Possible purchases?

Divide_by_zero

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I finally found a nursery just out of town that has a Limber Pine (pinus flexilis) in the field which they estimate is 30 to 40 years old (it was in the field when they bought the place several years back). It is about 5 ft tall and has a trunk that is wider than the palm of my hand at the base. The trunk line takes a 45 ° bend about 5" above the ground and the top of the tree looks like it was chopped a year or more ago. There are plenty of side branches low down to start building movement by chopping the tree off and establishing a new leader. (It's a shame pines do not air layer, there are so many other branches further up that have all sorts of potential)

I am very tempted to purchase the tree and get them to lift it in the spring for me. The main problem I have with it is that, understandably, they are asking a significant price for it ($400 CDN ish) and I wonder if I'm willing to risk that on any tree... even though this is probably the only way I will ever get my hands on such large material. Unfortunately, my Yamadori hunting days are behind me.

While I didn't go there looking for anything else they also have a Bur Oak (quercus macrocarpa) in the field that looked interesting. It's about 20 years old, a trunk base about three quarters the width of my palm and about 6 ft tall, again with a broken top. It looks more like a bush with lots of low side branches and lots of potential (again pricey, $300 ish).

I also noticed a 30 to 40 ft Northern Red Oak (quercus rubra) that was an enormous tall whip in a nursery tub. The trunk base is much smaller than the others and I'd guess it's not much more than 10 years old. It doesn't have the exciting potential or size of the others but if it air layers well I could probably get 6 + trees out of it.

While I'm fairly familiar with growing Limber Pines (one of my very first Yamadori 20+ years ago, before they became endangered species out here). I have no experience with Oaks and how suited they are to being grown and trained as bonsai.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

And yes, I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of them when I was out there.
 
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Potawatomi13

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And yes, I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of them when I was out there.
This would be first request to see if worth doing. Sounds maybe exciting. One caveat that Limber may have VERY heavy rootball needed to survive?
 

Potawatomi13

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Oaks are one personal favorite. Some on here feel Bur Oak is a good tree and personally have 3 northern Red Oaks growing up from seedlings. Generally can be cut back a lot and will regrow however Oaks not known for layering well. There is some comment small diameter oak can maybe be layered. Smaller is more likely than anything with decent bark.
 

sorce

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Too much for nonsai.

Sorce
 

Paradox

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To be honest, they sound like they might be too big to reasonably handle. Can you lift and move a large heavy tree around or do you have someone that can help you reliably?

Most of the time, the time and effort it would take to make a large field grown tree that was not grown and cultivated for bonsai into a bonsai is not worth it. They rarely live up to the potential your minds eye thinks they will.

I would save your money for something that will we more worth your time and funds.
 

BobbyLane

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I would go back and take some pictures. sounds like they have potential, big bases and lost of low branches as you say. its sounds like what theyre asking isnt unreasonable for large field grown material. i would find out what theyre going to use to dig it out though. you definitely want a good sized healthy root ball. but i would take and assess the pictures first and think it over.
 

BobbyLane

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see these are the types of trees guys like Ryan neil nab, work on them for a few years and sells them for 1000's of dollars;)
 
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Sounds like a lot of work with a mattok. I have experience digging up trees completely outside the Bonsai hobby (that I'm still new in). The older and bigger the tree, the larger the root ball probably is. If you want the tree to survive, do it in late winter early spring obviously. The easiest elbow grease way is to get a thin shovel and start digging out a perimeter circle around the tree and cutting each root with your axe mattok. Once you dig and cut about 2-3ft down (even lower if it's a 40-60ft tree), start digging and cutting a straight line from your circle towards the tree. Eventually you'll come to the taproot if the species has one. Don't even consider using a chainsaw as you'll dull it in about 0.5 seconds. Either use a sawzall with a wood blade, or a hand saw and cut the tap root. Then you can either use some hand winches strapped to another tree or large boulder and slowly lift it out of the ground, or you can have someone with a tractor or backhoe to get the rest out. The winch method is honestly pretty easy if you have that option and they're not that expensive. You can try to winch it out without cutting the tap root if the tree isn't that big. The taproot will just break if you have a big enough winch, or multiple smaller ones. I've also winched trees up slightly to expose the taproot more for easy cutting. Just don't do the redneck method of thinking your buddies 4x4 Dodge pickup will be able to pull it out in a muddy field, because odds are it won't, which often resorts to redneck "Hurr Durr gain speed first and yank my bumper off or bend my frame" They'll either mess their truck up or snap a $100 chain.
 

