Bare rock awaiting a tree

Alex DeRuiter

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So I got a message out of the blue (well, somewhat out of the blue) from Smoke (Al) in regards to a thread I posted about a ROR Trident maple.

Long story short, Al was extremely generous and offered to send me a rock of my choice from his collection. First and foremost, I would like to thank Al once again for his kindness. This is the first rock I will ever use for a root-over-rock project. I have high expectations of myself and plan to create a beautiful composition with this rock. I'd also like to mention that from my experience generosity like this does not come often, and those who do share should realize how much of an impact they can have. Al, if you end up reading this (I hope it's not embarassing and I hope I don't sound creepy...lol), I sincerely appreciate your gift. All this over a rock, huh? ;-p

Currently I'm trying to match a tree to it, but first it's important (this is me speculating) to find the best side of the rock. This, of course, may change based on the tree I use...but it will give me an idea. I have a couple Trident maples that I would like to plant on rocks, but they're getting a little thick and I'm not sure I this is a feasible idea any longer. However, I'll know more when nature allows me to take a good look at the root systems of these two trees. I also have a couple Japanese and Chinese quinces, and one particular ficus Burtt-davyi that I think might make for a neat informal upright on a rock.....






One question I have (or at least one I can think of right now) is about muck. Someone at a local shop suggested an even mix of akadama powder, coco (similar to sphagnum moss, from what I was told), regular soil (in this case some Alaskan something-or-other soil gifted to me by the person who gave me the concoction), and some clay from my garden. Does this sound about right?

Wish me luck! :D
 

rockm

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Nice rock!

If you plan on using an "outside tree" that gets frost, ditch the coco fiber. It will turn to mush with the first freeze.
 

Smoke

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The Alaskan is "fish emulsion". Not totaly necessary for making muck, though it is very sticky. The akadama will do and it does not have to be dust, sand size will be good too. Do not add any additional soil or "dirt". That is what the akadama is for. Just use akadama and spahgnum moss 50/50 and add enough water to make a clay like substance. Knead throughly to make in homoginous.

If you have no access to akadama then a clay like soil may work. I live on a huge clay bed in the central valley. I can literally go in my back yard and dig enough clay right out of back yard to make high fire pots or keto muck by the wheelbarrow. This is the same soil component that Glenn usues when he makes the cali dama though that stuff is like concrete due to millions of years of compaction.

If you have access to a clay place, the kind that is brown with grog in it and most of the ceramic potters use to make bonsai pots, can be used also. It will just take more kneading to get the moss eveny distributed.

Good luck and you are most welcome with the stone. I am glad someone will get some really great use from it.

Al
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Nice rock!

If you plan on using an "outside tree" that gets frost, ditch the coco fiber. It will turn to mush with the first freeze.
Thanks :D This one caught my eye immediately, so I jumped on it. What I admire most is the variety of perspectives you can create with this rock. It's like no matter how I turn it I can imagine a nice tree.

Yes, I was definitely considering a maple for it...(sorry, thinking out loud here) I'm almost wondering if I should buy a couple Kiyo Hime seedlings from Brent...the leaves on those trees are beautiful and would look nice in contrast to the rock...) but possibly that ficus...but another thing to consider is the fact that I can't grow that ficus in the ground up in Michigan (hell, even the Kiyo Hime will need a lot of winter protection, but the end result I have in my mind would be worth it), so I think sticking with deciduous material would probably be the best option as it would grow the fastest.

Anyway, this means then that I will indeed ditch the coco fiber and save it for a tropical. Thank you for that advice, by the way.
The Alaskan is "fish emulsion". Not totaly necessary for making muck, though it is very sticky. The akadama will do and it does not have to be dust, sand size will be good too. Do not add any additional soil or "dirt". That is what the akadama is for. Just use akadama and spahgnum moss 50/50 and add enough water to make a clay like substance. Knead throughly to make in homoginous.

If you have no access to akadama then a clay like soil may work. I live on a huge clay bed in the central valley. I can literally go in my back yard and dig enough clay right out of back yard to make high fire pots or keto muck by the wheelbarrow. This is the same soil component that Glenn usues when he makes the cali dama though that stuff is like concrete due to millions of years of compaction.

If you have access to a clay place, the kind that is brown with grog in it and most of the ceramic potters use to make bonsai pots, can be used also. It will just take more kneading to get the moss eveny distributed.

Good luck and you are most welcome with the stone. I am glad someone will get some really great use from it.

Al
Sounds like a plan to me -- and a much easier one at that. Thank you for the clarification. ;)

Yes, he was saying that the Alaskan stuff was really sticky and that it was full of beneficial minerals and stuff...but he didn't say "fish emulsion" exactly. He said something about how it was collected from ancient forests (it didn't seem like he was trying to over exaggerate about the origins or anything) in Alaska, but then again he could have mentioned something about fish emulsion in his explanation that my selective hearing didn't pick up on. lol

Jeeze...I can only wish to have a set of circumstances like that when I finally buy some property. I've been wanting to get into pottery as well, but this isn't something I'll be able to do by myself for quite some time...but there's always time!

Anyway, yes, luckily I do have access to akadama and picked it up from the same guy who donated that Alaskan stuff to me. I have a source of clay as well, but I don't think it'll be necessary...yet.

So I realized today that I didn't make any virts for ideas of root placement or the flow from rock to tree...so I'm working on a couple and I'll post them later. ;)
 

Smoke

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I think you may need some clarification on a few things you are trying to do.


There are really two examples of trees on rocks.
There is root over rock,
and a tree planted on a rock.

Each uses a different set of methods for attachment and soil there in.

Muck is used when a tree is attached to a rock, and then the entire composition is placed in a suiban, or tray without soil. the muck is there to give the roots something to grow in and to hold water. The heavy clay/dough composition of the muck with the spaghnum moss keeps the muck from being "watered" off the rock. The muck after incapsulating the roots are covered with live green moss and pinned down usuing small clips made from wire. Small lead sinkeres can be used to affix tie wires to the stone to keep the tree firmly tied to the stone.

A root over rock tree is made by firmly tying the elongated roots usually made by growing out a suitable plant in a milk container or other suitable long pot. This assembly is then planted into an oversize growing container and all the roots and rock are covered over with regular bonsai mix. The tree is pruned and shaped while the roots continue to grow. After around two years (or more) the soil is eased away from the roots a little each year. May a 1/2 inch or so. After a few years the stone will be exposed and the roots as they have become exposed will have grown bark and start to show some patina of age. maybe at the end of three years or more the entire stone will be exposed and the roots will have mingled and start to "flow" over the stone.

In the end a "root over rock" composition does not require muck at all. Just a suitable plant, some raffia or cotton twine that will rott and a pot and soil.

There you go...now do it!
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Well I certainly feel a bit foolish now. lol

I see what you're saying and I will indeed do it. ;) The only excuse I can give as to why I thought muck was used for regular root-over-rock was because I'd seen someone else do it that way. Live and learn, I suppose.

Thanks for the explanation of both types. I'm not sure the tree-on-rock is much "my thing," but it sounds like an interesting process and maybe I'll develop a taste for it. That's not to say I don't admire these compositions, but I'm obviously not yet knowledgeable enough to pull one off.

I'll follow up with virts in a week or so -- work has been dreadful lately, so I may not have time to finish them soon.
 
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