Luka is a fellow bonsai enthusiast and friend of mine who often obtains material for bonsai from around his home city, Zagreb, in Crotia. Here is the story of Luka collecting two large juniper urban-yamadori from the city landscape.
Almost each day while walking or driving through the city streets, I see great bonsai material. Every now and then there is construction going on in the city and these are the chances i'm waiting and looking for so I can collect bonsai material.
This is the story of one of those opportunities that happened this August. While walking around the city, I stumbled upon a big trench in the downtown area of Zagreb.
It was the building of a new water pipeline. The digger had made a big trench, while doing so had been driving over a large island of Juniper. Unfortunately I hadn't discovered these Junipers before the work had started, otherwise I would have saved a lot of trees being run over by the digger, and got myself much better bonsai material. But then again, one must not get too greedy!!!
i talked to the constructors and the people from the major
city horticultural firm that maintains the city streets,
and obtained the permission to collect a couple of the
Because most of the trees on the right side of the trench had too long branches, with foliage metres away from the trunk, i decided to go for the trees on the left hand side of the trench.
The first tree I collected I nicknamed 'Biggy'! With the trunk base standing close to the left edge of the trench, still with a nice green crown, it was a great candidate for bonsai, and it was the first one I wanted out of the ground!
After cleaning the area around the tree, it seemed that actually the tree was a large branch that had rooted (or ground-layered), where it touched the ground. I was sure that there were enough roots to collect it successfully, so it was cut from the (thinner) main tree and collected.
That digger was a big help. All was done in a few seconds! Without it I'd have been digging it out for a couple of hours. Thanks guys!
The first tree successfully dug out of the ground!
The second tree I collected was already a little damaged by the digger. While approaching and digging the trench the digger had run over it a couple of times. So this was the real rescuing...
Collected in 12.5 seconds, it was placed on the ground just a couple of metres from my car!
Nino, a good friend of mine, came and helped me put the trees in the car.
When doing this stuff, I just have to have fun.........
Coming back home, the first thing we did was build a large wooden box to plant the biggy in. After cleaning the rootball of excess groundsoil, the tree was planted in pure cat litter, watered in well, the foliage misted, and then it was placed in the shade.
It's good to have a good strong friend, like I have with Nino, to help you manipulate a tree this big...this picture shows his foot next to the large root ball.
'Biggy' finally planted up!
The second Juniper was planted the next day, and as it was much smaller I could do all the work myself.
As with the biggy, it was planted in cat litter, watered, misted and shaded. It has a single branch which carries all of the foliage which means its survival is much riskier than with the biggy. If this single branch does not survive, the whole tree will die.
So it will have some special care. But, when it recovers, it will be a great bonsai, having a lot of nice deadwood details, a trunk nice movement and a balanced crown.
The second tree planted up into a large container.
The trees weren't given any special treatment, no 'miracle' stuff like SuperThrive or foliar feed. They are watered when necessary and misted frequently, 5-10 times a day, because frequent misting reduces transpiration at a time when the roots may struggle to draw enough moisture up into the foliage themselves. I have also kept them in the shade over the hottest part of the day, again to reduce the loss of water through the leaves (transpiration).
The ''majestic two'' will be placed at the side of the garden in the shade, where they will wait for their first styling which, if everything goes well, is planned for the spring of 2011.
All in all, the city is a great bonsai-material store! It's just there are rare chances for collecting...and those chances need to be taken...
So, keep your eyes and ears opened for the digger, the shovel, pike and chain saw sounds, be ready for some tree rescuing, and of course, getting yourself some great bonsai material!