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Full Glory-Fall Bonsai

Monday, November 16, 2009

Japanese maples, doing their thing around Halloween. It still seems such a miracle to me, that you can have a tree in a pot, and it will color up and drop its leaves just like the ones in the yard, and at the same time, too.

It seems the fall will go on and on; day after day in the upper 60's, day after day calling me outside to play. Alas, I cannot, for guests arrive tomorrow night, and I must remove the evidence that we have been using this place like a hotel for the last three weeks.

Winter chores always sneak up on me. They have less immediacy than spring chores, after all. A tomato seedling that's ready to be planted in May starts to go yellow and holler for help. You see your investment dying, and you get on it. But a spent gladiolus bulb can sit in the ground through a few light frosts. No big deal. You can always pull them another day. Likewise, bonsai trees can take light frosts; it's that 20-degree night that's going to give them problems. So I put off putting them to bed.

They're so beautiful. How can I put them in the ground before they've lost their last leaves?
King of them all, the split one. This is the one that was knocked off the porch by a coon in 1993 and split down the middle, breaking its pretty blue pot. I taped it back together with electrician's tape and it healed just fine and now is the most beautiful of them all.

With apologies to my other trees, who are also lovely:
When you have a tree in a pot, you can really see the subtle changes fall brings. This tree is in full color. But just before the leaves drop, they lose red:
and they get paler and paler as they begin to fall:

At last you can see their bones; you can see how they might need to be trimmed to give spaces "for the birds to fly through." This is my oldest tree, and the one I love best, because we've been through so much together. It has a really grand, thick trunk and the best leaf-to-tree size proportions of them all. In other words, it has itty-bitty leaves, which is what you want in bonsai, and which you can only get over a long, long time. *Unless you are willing to cut its new leaves, leaving only half of each one, every spring, which I am emphatically not. This saps the tree's energy and causes it to put out smaller leaves the next time. Blaa. I'll wait.* 26 years is a long time to care for a tree. It's got quite a twist developing to its trunk, which is exciting.

My little Korean moon maple, in training since 2006, has fabulous fall color. I'm excited about this tree. It's already got some great asymmetry going on. I think it's going to be a stunner in about 25 years. At that point Phoebe and Liam had better be ready to take them, or I'll have to find an arboretum that would like some killer trees for their bonsai collection, because I'll be too old to put them to bed in the fall and wake them in the spring. I don't like thinking that way, but I need to be realistic. Like most things I love, they take a lot of work. I never really realized that until the work started to hurt.


I had no idea there were deciduous bansai trees; I thought you could only do that with evergreens. Guess it shows how little thought I'd given bansai -- till now. My two Japanese maples kicked off the last of their leaves over the weekend. I love the color, in the trees and on the ground, where it looks as if they've dropped their voluminous skirts. Until my neighbor, who seems compelled to manage, and sometimes thwart, nature, vacuumed up the third that lay by -- not on -- the road.

Ah--time marches on.
I did some quick math to think, how old will Julie be in 25 years? Just rough estimates, mind.
But I can understand the way muscles complain and say--you want me to do WHAT?

Of course your trees will be loved for as long they live.

Wow! That is really cool!

I love that split one! I didn't know either that you could do bonsais with maples. But I guess you could maybe do it with just about any tree? Well, maybe not a big old oak.

Careing for anything in nature, including a bonsai tree, reminds me of the verse from Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Manipulating nature to bring about a mineature version of what is found naturally growing is akin to joining hands with the Creator and bringing about life in a new form. These pictures represent that in a meaningful way.You're right, Julie, the best things are free if we will but recognize them and not take them for granted.

Beautiful bonsai Julie. Your patience and attention over the years has definitely paid off. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Those are all so beautiful Julie.

Are these maple species that would grow well in your yard? Or do they need extra shelter from winter temps because their pot is so small? (I'm thinking through the light frost, but not 20 degree requirements)
My favorite, still the split in the periwinkle pot.

Your trees are just stunning. I envy anyone who has the dedication to take on such things as bonsai trees and big flower gardens. I don't know where you find the time!

Hmmm. I've slowly become a person who wants to keep plants for years and years. I'm always impressed by your seasonal plant schedule, Julie! I can't believe it's time for the pod again already. I definitely started out as the kind of gal who planted a little garden each year from new seeds or seedlings and annually killed a houseplant or two and left it at that.
Right now I've got a 4 year old geranium (I've no idea what kind) who was the lone survivor of a run in with a runaway air conditioner. I'm quite sure it needs to be pruned and/or repotted this year but it keeps on blooming. And now I've got a potted azalea (also no idea what kind) that will be two years old in the spring. This one was given to me after my Dad passed away by some friends and it was a nice part of the days afterwards to have something to tend to. I guess it reminds me of my Dad - we liked to garden together.
So, my question is...any tips for beginner gardner references on how to keep these 2 alive and well in NH?

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