Honeysuckle Progression

grouper52

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Scrounging around the back corners of a dilapidated bonsai nursery three years ago I came upon a 6' radius semi-sphere bush. The owner was walking with me, said it was a honeysuckle, unknown type, and that she had put it as a cutting in a one gallon nursery pot ten years ago. It had proceeded to grow through the pot, and through the underlying landscaping cloth, into the ground, and had formed this almost impenitrable mound. With some effort, I found the three inch trunk and the remnants of the burst pot along one edge. It looked like a possibility - I asked how much - the owner said she'd simply appreciate it if I would dig it out of there. I asked for a shovel, and a few minutes later it was in a large nursery pot.

The progression takes it from it's initial trimming in winter of '07 to reconnoiter the lay of the land, then initial carving and styling in spring '08, then the '09 picture shows the result of some clip and grow and guy wiring.

All the cut branches, BTW, were stuck unceremoniously into dirt in a sawwed off wine barrel, where they promptly rooted and have been thriving. This is one robust and hardy tree. Also, it is evergreen, such that, even though it is going through a slight "fall" right now, new buds are simultaneously coming out as well.

The final photo shows it today in an old Erin pot I had around, a little off from the best front (shown here), with some further clip-and-grow work and guy wiring, as well as some areas of wrapped-wire "baby bending" to send it towards its final stages of development.

Some refinement of the deadwood features will be on the agenda over the winter, or at latest next season. A few more years and I think it will be a fairly pleasing representation of an old deciduous survivor.

Enjoy.

16" from the top of the pot.
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Nice! Great selection of a trunk-line out of all that. Love that shaggy shredded bark...

Does it flower for you yet?
 

misfit11

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Great work as usual, Grouper. It'll be nice to see the foliage pads develop some more. Keep us updated.
 

grouper52

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Thanks for the comments, guys.

This one has never flowered yet. In a smaller pot, and with less emphasis on vegtative growth, perhaps it will start now.

I try not to do traditional foliage "pads" for the most part, more foliage "areas", but I know what you mean. Besides the re-carving to refine the deadwood areas, working on the foliage to get a more convincing look will be the main body of work for the next few years. Fortunately, this guy puts out tons of foliage, and it has very small leaves, although I wish it was alternating leaves, which always look more attractive to me. Still, with such small leaves, to image is easily convincing.
 

cquinn

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That's very nice! The pot is also very pleasing with the tree. I know this isn't very informative feedback, but I liked this so much I had to comment. How long did it take to get the root ball that thin?
 

sfhellwig

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As stated, beautiful selection from "all that." It is your ability to see the tree within that makes your pieces so interesting to look at. Deeper than technique it shows through as your style.

And what a score. I am impressed at how my japanese honeysuckle has added to it's trunk considering the vining type don't do that so well. It is and will be enjoyed as a flowering vine but I have always been interested in these bush type honeysuckles. Can't find them sold around here. If only I could find a specimen to grab a cutting from. So what are you going to do with all of those unceremoniously acquired plants?:rolleyes:
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks for the comments, guys.

This one has never flowered yet. In a smaller pot, and with less emphasis on vegtative growth, perhaps it will start now.

...Still, with such small leaves, to image is easily convincing.
Flowers on honeysuckle, you probably know, don't appear until the first growth of the spring has 5-6 nodes...so we usually cut them back before it gets a chance to flower in the spring! I think if you let it grow wild for several weeks in the spring, you may see some flower buds develop at the leaf axils, and as they mature, you can prune it back for shape and still enjoy some of the flowers.

And the leaves do look particularly small for a honeysuckle, which is very nice! So many honeysuckle get bigger and bigger leaves as the season wears on, then age terribly throughout the summer. These seem to be in good condition.
 

rockm

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Very nice honeysuckle with a lot of potential that you're ably developing. I would suggest a deeper pot, though. That imposing trunk needs a firmer visual support. Even though the pot it is currently in is very nicem, it's too shallow, IMO.
 

grouper52

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Thanks for the input, guys.

The pot was the best choice among the stuff I had lying around - pleasing in its own way, but probably not a long term home.

I do wonder that I've never seen it flower. It may simply have very small flowers like some HS I've seen, and since this guy has just hung around at the periphery of things for the past few years I may simply have overlooked them. I've never noticed them on the big chunks I threw into soil in the cask, which have just been entirely ignored, never pruned yet.

Speaking of which, sfhellwig, this seems to be one of those "semper viridans" type trees that will start from an old twig, stuck in the ground, so I could take a little cutting and wrap it in a zip lock bag and send it you to. Stick it in a pot in the window for the winter, then in the ground over a tile in the spring, and you may have you some great starter material in a dozen years or so. Let me know your particulars if you want me to send you some - easier as a soil-free cutting than an already rooted thing.

Thanks again for all the nice comments. This is the part of the hobby that has always appealed most to me - finding some unlikely old piece of material and doing something creative with it. They don't all turn out so nice, but this one has been a lot of fun.
 

Dwight

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I've been thinking , if I ever get up there again forget Bonsai NW and Eledan Gardens , lets go dumster diving in old run down nurseries. How the hell do you find this stuff ????
 

grouper52

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I've been thinking , if I ever get up there again forget Bonsai NW and Eledan Gardens , lets go dumster diving in old run down nurseries. How the hell do you find this stuff ????
LOL! It'd be great to go on a hunt like that together, Dwight!

The climate in the Pacific NW is conducive for exuberant growth in many kinds of plants, and it's a semi back to the earth sort of locale for children of the sixties. So many small nurseries have sprung up here over the years. When they are in their early phases, many go the anti-commercial route: odd species, not trimmed for the usual yard tree configuration, etc. Over time, one of two things often happens: they get wise, commercially, and conform to market conditions with the usual nursery material, but throw their earlier stuff off in some corner to fend for itself; or they never really make it, and things just devolve into an entire dilapidated nursery of such stuff. There are dozens like this within easy driving distance - I've picked them over pretty well, but still find the occasional promising ugly duckling with an interesting, thick trunk.

I haven't really gone looking for a couple years now, so who knows - there may be a whole new crop of such finds out there!

Will
 

Bob O

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Grouper,

Very nice find! You have developed a great trunk line. I hope you keep us updated on it's progress.

From what I can see of the leaf it looks like a "Box Honeysuckle" or Lonicera nitida. I have one of these from a cutting five years ago. Once you get the shape of your foliage right you really have to keep after them in the growing season. Shoots can go an inch in a day or two.

Again very nice!:)

Bob O
 

grouper52

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Grouper,

Very nice find! You have developed a great trunk line. I hope you keep us updated on it's progress.

From what I can see of the leaf it looks like a "Box Honeysuckle" or Lonicera nitida. I have one of these from a cutting five years ago. Once you get the shape of your foliage right you really have to keep after them in the growing season. Shoots can go an inch in a day or two.

Again very nice!:)

Bob O
Thanks, Bob O. If I recall correctly, that's the species people suggested in the past as well.

Certainly you are right about the robust growth! I've always admired the clip-and-grow method of training from the Lingnan School in semi-tropical southern China, where the climate regularly induces such growth, but almost none of the species here will do it well. This one, however, lends itself very well to such techniques. One whip this past season was almost 1/4" diameter! I am thinking I will make use of the clip-and-grow over the next few years to further define and refine the finer branching - the effect on an aged-looking tree like this should be most rewarding. We'll see.

Will
 

grouper52

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Update on this guy. I'm letting some of those long whips just grow down this season - plan to wire +/or trim back next season.
 

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