Sunday, 28 August 2016

Collecting a Privet from the Garden

Once upon a time there was a skinny little privet which popped up uninvited in our garden, only inches from our boundary wall. Fearing that it would do damage as it grew, my mother instructed our garden service to remove it.

Although I was still pretty new to the art of bonsai back then and saw no bonsai potential in it, I hated the idea of killing it, so just in the nick of time I persuaded her to have them relocate it to a more suitable position in our garden.

In its new spot the little privet thrived and, despite the fact that I never allowed it to grow much above five feet tall, in time it developed into a sturdy triple trunk tree. After a few years I began to see its bonsai potential and (fearing another move would kill it) I began to wish I'd had them plant it in a pot instead.

Finally in November 2014 (early summer) I decided to risk the move and have them dig it up once more.

The dig - November 2014

Once it was safely out of the ground I was presented with an excessively tall tree with the remains of a heavy tap root.

Before potting

It took all my strength to reduce it to a more suitable height and remove enough of that root to allow me to squeeze it into the biggest pot I had.

After pruning and potting - November 2014

By the time the job was done I really feared for its survival.

Fortunately it was soon pushing out lots of new growth and by January 2015 it was covered in new branches and foliage.

January 2015

I was longing to take it to a workshop, but I knew I had to be patient so I left it to do its own thing for the rest of the summer and most of the winter. Finally in July 2015 I took it to a club meeting looking for advice on how to proceed.

I was a bit disappointed when everyone I spoke to recommended that I split it into three separate trees. However I had to be honest with myself and I realised that from a practical point of view the separation would be the best option for ME because I would never be able to cope with the weight of that group once it made it into a bonsai pot.

The next day I took the group to a workshop, where some strong men did the muscle work for me. Although their styling choices may not all be to my taste, They made a start which will make life easier for me in the future.

I came home with two nice trees, each with a trunk thicker than my wrist, and a thinner stump which was much less interesting.

Three trees - July 2015

Hopefully in time they will all become decent bonsai but developing them will definitely be a long term project.

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