Two years ago, I saw a large Yaupon holly available in the vendor’s area at the US National Bonsai Exhibition. I’m a big fan of the species but for some reason I didn’t think about taking it home at the time.
Two months ago, I saw the tree again at this year’s National Exhibition. As luck would have it, I was able to pick it up at the Saturday afternoon auction.
Yaupon holly – 23″ tall, 33″ wide
When I’m shopping for a tree like this, I think about whether or not I can get it into shape to show it at an event like the National Exhibition. If the tree doesn’t have the potential for it, I’ll likely pass.
In this case, the tree has a nice trunk and surface roots (it’s about 11″ in diameter an inch above the surface roots), but the branches have a lot of room for improvement (many are long with little taper, movement, or branch division).
Since I’m familiar with the species, I have an idea of what it might take to prepare it for a top exhibit. I’m guessing 10-15 years is a good start down this road, but even that will depend on how it responds to the work I plan to do in the next few years.
The reason I decided to take on this project is that I’m excited about what the tree might look like those 10-15 years from now. I also know that if I don’t take the time to make those improvements, I have no expectation that it’ll improve in any meaningful way on its own.
Here’s how I look at it.
- Interesting trunk
- Interesting surface roots
- Good species for my climate
- Develops branches relatively quickly
- Good potential show tree
- The tree has been getting weaker (note the sparse foliage on the upper right side)
- Many overly large branches
- Poor branch division
- No expectation that large scars will heal
- Development will take a long time
Now for the plan.
- Repot the tree into a large pot or wood box and let it grow freely for one or two years until it regains vigor
- Remove the largest branches
- Shorten the branches with long internodes
- Train new branches by letting them run until they reach the desired thickness (see Developing Yaupon holly for details)
It’s a simple approach on paper, but I know it’ll take longer than I expect and that a lot depends on how it responds to the future branch reduction.
I’m not sure if it’s the length of the project, the projected payoff, or simply the reliance on fate for key aspects of the project that make it appealing, but I do know I’m looking forward to getting started!
GSBF Golden Zoom: Pot Selection Video Available
The Golden State Bonsai Federation hosts quarterly online presentations on their YouTube channel. Earlier this week, they recorded a presentation I gave on pot selection as the latest installment in the series. If you’re interested in learning about the conventions that guide the selection of containers for bonsai, check it out today at: Jonas Dupuich Presents Bonsai Pot Selection
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