Introduction: New to Bonsai, Old to growing, Needs advice on collecting.

JTrips

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Not really old, -in the twilight of my youth
- has a better ring to it.

I'm enjoying this site and would like to thank all those offering their knowledge and photos from years of bonsai work. I'm about 30 pages deep into the Mugo Pine train thread and loving it.

Only 140 more to go.

I'm just now looking forward to tending trees after, years of gardening vegetables, perennials, herbs, etc.
Until 2 years ago my wife and I lived in a house we built 30 years ago carved into a heavily wooded subdivision lot -minimal disturbance of the trees. So, I never really had a place to plant new ones since we were literally surrounded by them.

Our new place is mostly open fields, so I need trees.

In a couple of weeks we'll be moving into a new house, and I'll once again have a place to grow something more permanent.

So, I need some collecting advice.
I have a couple acres of woods that I'll be selling in a year or so, and would like to do some collecting, or at least prep for that.
I haven't walked it in a couple of years but here are a few that I remember.

Tulip popular
Scarlett Oak
White or Red Oak (maybe)
Shagbark Hickory
Wild cherry
Black or Yellow Locust
Beech
Sassafrass
Persimmon
Redbud
Privet
Sugar Maple
Eastern Red Cedar
Staghorn Sumac
Dogwood

Probably several others that I'd need a book to ID.
I realize most of these are not necessarily good or easy bonsai material, but it gives you an idea of the woods and what I may have to work with.
It's a fairly steep southern exposure

This property is near the VA-TN-NC border whereas my current and future residence is near the VA-MD-WV border. So, it's a bit of a hike, but I have a pickup truck.
I'll be going back and forth over the next month or so to move things from storage.

My thoughts are to maybe move a few saplings before the sap gets up and to scout, mark, maybe top, root work, prune, air-layering -whatever you recommend, some slightly larger trees to be moved later.

I also have a bunch of moist seeds in the fridge waiting somewhat more patiently than I.

Advice welcomed

Also I'll be looking to set up my nursery once we get the deed to the new place straight in a couple of weeks, and will welcome your collective wisdom.

Thanks,
JJJ
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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On your list, persimmon caught my eye. The native American persimmon needs to be used more for bonsai, it has great potential.

Also good are the oaks. Beech are good, but SLOW. If you have beech, likely you have hornbeam too. Carpinus, aka hornbeam, are excellent for bonsai. Elms are great, likely you have Ulmus rubra, and or U. americana, and maybe the invasive Siberian elm, U pumila. All are good for bonsai.
Privet - good
Dogwood - good
Acer rubrum - red maple good. Sugar maple leaves don't reduce enough.

Hickory - leaves too big, same for tulip poplar.

Locust, maybe yes, maybe no. Not used often.

ERC will be a frustration, save yourself, say no.

Prunus, the wild cherries don't work well, but not totally impossible, better would be wild plum, P americana, if you have cherries, chances are, you have wild plum too.

Hope that helps.
 

BrianBay9

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Welcome. First, it helps if you put your general location in your profile. You'll get better advice.

On your list, the oaks, cherry, beech, and privet are commonly used as bonsai. The privet is probably the easiest to collect for a beginner - virtually 100% chance of survival. You might also keep an eye out for elm, hornbeam, hophornbeam. Others here from your neck of the woods might suggest more species.

If you're collecting to plant in your landscape, anything that survives is good. If you're collecting specifically for bonsai, you're most interested in the base of the tree and maybe the first 12 inches. Look for something that has a wide base, a decent root spread, and some taper from that to the low trunk. Look for something that has some movement in the first 12 inches of that trunk. Ideally the tree would have some low branches in that area too, but for deciduous species you don't need to worry about that too much. You can probably grow what you need if they survive.

Best scouting areas are at the forest edges, along streams, power line easements, etc. You'll get more species variety at the edges of the woods, and it's easier to remove them without all the complications of other trees and roots. Best areas are often on rocky ridges where the trees can't sink their roots deep. The edges also often have more trees with movement, pushing out into the sun, or having been cut back repeatedly by the power company or road crews.

You don't say the elevation of the property, but I'd guess now is pretty much the time to start collecting - as soon as the ground is thawed enough to get a shovel in it. Or scout out your trees this year and collect next spring. For most deciduous trees collecting is a process of cutting roots around the trunk, 8 - 10 inches or so from the trunk, then working under the tree to get access to the tap root and cutting it. Most collected deciduous trees can survive with very few feeder roots.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
 

Forsoothe!

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There should be some native Azalea that would be blooming soon and every month following?
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Go for the sassafras! I need more info on raising mine ;-)
Almost eight years in and they're still just a couple of inches.
 

JTrips

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Thanks, all.

My elevation is around 1500'+ but my new location will only be about 500'+

I'll look into those elms. I think I can find something there.

The native azelea rarely populate below 3500' in that area, but I've seen some monsters in the Grayson Highlands area in my day. I'd like to find some collectible area up there. The hawthornes are awesome, as is of course the Frazier Fir. That area is 4200-5600' elv.

The persimmon there is a sad, stupid story for me.
I was clearing a thicket of privet, multiflora rose, and sassafras 6 years ago. It was just a mess and a little close to my garden. I had a mind to put bees in the spot. I wasn't observant enough and mixed among some sassafras I felled a 30' persimmon. I could have cried. Hopefully I can find a seedling ( or root sucker?)

I figured the shagbark would be a bonsai-no but, but can you imagine those trunks potted.

The red cedar is what I thought/hoped would be workable. So plentiful.

I might get lucky on the hornbeam, or ironwood.
At my old house I had one in the front yard under oak canopy. It went from about 1" caliper 6' tall to 1.5" x 8' tall in 30 years.

Beech is what I'd most thought about and looked forward to.

I'll probably get some privet to work on. Maybe we could learn to get along.

If I'm on the collecting site long enough, I'll try to post some field shots for advice when I get there sometime this month.

Thanks again
JJJ
 

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