Scots Pine Root Over Rock Project

AndyJ

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Hey Folks.

I’ve got a Scots Pine that I’m thinking of using in a RoR project and I’ve got a few questions for you folks:

  1. Has anyone done this? Would be great to see some examples if you have.
  2. Can you give me any tips?
  3. What did you do with your RoR that worked? What didn’t work?
  4. What substrate did you use around the rock? Did you use the same substrate outside?
  5. What did you use to tie the roots onto the rock’s surface?
  6. Did you plant the tree in the ground? Or did you plant it in a pot?
Anything else that I’ve forgotten that you would suggest I do?

Thanks all.

Andy
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I'm working on it with other pines. All in pots because those are harder. I have the time.
I used iron wire, uncoated and pre-heated so it will just rust away. Takes roughly a summer and a bit.
I'm using bonsai soil both inside the 'shell' as well as in the pot.
 

AndyJ

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Thanks Wires. I’ll sort myself out with some big enough pots. Are you using a coarse substrate? Or something more normal?

Any issues or precautions with bare-rooting pines for RoR?
 

James W.

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Hey Folks.

I’ve got a Scots Pine that I’m thinking of using in a RoR project and I’ve got a few questions for you folks:

  1. Has anyone done this? Would be great to see some examples if you have.
  2. Can you give me any tips?
  3. What did you do with your RoR that worked? What didn’t work?
  4. What substrate did you use around the rock? Did you use the same substrate outside?
  5. What did you use to tie the roots onto the rock’s surface?
  6. Did you plant the tree in the ground? Or did you plant it in a pot?
Anything else that I’ve forgotten that you would suggest I do?

Thanks all.

Andy
I have some mugo pines I am working on in this thread. I am also growing some JBP for the 6 Year JBP contest, pictures in post #32.
Tips, etc:
Use young, healthy trees. 2 year old seedlings work good. Two quart mugos from discount store did not work, the roots were too stiff and messy. You need a good spread of roots instead of a big tap root, so purpose grown seedlings or cuttings with root work done early are best.
I use cotton twine to tie the trees to the rock. Duck tape does not decompose much under the dirt and rootlets can grow into it making it hard to remove without damaging roots.
I use a cut pot to surround the rock and tree as close as possible to keep the roots from getting too far from the stone. I fill the gap with bonsai mix, finer and with more organic matter than normal. I tried wrapping some up tight but the trees I used didn't have long enough roots to reach out the bottom and I had a difficult time getting enough soil inside and later the tightly wrapped trees were very difficult to get watered well. Some people have used spagnum and I am trying that with some this year.
I set the tree-rock-wrapper assembly into a bigger pot on top of a layer of bonsai mix and fill in around it with mulch. It is important to get the entire tree and rock buried to protect the roots from too much heat. I usually fill the inner pot with soil after surrounding it with mulch to push the wrapper as close to the rock as possible. Work the soil in with chopsticks and a stream of water from a hose.
Trees planted like this are growing with a very small bit of soil so a good watering regimen is important.
 

AndyJ

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I have some mugo pines I am working on in this thread. I am also growing some JBP for the 6 Year JBP contest, pictures in post #32.
Tips, etc:
Use young, healthy trees. 2 year old seedlings work good. Two quart mugos from discount store did not work, the roots were too stiff and messy. You need a good spread of roots instead of a big tap root, so purpose grown seedlings or cuttings with root work done early are best.
I use cotton twine to tie the trees to the rock. Duck tape does not decompose much under the dirt and rootlets can grow into it making it hard to remove without damaging roots.
I use a cut pot to surround the rock and tree as close as possible to keep the roots from getting too far from the stone. I fill the gap with bonsai mix, finer and with more organic matter than normal. I tried wrapping some up tight but the trees I used didn't have long enough roots to reach out the bottom and I had a difficult time getting enough soil inside and later the tightly wrapped trees were very difficult to get watered well. Some people have used spagnum and I am trying that with some this year.
I set the tree-rock-wrapper assembly into a bigger pot on top of a layer of bonsai mix and fill in around it with mulch. It is important to get the entire tree and rock buried to protect the roots from too much heat. I usually fill the inner pot with soil after surrounding it with mulch to push the wrapper as close to the rock as possible. Work the soil in with chopsticks and a stream of water from a hose.
Trees planted like this are growing with a very small bit of soil so a good watering regimen is important.
Hey James.

