Spring collected hackberry


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This guy was taken from the sides of a washed out ravine earlier this year. I'm trying to remember why I put it in a regular pot instead of a pond basket or grow box but for the life of me I can't recall. Not sure where to go with it next, it'll probably have to be cut back and regrown for better taper. I think the "foot" formed at the base and the sharp turn of the trunk will make it worth the wait.

Any thoughts on what should be done next spring with this one?

More importantly is it worth the work? I think it might have the bones of a nice tree but my opinion's probably skewed by ownership.

Thanks for any help.
Hey Grog,
I don't generally try to give either styling or cultural advice because I don't have a lot of confidence in my styling skills and I don't have experience growing most of the trees people ask advice about.
That said, I like what you have here. I've never grown hackberry so take this for what it's worth.
If it were mine I would think hard about slip potting it into a pond basket or the like and letting it grow wild for the rest of the year to grow roots and store some enegry. next spring I would chop the trunk back to one of the existing shoots to develop the taper like you already thought about.

I know, not real useful advice, but it's all I've got.

I do think you've collected a tree with a lot of potential. Thanks for sharing this wirh us.
How about more pictures?
Whooo! I finally hit 100 posts!!!

Alright Jay way to go!!!

I agree with Jay, Grog I would let it gain strength and then chop later. This material looks to have a fantastic start on an awsome nebari for sure. You can see the swelling around the trunk. If it were mine I would work on this first and then chop later.
Just a thought?

A Friend in bonsai
Thanks for the advice, it's plenty useful. I've been thinking about slip potting also but I'm not sure the roots have colonized the pot fully enough to be able to do so. I'm concerned that the current soil would simply fall away and I'd essentially be repotting the same year it was collected.

I have more pics on my laptop I believe, will post them later this evening.

The collection process was pretty exciting with this one. It had been growing on the edge of a ravine which has been washing away pretty steadily for the last ten years or so. The base of the tree was almost completely vertical, with the first couple inches parallel with the earth then the next section turning up towards the sun. I tied the base off to another tree and held on with one hand and hung over the edge to cut into the bank wall to get the roots out with the other. Not as hardcore as the Japanese guys scaling mountains to get to Shimpaku junipers by any means but fun nonetheless.

Also interesting, to me at least, is how my perception of it has changed. I was absolutely stoked about it this spring, thinking what a lucky find this tree was. I still like it now of course but realize that after the turn in the trunkline it's basically a stovepipe with minimal taper. For a good end result I think it's either going to take some creative carving which I have zero experience with or chopped back to about 2-3 inches past the turn and regrown.
That seems a good thought to me. The foot that goes out to the same side as the curve in the trunkline is one of it's more appealing features to me. Perhaps repotting this spring then chopping the following winter would be best for it. Or perhaps repotting and the cut should be done at the same time this spring. All depends on how much more growth it pushes this year and how good the roots look in the spring I would suppose.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
Sorry Irene I don't think these other shots show anything that isn't apparent from the prior two pictures.
I've had worse mornings, but not when it comes to growing trees. One of grandpa's cows got out sometime overnight and took a stroll through the yard, paying special attention to where the trees are. Apparently hackberry and elm taste good as they did some trimming of this and another collected hackberry and about a dozen little collected elms are gone.

On the plus side it's a little easier to see details of the base now.

I'm having prime rib tonight.. revenge is mine! :mad:
LoL Grog, I've had the same experience... The neighbors bull (my avatar) Got in one time and thought my benches were a salad bar. Did quite a bit of damage.
Well I wouldn't worry too much about this one. I'd cut it off where I marked it (in spring, I think) and build with the branches you will have, you'll get new buds everywhere. When the new leader gets to be about half to 2/3 the thickness of the base, carve back the stub and re-chop. You should have something nice in a few short years. Remember to make your curves smaller and tighter as you get toward the top, also exaggerate them because they tend to disappear as the trunk gets bigger.

Good luck, nice piece of material!
Good virt Chris.
Myself I would cut it back another 2-4 inches because they throw buds like crazy.
Good virt Chris.
Myself I would cut it back another 2-4 inches because they throw buds like crazy.

A. This was not a virtual bonsai. It was only a diagram.
2. Throwing buds is great, but I recommend a longer cut and later cutting back to where you suggested. Even hackberries can lose the bud you want if you cut too close to it. This way you ensure the maximum viable shoots and only do the final carve when your leader is too strong to hurt.
III. I don't do virts. Don't accuse me of virts. It's not a virt. No virts. None.
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Just to clarify things in my own mind. Chris, you're saying you don't do virts? :p

Thanks for the diagram, it makes sense to me to leave extra room since it can be taken out later.
Nothing too exciting just re-uploading the pics from before. I had to move this guy into the greenhouse last week after I noticed a bud starting to swell. No idea why it happened but I'm glad I noticed it.


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Kaput. Firewood. Grr.

April last year it started browning and losing leaves. I checked the tree over and found a perfect hole that looked like it'd been drilled out. I ass-u-me it was some type of borer. D-e-d dead.
That socks...OOPS! can I say that? I'll just respell it.:rolleyes:

I have lost a tree or three to borers. By the time you figure out something's wrong it's usually too late.
That socks...OOPS! can I say that? I'll just respell it.:rolleyes:

Sucks sucks suckssuckssucks. Sucks socks?:eek:

Anywho.. yeah.. apparently the best prevention is a healthy tree. I thought it was in pretty good shape but with it only being one year out of the ground it was obviously vulnerable. I'm still pretty uneducated in bonsai application of fungicide/pesticide/insecticide/whatchamacallitcide but with the loss of this and another hackberry plus some elms I'm trying to decide on a yearly(at least) preventative spray.
I'm trying to decide on a yearly(at least) preventative spray.

That's what I'm going to try this year. I experimented on a few of my trees last year with the Bayer tree and shrub yearly soil drench systemic insecticide.

It didn't seem to hurt the trees at all, but it sure put a stop to sucking insects that were decimating my oaks and maples. I expect it to work on borers too.... we'll find out this year.

Let us know if you find something that works.
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