From Nevada, Molon Labe

grouper52

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Here’s a post that might be of interest to both bonsai enthusiasts and to Right Wing gun nuts - didn’t know whether to post this in the Karaoke Bar or on a more general forum. :D

The story's setting is the Right Wing extremist part: My wife and I, both lifetime members, decided to drive down to the Las Vegas area to attend again the Four Day Defensive Handgun Course offered at Front Sight, out in the Nevada desert. We attended with our neighbors and one of their sons, who flew down and met us there.

OK - on to bonsai, for those not already turned off by that sort of extremist talk. We drove down on a meandering route that took us far from the usual Interstates and main roads. I’m a desert rat by nature, and I get really affected about early January by the gloom and wet here in the Northwest winters, so every year I take a week or so off at this time of year and go somewhere in the desert. This was my yearly drying out vacation, so a leisurely drive through the beauty of the winter desert was a great source of recuperation and restoration for me. It was also a chance to scope out, just for fun, available collecting sites, though I expected to find none down in Nevada.

Parts of the rural areas we drove through on the smaller roads, however, were chock full of Rocky Mountain junipers of great age and beauty. None, however, were in sites where the conditions would allow successful collecting. I had collected RMJs and Ponderosa pines from such areas on three occasions before with Dan Robinson, and had been taught well the signs to look for to insure good trees with decent chances of survival. In those sorts of dry areas, typically, the roots would run many yards deep into the soil, and there would be no small feeder roots close to the surface to sustain the tree after collecting it by severing the main, deep roots. However, in the winter, there might be such small feeders roots in close to the trunk if the junipers were growing in pockets in the right sort of rocks, where the soil in the pocket would allow the tree to form a little root pad to collect the precious winter moisture. Against our expectations, we did see one such area on our off-the-beaten-path drive south to Las Vegas.

So on the morning we left Las Vegas we stopped at a Home Depot and picked up the few simple collecting tools we might need. By the afternoon we were back in that location, and got out of our truck to reconnoiter the area to see if there were any good trees there situated in conditions that would give a decent chance of survival. There were at least a few that showed promise, so we went and got permission to collect, and came back. By now it was clear that we would have only an hour and a half of sunlight left, so we set out from a nearer area, through some snow, and then up a muddy scree slope to some limestone rocks that looked promising.

In that particular location, within easy walking/climbing distance from the road, the pickings actually turned out to be smaller than we had thought, but we did find this beauty sitting in a small pocket in a cleft in a small exposed limestone cliff. There was a small set of roots in the soil in the pocket - enough, I thought, to give the tree a decent chance of survival. Following the techniques Dan perfected over a lifetime of collecting, I set about collecting this beauty, while my wife went elsewhere to look further. The tree collected fairly easily.

It’s a big tree, standing exactly four feet above the soil line. The pictures show some of the gorgeous nebari and deadwood features. It will sit as it is for at least several years recovering and growing new roots in its little “papoose wrap” before I do anything more with it. Shorter term, it may show signs of death in the next few months, but I won’t really know whether or not it survived the transplant until June. We’ll see. They're hard to predict.
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Great find (and story!). I'm sure it's easier to get permission to dig when you're on your way to or from a 4-day Defensive Handgun Course! :p
 

milehigh_7

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Will,

I forgot you were coming down! Congrats on removing the only wild tree in Southern Nevada... Just kidding! :p I called both the Forrest Service and BLM and they don't allow any collecting in the Southern part of the state but assured me that if I would like to go up by Ely I could get as many as I want.


Anyway, that is a nice one and I hope you enjoyed the perfect weather we had down here.
 

grouper52

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Will,

I forgot you were coming down! Congrats on removing the only wild tree in Southern Nevada... Just kidding! :p I called both the Forrest Service and BLM and they don't allow any collecting in the Southern part of the state but assured me that if I would like to go up by Ely I could get as many as I want.


Anyway, that is a nice one and I hope you enjoyed the perfect weather we had down here.

Hey Clyde,

Dan is planning to host his friend Pete Wilson from Vancouver Island to some collecting somewhere in the Rockies this spring, and was intrigued by my tree and my description of things. If you can wait until then maybe we can meet, and you can join us. I don't know how much you know about collecting already, but Dan "wrote the book" about it, and you'll learn a ton from him. It's easy to kill lots of priceless trees, especially junipers, if you haven't learned how to go about it, but he'll be glad to show you. Maybe we'll meet then.

Will
 

milehigh_7

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:eek: WOW I am honored! I will say if there is any possible way, I would love to meet you all.

I don't know much about collecting and that is why I don't yet do it. An opportunity like that would be a dream come true for sure! When you get an idea about your plans please do let me know.
 

grouper52

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:eek: WOW I am honored! I will say if there is any possible way, I would love to meet you all.

I don't know much about collecting and that is why I don't yet do it. An opportunity like that would be a dream come true for sure! When you get an idea about your plans please do let me know.

