Trees/Bushes... Help would be appreciated.

Kevster

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I just got a phone call granting me permission to help myself to what ever I want to a 10 acre lot of ground that has been semi over run for the past 8-10 years along side a state forest that is about to get cleared for a houses in the next couple weeks.
I was told there are an abundant amount of small wild trees and bushes from seedlings to adult trees but most are about 1-8 years of age besides the large adult trees.
It's still spring (late spring) so I hope what I do get lives.
Black Locus
Red Mulberry
Eastern Red Cedar
Pin Oak
Willow Oak
Persimmon
Sand Cherry
Swamp Maple (no idea what this is)
and what ever other native plants to Delaware there might be.

My question is has anyone worked with black Locust, Pin Oak, Red Mulberry, Persimmon, Sand Cherry or a "Swamp Maple"?
Any info, tips, or tricks would help especially figuring out what a swamp maple is.
And does anyone know of some great native species to my area I should keep an eye open for?

Thanks,
Kevin
 

jk_lewis

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Swamp maple is Acer rubrum, aka American red maple. It is a difficult bonsai subject -- as are several other plants on your list, including black locust (large compound leaves with small round leaflets), red mulberry (quite large leaves, weedy), easterm red cedar -- a juniper, actually, and usually arrow straight and with VERY prickly foliage that irritates the skin like no other juniper; persimmon, again quite large leaves.

The sand cherry (Prunus depressa) may have the greatest potential. It is often a prostrate shrub with quite gnarly trunk and branches. It is susceptibe o every known leaf spot disease, through, and always look for borers. Willow oak may have potential, too. Nice small, narow leaves. But a very slow grower.
 

rockm

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Since you seem to have access to a big plot, you have to narrow things down. Thinking you can collect dozens of trees will be a waste of effort and you may miss the best ones. First, I would take a walk through the plot. Look at the lower 12 inches of tree TRUNKS--forget everything above four feet. It's going away.DO NOT CONSIDER SPECIES at this point. You've looking for the most interesting trunks. It you find a good one with movement and some interest in the lower three feet, THEN identify it. If it's interesting, some species foibles and faults can be forgiven (a bit).

First off I would mostly eliminate the red (swamp) maple, red cedar and black locust for the reasons Jim mentioned. They're reallly not worth the time to collect--UNLESS you find one with a good trunk-but mostly likely you will not among these species. Red maple can sometimes have great surface roots that impress first timers, but more often than not, even with that, they're not worth the trouble. For me to bother with a red maple, the trunk has to be excellent. "OK" or even "good" doesn't cut it.

The pin oak and willow oak can work into decent bonsai. WIllow oak, in particular, is worthwhile and not all that hard to collect (it tends to have a shallow root mass and limited tap root). They are VERY strong vigorous growers in the right conditions. The cherry might also be worthwhile, but like all prunus species it can be a bug and fungus magnet. They tend to have extremely boring trunks with uninteresting smooth gunmetal bark (and the bark remains uninteresting for a VERY long time). If you find a trunk with flaky plated bark that is under 12 inches in diameter, it might be worth digging.

American persimmon is a very under utlized species for bonsai. If you find a larger trunk (like over 6 inches in diameter at the soil line) that has mature bark, it's worth collecting. Smaller trunks aren't worth the trouble, as the species tends to have larger leaves and is a bit lanky in growth.
 

Kevster

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Thanks you two for the help and suggestions. I actually went there right after I posted this to check it out and did as you said rockm and walked through it. Took pictures of some stuff to help me identify it online and hung ribbons from a few things I know I want such is what I believe to be a Virginia Pine and a lot of bushes that look like they have green (unripe) blue berries. Not sure if we have them around here or not but soon to find out.
At some point someone has tried to maintain this lot a little by cutting everything down with a bush hog (pull behind mower) a few times which did great wonders on creating nice 2" thick trunks that have nice low branching on a lot of stuff to start Shohin or Mini. The rest of the stuff is tall leggy without really any branches below 4 feet and they are twigs.
I have to take my time and pick my selection carefully. I guess either way it's a learning experience with material that is going to be dozed down anyway so it won't hurt to play and learn some more.
 

rockm

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Thick trunked blueberry make excellent bonsai. They tend to drop branching periodically as bonsai, but if the trunk is good, the branching can be regrown....Their flowers, fruit and fall color make them worth the trouble.
 

daudelus

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I would be concerned about the time of the year for collecting. It makes aftercare even more important, but if you are willing to put the work in to get the material, give it a try. Be sure to have shaded areas for the months after removal, especially with the Delaware (hazy, hot, humid) summer.
 

evmibo

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First off I would mostly eliminate the red (swamp) maple, red cedar and black locust for the reasons Jim mentioned. They're reallly not worth the time to collect--UNLESS you find one with a good trunk-but mostly likely you will not among these species. Red maple can sometimes have great surface roots that impress first timers, but more often than not, even with that, they're not worth the trouble. For me to bother with a red maple, the trunk has to be excellent. "OK" or even "good" doesn't cut it.
Why? (referring to the red maple, Acer rubrum) The main reason I ask is because I've collected about a dozen 3-10" seedlings this past week. I've been doing some homework before that and still am trying to get well aquainted with why people dislike it. I've heard they can sometimes have random dieback, the internodes can be large and yes the leaves tend to be on the large side. But the latter two can be corrected with training and perhaps with some babying dieback could be prevented. Were you trying to say that some people don't realize what exactly they're getting into with some species, and that trunk chops usually fail for the rubrum?

Brent at evergreen has an informative article on the from Jim Lewis that I've read through a couple times now. I'm in search for more.
 
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rockm

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The main reason I ask is because I've collected about a dozen 3-10" seedlings this past week. I've been doing some homework before that and still am trying to get well aquainted with why people dislike it. I've heard they can sometimes have random dieback, the internodes can be large and yes the leaves tend to be on the large side. But the latter two can be corrected with training and perhaps with some babying dieback could be prevented. Were you trying to say that some people don't realize what exactly they're getting into with some species, and that trunk chops usually fail for the rubrum?

Ask again in 15 years or so after you've spent some time with them:D..It will take a while to grow your seedlings to a workable size, about five or six years. The next four, the refinement phase, is where the species shows its true colors. It can be worked into a decent bonsai, but it's a headache. Why spend your time with a headache when there are many more native species that make much better bonsai with half the effort?
 

evmibo

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Why spend your time with a headache when there are many more native species that make much better bonsai with half the effort?
Because I like a challenge, I'll pm you in 15 years ;)
 
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