If you were to ask me to make a list of species that I would be willing to try growing from scratch, Thuja occidentalis would be way down at the bottom. While they have a lot of good characteristics, the foliage can be a pain. For that reason we usually only deal with collected Thuja around here.
I follow quite a few Spanish blog because, well… Spaniards are damn good at bonsai! I was amazed when I stumbled across Carthago’s blog to see he is growing some lovely little Thuja’s from seed with impressive results. While I’m not about to run outside and plant a bunch of Thuja seeds, Carthago’s trees definitely made me smile!
All of the pictures below are from http://carthago2009.blogspot.ca/
A friend of mine is selling his larger bonsai, many of which are native collected trees that have been in training for decades.
Please note that these are not my trees, and I am unable to answer questions about pricing/size/ etc. For more information, drop me an email and I will put you in contact with the owner.
This tree is starting to show good balanced growth. Compared to the spring image the second flush is more compact, with more buds. It will be wired when the new growth hardens off.
I always preach about growing species that are suited to your climate because it makes bonsai so much simpler and less stressful. For this reason I have never had a satsuki because they require quite a bit of winter protection around here i.e. garage or coldframe. Nevertheless, the opportunity recently came up to buy a Satsuki Azalea ‘Kaho’ for a great price, and I really couldn’t turn it down.
This tree has been neglected for quite a few years. It is completely overgrown, with no interior growth and lots of interior dieback (although fortunately none of the branches are dead). However, it has a great nebari and good branch placement. These characteristics make it worth spending a few years rehabilitating this tree. Azaleas are perfect for this type of project because they backbud profusely and grow quickly (or so I hear).
This year there is one goal for this tree: get backbuds.
As soon as I got the tree I spent some time removing the old flowers just to examine it in detail. Then, I thinned it out heavily, leaving just one bud at each branch tip. The apex was thinned less heavily because I have been told that azaleas are generally weaker in the apex – a very unusual characteristic but perhaps not surprising since this is a shrub in nature. All dead interior growth was removed.
Ideally the branches would have been cut back to stumps (secondary branching), but this is probably not the best time of year and I am skeptical about the vigour of this particular tree so I felt it not worth the risk. Next year it will be barerooted, planted in kanuma, and cut back much harder.
The tree is now getting blasted with full sun and fertilizer. This work was done under two weeks ago, and I’ve just noticed that new buds have started popping in the interior of the tree much closer to the trunk.
When I saw this tree at the TBS show and sale I was amazed (and somewhat frustrated) that it hadn’t been bought yet. What does it say about the state of bonsai in the GTA when people aren’t fighting over a tree like this, especially when the owner was practically giving it away? I walked away, came back an hour or so later, and the tree was still there. So I had to step up and buy the damned thing 🙂
This tree is awesome material for many reasons. It is collected so it has character. The movement and branch placement is practically textbook perfect for an informal upright. It is planted in the correct position in a good pot and, perhaps most importantly, the previous owner knew exactly how to maintain Thuja foliage, so it had an abundance of fine twigs which could be used to build foliage pads.
In short, all the hard work was already done by the previous owner over the last 7+ years. I just had to put some wire on it and make it look pretty!
The work involved thinning the foliage and simplifying the branching, wiring everything, focusing the movement of the tree to the right, and shortening the apex. The deadwood was also cleaned and bleached.