Forest roots?

GerhardG

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Hi All

First project for 2011 will be a forest, I have my doubts about pulling it off artistically.

I've read a few articles on composition and checked out a few how-to's, but I was wondering - won't the roots in forest plantings tend to be inseperable eventually?

I'm using 5 x liquidambar styraciflua, I also know being in a hurry never works in bonsai....
Unfortunately these trees are from a normal nursery, I have no idea what the roots look like, so my "plan" is to have the big pot and 5 small ones (development pots) ready incase the roots are too messy to fit the lot in a big pot.

Thnx
Gerhard
 

rockm

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"I've read a few articles on composition and checked out a few how-to's, but I was wondering - won't the roots in forest plantings tend to be inseperable eventually?"

If you're lucky they will. Ideally, a forest should become like a single tree, with a single root mass and a cohesive canopy...

"I'm using 5 x liquidambar styraciflua, I also know being in a hurry never works in bonsai....
Unfortunately these trees are from a normal nursery, I have no idea what the roots look like, so my "plan" is to have the big pot and 5 small ones (development pots) ready incase the roots are too messy to fit the lot in a big pot."

This is a problem, as you will have to work the roots quite vigorously and mercilessly to get a good forest from such stock. Drastic root pruning is necessary to get the trunks close enough to make a decent forest. the idea of gradually reducing each tree using individual pots might be a good one here, but you're still going to have to reduced each pretty substantially to get them close together.
 

jk_lewis

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You are right that being in a hurry is wrong. That is especially true with Liquidambar. They have very heavy, coarse roots that are unsuited to being plopped from the nursery can onto the forst tray.

You will need to work with these individually in shallow pots for several years, concentrating on creating a finer root mass. Repot annually, cutting the fatter roots back each time. Also trim the tops into the narrow form suited for a forest. Replant and continuously pinch back the tops over the growing season. I bet it will take 3-4 years to get roots that will be suitable for the shallow tray needed for a forest bonsai.

Sweetgum wouldn't be my choice for learning to do a forest.
 

GerhardG

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Hi RockM & JKL

Thanks for that info, I was a bit surprised about the roots since I've seen people change a composition a few times, and I was expecting to do that a few times as well.

I had a Liquidambar Orientalis which was such a struggle in general I eventually gave it away for somebody to plant in their garden.
I didn't expect much better from the styraciflua, but it does seem to have a better growing habit than the orientalis - AND I could honestly find nothing better locally.

I'm also not really surprised by the info on the roots since they're growing out the bottem of the nursery bags - good thing I bought extra plastic pots, guess they have to go in there first.

Seems like I'll have to wait at least a year, my aim is low, they don't have to be very good bonsai, if I can fit 5 of them in the pot and get some nice autum colour I'll be happy.

Thanks again,
Gerhard
 

jk_lewis

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they don't have to be very good bonsai,

That's a puzzling comment. Why even do a bonsai if you'e not trying to mak the trees into "very good" or better bonsai?

I know, the standard answer is "It doesn't matter, because this is just a learning" experience. But you learn nothing if you're not trying for a good tree. Sweetgum can make very nice bonsai. They just take more work than standard (and often boring) trees like Japanese maples and chinse elms.
 

rockm

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I think he was being a bit disingenuous. I'd bet he doesn't plan to make a crummy bonsai.

Sweetgum can make great bonsai, but, as Jim says, they do take some extra effort (and the fall color is almost always spectacular).
 

GerhardG

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Hi JKL

I can understand you questioning my statement, I also don't think mediocrity has a place in bonsai. I did some research and clearly the styraciflua is better for bonsai than the orientalis I tried.

As stated I'm not exactly spoilt for choice, these trees at that price (about US$4-50 each) was a lucky find, but their trunks are only a half inch in diameter - LONG way away from the styraciflua bonsai I gooooogled.....
What I meant was if I can build a nice canopy on top of these 5 sticks in a pot and get some nice autum colour I'd be happy for now.

If I can borrow your time machine sometime next week I'll set my aim much higher:D

Thanks again,
Gerhard
 

Smoke

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Hi JKL

I can understand you questioning my statement, I also don't think mediocrity has a place in bonsai. I did some research and clearly the styraciflua is better for bonsai than the orientalis I tried.

As stated I'm not exactly spoilt for choice, these trees at that price (about US$4-50 each) was a lucky find, but their trunks are only a half inch in diameter - LONG way away from the styraciflua bonsai I gooooogled.....
What I meant was if I can build a nice canopy on top of these 5 sticks in a pot and get some nice autum colour I'd be happy for now.

If I can borrow your time machine sometime next week I'll set my aim much higher:D

Thanks again,
Gerhard


I admire your enthusiasim. Keep it up:D
 

GerhardG

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Funny you should mention enthusiasm, I went through a rough spot when I had to move and again give away all but 7 trees, I looked at that pathetic collection and seriously considered washing my hands of this "hobby" (read: obsession) and selling the lot.....

Glad to report the fire is back!:cool:

This very morning with coffee and a smoke in hand I was looking at the lot and realized even chopped to hell (at the nursery, before loading) and standing in black plastic nursery bags, the 5 gumtrees and the single camphor already made things look better.

We are supposed to have many trees!:D
 

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