Will do, Clyde.
 

Vance Wood

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I'm all for gun control: You should be able to hit what you shoot at without spraying lead everywhere.
 

grouper52

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So will are you telling us you are ready to defend your new tree?:D

I'm designing a hostage target with a bonsai thief behind this very tree, head poking out from behind as he holds a spray bottle of Roundup to its foliage. :eek: Should be a "Hit" here on BNut. :D

Any suggestions for the thief?
 

tom tynan

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Will....Why not move it into the pumice/lava mix right away - I understand the papoose concept with the chicken wire for transport- but the aeration of the roots is important as well - let me know your thoughts...Tom
 

grouper52

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Will....Why not move it into the pumice/lava mix right away - I understand the papoose concept with the chicken wire for transport- but the aeration of the roots is important as well - let me know your thoughts...Tom

Hi Tom,

This is Dan's teaching, developed from years of experience. He will modify it depending on the type of tree and the time of year collected, and the amount of viable root ball that he is able to extract.

With this one, the root ball was such that I did slip another black plastic bag under it, cut the tape holding the original one on it, loosened it a bit, and put a bit more soil around it, my usual mix of pumice, lava rock, turface and "Boon's mix". I then re-taped it together again, and punched a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Dan no longer uses the chicken wire - just heavy duty landscaping bags and electrical tape. When I've been with Larry Jackel I notice he uses burlap bags, another traditional method.

But an actual transplant into a training pot or grow box or whatever may cause further disruption of the fragile feeder roots, and set the recovery back or even kill it. Dan learned the hard way (it's in the book) to be real patient - sometimes even waiting many years - before messing with the original root ball in any way. The papoose wrap prevents that, and keeps a steady humidity - but with good oxygenation - around the feeder roots as they develop.

For at least a few years (with junipers and many other desert trees collected with tenuous root balls like this), the tree will expend all its energy making new roots. When it has enough roots to support new foliar growth, it will then start pushing new whips - that's how you know it can be transplanted into a grow box with a good chance of success.

Others may do it differently, but that's how I learned it from Dan. :)
 

Bill S

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I'm designing a hostage target with a bonsai thief behind this very tree, head poking out from behind as he holds a spray bottle of Roundup to its foliage. :eek: Should be a "Hit" here on BNut. :D

Any suggestions for the thief?

Sounds like fun, I could suggest a couple, but even though it's the bar I'm feeling kind of mello today so I won't.:cool:

By the way keep it up and we won't need to buy the book.:D
 

Dwight

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Don't have an opinion about the gun ( my son-inlaw is a cop so I just call him ) but the tree looks good. What if you used burlap instead of the plastic then put the whole bundle in a grow box and just let the burlap rot ? You could substitute some natural fiber twine for the tape and that would rot as well. By the time all this rotting took place the tree would be on its own. Just a thought.

BTW , do you use a green house or is Seattle wet enough without one ?
 

Attila Soos

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What if you used burlap instead of the plastic then put the whole bundle in a grow box and just let the burlap rot ? You could substitute some natural fiber twine for the tape and that would rot as well. By the time all this rotting took place the tree would be on its own. Just a thought.

That sounds like an excellent idea. Burlap bag, later placed in a box full of 100% pumice or lava rock.

The good thing about Seattle is that the air is never too dry, so there is not a high chance of the papoose wrap drying out.
But here is California, the papoose wrap would never work, it would dry out in a few hours. But the burlap bag placed in a box would achieve the same thing, and protect the tree from drying out.
 

milehigh_7

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That sounds like an excellent idea. Burlap bag, later placed in a box full of 100% pumice or lava rock.

The good thing about Seattle is that the air is never too dry, so there is not a high chance of the papoose wrap drying out.
But here is California, the papoose wrap would never work, it would dry out in a few hours. But the burlap bag placed in a box would achieve the same thing, and protect the tree from drying out.

I was wondering this exact thing Attila, as you know our air is often single digit humidity. This is a wonderful discussion!
 

grouper52

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Don't know about the burlap bag into a growbox of soil, but seems like it ought to work. Larry Jackel or others in the Denver area club may know more, especially since their climate is more akin to desert areas than ours is.

Hey Dwight - This area IS a greenhouse - just not a tropical one! All humidity all the time, and very few temperature extremes ever.
 
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How did you like Front Site? Are the instructors any good?

Nice tree, hope it lives! One thing I do not understand however is with all that major trama from digging it out it seems like putting it into a box and tying it in would be barely noticeable to the tree. I am far from being experienced in collecting wild junipers but it seems important to put it into a device which can hold more soil.
 

rockm

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More soil isn't the best thing for recently collected trees. The soil used in containers for them should be juuuust big enough to encompass their root masses.

That's because surrounding soil that contains no roots will retain more moisture that sits there wet. That can cause root rot. The more soil, the more moisture...
 

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