rockm

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If it's a nursery worth its plants, it will have machines to help with the excavation. A word of warning, as mentioned, you are going to wind up with an enormous root mass most likely (and for the limber pine that's not a bad thing, since it may not survive a drastic root reduction at first). Those root masses will weigh over 100 lbs, more like 200 for the larger trees.

I would carefully consider that, as you will have to move those roots and trees yourself once you get them home.

I would stick to already containerized trees if moving these beasts is a problem. I speak from experience having found a 30 foot tall Bald cypress with a seven inch dia. trunk at a local landscape nursery. They were having a sale on trees in 15 gallon containers. This tree was in a 15 gallon container, but had escaped the pot and rooted in the ground. It must have been in the same location for over five years. It took three guys a half hour to grub out the roots and trunk. I didn't have to deal with the entire root mass, as BC can take severe root reduction and bounce back.

I have a friend who found a six inch diameter willow oak in a 25 gallon pot at a local nursery. It was on sale for $200. It weighed 150 lbs. He had quite a job working that root mass into a manageable size. Took a few years of repeated reduction, which took considerable effort moving the tree around and manipulating the root mass. He still cusses at that tree even though its in a bonsai training pot and weighs only 70 lbs.

Finally, large trees as bonsai weigh a lot. I have a live oak that has been in a bonsai pot for 25 years now. It weighs well over 100 lbs. It's a bitch to move and repot. I can't do it alone because steadying the tree to prune roots can result in broken branches and other mayhem. I have to have help to repot it and even move it across the yard. I like large bonsai. Most of my trees are over 50 lbs each. I, however, am not getting any younger and they seem to get heavier each year.
 
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I would stick to already containerized trees if moving these beasts is a problem. I speak from experience having found a 30 foot tall Bald cypress with a seven inch dia. trunk at a local landscape nursery. They were having a sale on trees in 15 gallon containers. This tree was in a 15 gallon container, but had escaped the pot and rooted in the ground. It must have been in the same location for over five years. It took three guys a half hour to grub out the roots and trunk. I didn't have to deal with the entire root mass, as BC can take severe root reduction and bounce back.

I have a friend who found a six inch diameter willow oak in a 25 gallon pot at a local nursery. It was on sale for $200. It weighed 150 lbs. He had quite a job working that root mass into a manageable size. Took a few years of repeated reduction, which took considerable effort moving the tree around and manipulating the root mass. He still cusses at that tree even though its in a bonsai training pot and weighs only 70 lbs.
I was at a Nursery yesterday that had a potted red Japanese lace leaf maple for $350 non-sale price. It's obviously been there for years and the size of the trunk was guesstimating around 6-7" diameter. I'm considering buying it just so I can air layer a bunch of smaller bonsai and to see what I could do with that monster trunk. I'm guessing the Nursery purchased it years ago and never bothered changing the original tag price as it grew and grew.
 

LanceMac10

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Even not so big can be pretty awkward to move on your own....
DSC00593.JPG

Actual big needs "two-hands".....

DSC00600.JPG
 

Divide_by_zero

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To be honest, they sound like they might be too big to reasonably handle. Can you lift and move a large heavy tree around or do you have someone that can help you reliably?

Most of the time, the time and effort it would take to make a large field grown tree that was not grown and cultivated for bonsai into a bonsai is not worth it. They rarely live up to the potential your minds eye thinks they will.

