New to collecting - just looking for tips

karen82

Yamadori
Messages
79
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71
Location
Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5
#1
I'm moving this summer to a new house located on several acres of woods adjacent to a state natural area (not sure whether or not I would be able to get permission to collect there).
I haven't seen the property without snow on the ground yet and I'm not sure what trees there are, but I'm sure there will be something good to collect. The whole region I'm moving to (Door County) is known for shallow, sandy soil over bedrock, and seems perfect for collecting bonsai. The area is known for white cedars, balsam fir, white pine, white spruce, hemlock, tamarack, red maple, ect.

For trees on my own property, I'm thinking I would search for promising trees during the summer, and mark them... maybe dig a hole next to the trunk and fill it with soil if the tree doesn't have any compact roots.
Then would I come back next spring and dig them up if they had enough good collectible roots. Or is there more I should do? Or - should I collect a few poorer trees for 'practice' before I dig my favorites?

I'm also wondering about how to go about getting permission to collect from parks but I'm not sure how to go about it. The park adjacent to my land would make a convenient place to collect, but it's known for orchids and some other very rare plants, which makes me suspect they might not be very friendly to any kind of plant collecting.
 
Messages
441
Likes
340
Location
Denver, CO
USDA Zone
5b
#2
Contact the Forest Department for public lands. You pay about $10-20 per tree, and they will tell you in which areas and what species you can collect for trees up to 3 feet tall.
 
Messages
49
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33
Location
Shepherdstown
USDA Zone
6
#3
Only collect your favorites if you know they will recover well. Digging up a whole tree means chopping roots. They will need one or two years to recover from the damage and the shock.

First you should uncover the upper layer of soil to examine the root structure. This is also an opportunity to see the type of roots, which lets you understand how much of the root ball you need to leave alone. Try to keep the small fiberous roots intact. These are what will grow out after you chop and put the tree in a large pot.

When collecting, don't damage the roots closer to the trunk with a shovel. Try to keep them undamaged. Damage leads to rot. The only damaged part of the root should be where you chop it.

The other day I collected a maple from the woods. It has a 4 inch thick base. Here are some photos as an example. In one of the photos I have the roots uncovered when I washed off the soil. If you wash the soil out of the roots, make sure they don't dry out until you can get it planted in a proper pot and medium. IMG_5878.jpg IMG_5887.JPG

IMG_5896.JPG
 
Messages
818
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903
Location
Alameda, CA
USDA Zone
10a
#4
When I lived in Wisconsin I tried to get permission to collect on various state parks and natural areas and consistently got a firm "NO". Seems felling timber is OK, but collecting a few small trees is not. I was able to collect in the Nicolet National Forest in the north of the state. Those folks were nice and very accommodating. Warning though - on the first warm spring weekend I went off trail up there looking for trees and came home with 17 ticks. Still shudder when I think about it.

If you haven't collected anything before I recommend starting with some elms. If you have wooded property you're almost certain to have some elms on it. They are tough enough to tolerate almost any novice mistakes you might make.
 
Messages
441
Likes
340
Location
Denver, CO
USDA Zone
5b
#5
When I lived in Wisconsin I tried to get permission to collect on various state parks and natural areas and consistently got a firm "NO". Seems felling timber is OK, but collecting a few small trees is not. I was able to collect in the Nicolet National Forest in the north of the state. Those folks were nice and very accommodating. Warning though - on the first warm spring weekend I went off trail up there looking for trees and came home with 17 ticks. Still shudder when I think about it.

If you haven't collected anything before I recommend starting with some elms. If you have wooded property you're almost certain to have some elms on it. They are tough enough to tolerate almost any novice mistakes you might make.
They tell you were to collect, their job is to manage and protect the forest, not to accommodate bonsaists. And, by the way, if you collect without a permit, you are stealing. As simple as that.
 

karen82

Yamadori
Messages
79
Likes
71
Location
Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5
#6
Thank you everyone.
I checked the Wisconsin DNR site and looks like they do give permits to collect "fine woody material" including live trees up to 4" diameter for $1 or less per tree... but only in some areas. I guess the problem now is trying to find if they allow this at any of the nearby state parks and natural areas. I will definitely be looking for trees on my own property first, it is heavily wooded so there should be something.
 
Messages
834
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541
Location
Nipomo, CA
#7
Hey @karen82 sounds like fun and a good way to get into collecting. You could dig a circle around the tree and heel it in with bark, this will help the tree to produce roots closer to the trunk. I might suggest, digging something up soon-maybe something lower quality to see how it goes. then collect anything nicer next early spring, ideally just as the buds begin to swell, but not after they open. If it freezes or get's really cold after collection, you could bring the trees in an unheated garage for the nights.

