replanted them.
Compress slightly.

Someone is having a good time!
Another visitor.
Here we have half of the trees back into the ground and have given them a good watering.

We need them to thicken up even more.  Remember that the trunk is the king to any good bonsai.
Thanks for cooperating in our minor surgery and now it is time to re adjust. 
 Wait...what do we see here!

An old tree growing off to the side, covered in weeds.  We find this tree on the land that we have permission to use as we wish.  I decided to dig it out.  It has a fantastic trunk.

It also has some reverse taper but the good outweighs the bad.
Back at home after a huge lunch of chicken, fried rice, tofu and fish soup.  I took a few trees with me that we dug up and add them to my small roof top collection.

This is the tree that I dug out of the ground.  I remove a few roots and dead branches and repot in a free draining soil mix.

A great old trunk.  I have no idea how old this tree is but my guess is probably 30 or 40 years.

Another one that we dug up this morning.  I will let it settle and then try and refine some of the branches to create a more pleasing tree.

At this point I just want it to recover.

Two more junipers.  I was tired, sunburnt and just wanted these trees in a pot.  I didn't give much thought to aesthetics here.

Another one.  I found it a real challenge wiring these trees securely into their pots.  
I managed the best I could though.  This was the last one I did as the sun went down.

Half down and half to go.  I will post the other half later this week.  Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Please visit my online pottery shop at AllinoneCeramics for handmade ceramic pieces.