I would save your money for something that will we more worth your time and funds.
I love a challenge.🤪 That's why I have never bought a fully styled tree just to have it in my collection. I really enjoy the feeling I get when I'm chopping and wiring away at completely new material and come up with something that looks reasonably like a bonsai, even if I know it'll never be show quality. Hell, I even get a lot of peace and satisfaction out of the dreary maintenance tasks when I'm working on something I've created.

I've McGyver'd lots of different contraptions to help me in handling large material in the past so I'm fairly confident these critters wouldn't get the better of me. And if all else fails I used to snatch 150 lbs when I lifted, though I doubt my right ankle would be able to hold that for long anymore.😁
 

Divide_by_zero

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Sounds like a lot of work with a mattok. I have experience digging up trees completely outside the Bonsai hobby (that I'm still new in). The older and bigger the tree, the larger the root ball probably is. If you want the tree to survive, do it in late winter early spring obviously. The easiest elbow grease way is to get a thin shovel and start digging out a perimeter circle around the tree and cutting each root with your axe mattok. Once you dig and cut about 2-3ft down (even lower if it's a 40-60ft tree), start digging and cutting a straight line from your circle towards the tree. Eventually you'll come to the taproot if the species has one. Don't even consider using a chainsaw as you'll dull it in about 0.5 seconds. Either use a sawzall with a wood blade, or a hand saw and cut the tap root. Then you can either use some hand winches strapped to another tree or large boulder and slowly lift it out of the ground, or you can have someone with a tractor or backhoe to get the rest out. The winch method is honestly pretty easy if you have that option and they're not that expensive. You can try to winch it out without cutting the tap root if the tree isn't that big. The taproot will just break if you have a big enough winch, or multiple smaller ones. I've also winched trees up slightly to expose the taproot more for easy cutting. Just don't do the redneck method of thinking your buddies 4x4 Dodge pickup will be able to pull it out in a muddy field, because odds are it won't, which often resorts to redneck "Hurr Durr gain speed first and yank my bumper off or bend my frame" They'll either mess their truck up or snap a $100 chain.
Getting them out of the ground wouldn't be a problem, there were several different sizes of those hydraulic powered tree spade contraptions in beside their quonset and they even offered to provide a crew to plant them in my yard. That was before I told them I was looking at them for bonsai, then I got a lot of silence and puzzled looks😉. My main challenge would be getting them home on a small flat bed and into training boxes that I'd probably build out of cedar lumber or something. I suppose I could ask their crew to help with that, but I'm sure they wouldn't be cheap.🤑
 
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Getting them out of the ground wouldn't be a problem, there were several different sizes of those hydraulic powered tree spade contraptions in beside their quonset and they even offered to provide a crew to plant them in my yard. That was before I told them I was looking at them for bonsai, then I got a lot of silence and puzzled looks😉. My main challenge would be getting them home on a small flat bed and into training boxes that I'd probably build out of cedar lumber or something. I suppose I could ask their crew to help with that, but I'm sure they wouldn't be cheap.🤑
You'd be surprised how much a rented U-Haul or Penske moving truck can hold;) Often times cheaper than paying for a flat bed to haul it.
 

BobbyLane

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Those are beautiful trees. Far better looking than anything I've ever had.
i once lived in Calgary alberta believe it or not! a long long time ago. from 92-98, i was 17 when my dad who was living out there sent for me. he has since moved on to Florida, now retired.
i think it was falconridge road we lived on. i dont miss being sent out to shovel snow in -15 weather!:eek::D
 

Divide_by_zero

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i once lived in Calgary alberta believe it or not! a long long time ago. from 92-98, i was 17 when my dad who was living out there sent for me. he has since moved on to Florida, now retired.
i think it was falconridge road we lived on. i dont miss being sent out to shovel snow in -15 weather!:eek::D
I'm just a mile or so north of Falconridge myself. If you think -15°C was bad, try -40°for weeks at a time and still being expected to get to class every day. That was my youth in Regina.

Anyway, my apologies to all, completely off topic.
 

Divide_by_zero

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Please ignore this post. I thought I was answering a different thread but it wound up on the end of this one??
 
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