Thanks for your reply. Based on what you have said, I‘m wondering if my pine might be too old? I did get it bare rooted last autumn and it had long fairly flexible roots which is why I thought it might be a contender.
 

James W.

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Hey James.

Thanks for your reply. Based on what you have said, I‘m wondering if my pine might be too old? I did get it bare rooted last autumn and it had long fairly flexible roots which is why I thought it might be a contender.
The roots closest to the trunk are the ones that will give you the most trouble but if you can get them bent and secured they should work fine.
If you bare rooted last fall you are risking the tree by bare rooting again so soon. If the tree is disposable, go for it. Or shop around for a younger tree.

Very cool rock! Excellent choice (in my humble opinion).
 

AndyJ

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Thanks James. Yeah a bit risky I guess - the tree was only cheap. I got it bare root last autumn so it was dormant - I’m gambling that it’s still dormant now so if I tie it to rock before it starts into growth this spring, I might be ok?
 

Vance Wood

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The roots trees being trained into this form must be young a supple or they will never look as though they formed that way. Here in America we are in such a bloody hurry to accomplish something bonsai related that we forget that patience is one extremely vital technique many of us never acquire until late in out bonsai experience. We start heading down the right road but give up the project before it starts to bear fruit.
 

James W.

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Thanks James. Yeah a bit risky I guess - the tree was only cheap. I got it bare root last autumn so it was dormant - I’m gambling that it’s still dormant now so if I tie it to rock before it starts into growth this spring, I might be ok?
Yes, you will probably be OK.
 

sorce

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What do you think?
I think you should start with a seed.

That tree can't be more than 3 years old.
In all honesty, that 3 years is just a jump on imperfection.

Or order 20 more barerooted seedlings and pick one straight away to tie on.

Consider a direction change for the rock.

Something about what may be a Lattice of rock lines and roots in the other orientation that I feel will always be an unwelcome attraction to the eye.

Sorce
 

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AndyJ

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Thanks for your thoughts, gents. However, @sorce I’m a tad confused; I have read in several bonsai books (including Harry Tomlinson’s Complete Book of Bonsai), where he advocates using 3 year-old saplings to begin a RoR project, which is why I bought this 3-year-old Scots Pine. Please can you share your thoughts as to why this isn’t right?

Did you get better results by using seedlings rather than the type of stock I have suggested in this post?

@Vance Wood - I’ve got all the patience in the world And am not in a bloody hurry - I was just following guidance that was detailed in a book. However, I am eager to learn from others who have been successful using other techniques - please can you share how you do RoR projects? Some accompanying pictures would be great too!

Thanks again both.

Andy
 

James W.

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Thanks for your thoughts, gents. However, @sorce I’m a tad confused; I have read in several bonsai books (including Harry Tomlinson’s Complete Book of Bonsai), where he advocates using 3 year-old saplings to begin a RoR project, which is why I bought this 3-year-old Scots Pine. Please can you share your thoughts as to why this isn’t right?

Did you get better results by using seedlings rather than the type of stock I have suggested in this post?

@Vance Wood - I’ve got all the patience in the world And am not in a bloody hurry - I was just following guidance that was detailed in a book. However, I am eager to learn from others who have been successful using other techniques - please can you share how you do RoR projects? Some accompanying pictures would be great too!

Thanks again both.

Andy
I like @sorce's orientation on the rock.
And yes, younger material seems to produce better results. But it they are too small they are hard to secure to the rock and you have less control over where the roots might go.
 

sorce

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Did you get better results by using seedlings rather than the type of stock I have suggested in this post?
Something about a third year pine root going to be hard to get into them cracks.