Some other tips-try and get as many fine roots as possible. IMO pure sifted Pumice works fantastic for getting the trees to bounce back after collection. A tighter box or pot is generally the best way to go, you don't want to over pot your newly collected material. Always get permission and be respectful of the land, good luck!!!:)
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
Messages
12,770
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18,290
Location
Mio Michigan
USDA Zone
4
#10
Not true. Stealing is taking someone else's property without permission. Whether you get caugth or not is irrelevant.
Pretty serious huh?
You obviously don't know.
About me.
I'm not so serious sometimes.
But I have collected lots of trees.
On private,state and federal land.
All with permission.
The area is known for white cedars, balsam fir, white pine, white spruce, hemlock, tamarack, red maple, ect.
Of the trees listed tamarack and spruce are the best for bonsai.
If you are in these areas (wetter ground,low lying areas) you may also find hornbeams. Maybe hawthorns too.
If you aren't sure what trees are who,get a book on tree species.
Learn what they look like with leaves on and off.
And start digging.
You will lose some.
Trees die.
There are more growing right now.
Dig decent trees.
Don't waste time on sub par.
Sub par dies,no biggie.
But when a nice tree dies you feel it.
Makes you more cautious with the next.
 
Messages
818
Likes
903
Location
Alameda, CA
USDA Zone
10a
#11
They tell you were to collect, their job is to manage and protect the forest, not to accommodate bonsaists. And, by the way, if you collect without a permit, you are stealing. As simple as that.
Most of the national forests I've collected in recognize that some areas are pristine and need a hands off approach. Others areas are soon to be logged, roads built, other projects going on and removal of a few trees with permission will not have an impact. I respect that - hell I encourage that. In my experience state forests, while willing to accommodate logging operations, are unwilling to issue permits to weird bonsai people. Don't want to be bothered? Worried about setting some precedent that they'll regret later? Who knows.

By the way, who said anything about collecting without a permit?
 
Messages
266
Likes
271
Location
SE MI
USDA Zone
5b
#12
In my experience state forests, while willing to accommodate logging operations, are unwilling to issue permits to weird bonsai people. Don't want to be bothered? Worried about setting some precedent that they'll regret later? Who knows.
Harder to tax the bonsai artist.
 
Messages
808
Likes
1,946
Location
Northern Michigan
USDA Zone
5
#14
I agree sounds like fun and Door County actually looks like it will have some really really good potential yamadori. Im excited for you. A couple tips.....Aftercare is the most important part to figure out collecting in my opinion. Collecting comes down to get enough fine roots, be gentle, do it in the right season. You need to learn about aftercare with a little trial and error so I don't recommend collecting amazing trees until you get this figured out some. Maybe the trickiest part of aftercare is watering, this is difficult because a collected tree without a lot of roots will not take up a lot of water. Be careful that you don't over water but also make sure the tree doesnt dry out. For White Cedar I water the foliage only depending on how much roots it came out with. Larch and other deciduous should be the easiest. Smaller and younger will also generally be easier. Keep the tree protected from wind after collection. Tie the tree down very securely in its not oversized or undersized box. Make sure you sift your soil like others have said, take out the fines and the big stuff.

I wish it was easier to get permission on public lands. If I was you I would make friends with some private land owners and get permission on thier property. Be prepared for some odd looks.
 
Messages
266
Likes
271
Location
SE MI
USDA Zone
5b
#15
Taxing is the most efficient way to redistribute wealth and introduce some balance in an otherwise amoral market. I am all for taxes.
I'm not, but that's completely besides the point. Lumber companies make money off of the wood they take, and thus the state has an active incentive to let them do what they do. Bonsai artists don't make money, and thus the state has no incentive to bother with them.
 
Messages
3
Likes
0
Location
Indiana
USDA Zone
5
#16
I have about 2 acres of woods behind my house mostly ash with a mix of sycamore and cherry. My farmer neighbor gives me plenty of permission on his land and he has a massive grove of paper bark birch and one of Hawthorne and red oak. Could anyone please tell me which would be best for bonsai.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
19,522
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25,004
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
#17
I have about 2 acres of woods behind my house mostly ash with a mix of sycamore and cherry. My farmer neighbor gives me plenty of permission on his land and he has a massive grove of paper bark birch and one of Hawthorne and red oak. Could anyone please tell me which would be best for bonsai.
Hawthorn.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 
Messages
3
Likes
0
Location
Indiana
USDA Zone
5
#18
Hawthorne, I will keep that in mind. I think I may have a Hawthorne on my property maybe a good candidate for air layer. Thank you
 
Messages
441
Likes
340
Location
Denver, CO
USDA Zone
5b
#19
I'm not, but that's completely besides the point. Lumber companies make money off of the wood they take, and thus the state has an active incentive to let them do what they do. Bonsai artists don't make money, and thus the state has no incentive to bother with them.
I am just yanking your chain. Although I do believe what I sais about taxes!
 
Messages
295
Likes
265
Location
NC mountains
USDA Zone
6
#20
Check and see if you have a native plant society in your area. I used to belong to the one in Atlanta, GA and we'd go out and collect /anything/ we wanted, by permission, even endangered species and as much as we wanted, for absolutely free as long as we didn't collect for resale. Land that was about to be cleared for development is typical target locations. I once collected about 1,000 Lady Slipper orchids from a site where a MARTA station was being put in and with some help, got the colonies, duff and fungus relocated to private properties where pine forest fit the needs of the orchids. We also collected trees, both natives and invasive species. Usually there will be a specific date and the society will go as a group, with permits, to access the land (scheduled ahead of time), and volunteers are always welcome to help. A lot of states in the USA have these native plant society groups in the larger city areas at least so well worth looking them up. Even if it's a bit of a drive for you, a once a month trip, or even just once a year, can be a lot of fun.
 

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