Don't know if the book says what kind of tree, but that'll matter.
Preparation matters too, where, a properly prepared at the roots 3YO sapling trident may work, a pine coming from a colander is the other end of the spectrum.
Though I understand it hasn't been Colandered too long.

But that's why I would try to increase your odds with more bareroot material.

Here's the math.

With one seedling, you're basically not gonna get a good end product.

With every one you buy to "try" you increase your odds of a good final product.

But that seedling process will always be about 70-80% "good" and the possibility of having that in 10 years is good.

On the other hand.

You can plant a seed on that rock, dig it to Repot in a year or 5 and it sucks ass.
That can go on forever.

But, once that seeds roots do make it into the right crevices, you can have an excellent finished product, it could just take 100 years.

How patient are you?

I'd want to see them roots running down very specific channels in that rock.

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Orientation of the rock shifts the depth perception.

horizontal fractures, tends to bring the "scene" closer to you. - bigger tree is needed, you mentally are closer to the scene. Pine is good

This rock, turned on its side, so fractures are vertical, tends to make the "scene" more distant visually. A smaller tree is needed, as you are further from the scene. Finer foliage, such as juniper or hinoki, would allow you to use a smaller tree.

TIlted so that the fractures run at an angle - will set the motion for the scene, tree should be styled to continue this motion, even though geologic directions in nature do not "cause" tree directions. It will set the motion in the scene.

I would use a pine for the rock set so fractures are horizontal, and for the scene with fractures at a diagonal.
 

James W.

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Something about a third year pine root going to be hard to get into them cracks.

Don't know if the book says what kind of tree, but that'll matter.
Preparation matters too, where, a properly prepared at the roots 3YO sapling trident may work, a pine coming from a colander is the other end of the spectrum.
Though I understand it hasn't been Colandered too long.

But that's why I would try to increase your odds with more bareroot material.

Here's the math.

With one seedling, you're basically not gonna get a good end product.

With every one you buy to "try" you increase your odds of a good final product.

But that seedling process will always be about 70-80% "good" and the possibility of having that in 10 years is good.

On the other hand.

You can plant a seed on that rock, dig it to Repot in a year or 5 and it sucks ass.
That can go on forever.

But, once that seeds roots do make it into the right crevices, you can have an excellent finished product, it could just take 100 years.

How patient are you?

I'd want to see them roots running down very specific channels in that rock.

Sorce
In my (admittedly limited) experience three year old trident roots are already too stiff to place properly. Trident roots thicken up quicker than pine roots. On the other hand, pine roots may never meld into the rock like a maple so very early start is needed to get a believable result.

Listen to @Leo in N E Illinois, he has a very good eye for artistry.
 

AndyJ

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Thanks for those thoughts gents. I’ve got a few 1-year Scots pine seedlings - I’ll dig them out and see whether any of those have ok roots.

I’d not thought the fractures would have a bearing in design! Thank you, that’ll make me look at it differently
 

sorce

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As soon as I turned that picture a nice little image of that far mountain scene showed up for me.

Impossible to make a tree so tiny!

I think once you get some of that root and moss covered it will serve a good purpose in regards to size as Leo was speaking of.

I would almost love to see roots horizontal in the cracks as you have it, with the tree hanging off the side.

Bonus you have seedlings already!

I have a hard time throwing scraps of clay away for recycling, I want to make something with it NOW!
But once I allow myself to forget about it, it becomes easier to focus on the actual project.

You should treat (as many seedlings as you can afford) your seedlings like that as much as possible, sacrificing many to find one. Where, you won't have a safe amount of time to have them ALL out and being contemplated AND have them all thrive afterwards.

Perhaps a large tub of clean water to toss them all in as you peruse what may work best on the rock, or...rocks if you're on it!

This way, you can take your time more comfortably going thru them all.

Sorce
 

AndyJ

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Thanks @sorce - really appreciate you taking the time. I’m thinking I might get the seedlings out of their pots tomorrow and do like you said and wash their roots off so I can have a good look at their roots. So I’m looking for lots of long roots on a seedling? Or just lots of roots?!
 
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