What do I have?

DavidBoren

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Hi, I am David, and I live in Portland, Oregon, USA.

I dug this up in the corner of my yard and threw it in a random pot about six weeks ago... and I don't actually know what it is. The tree is probably between 1 and 2 years old, and has possibly been mowed over and started from scratch at one point. I think it is either an Oregon Ash or possibly a Manitoba Maple, although it could be something else, entirely. I am hoping its an Ash, since they live longer, or can. And preserving an Ash from the inevitable Emerald Borer plague would be nice.

Regardless of which species it is, my plans remain the same... I plan to grow it in this pot for a year (or so), then replant it into a pot about half this size for another year (or so). I want to get the trunk to widen, then downsize the tree with progressively smaller pots... ending in a bonsai tray. I have no idea about shape or design, yet... I don't even know what tree it is, whether it is male or female, or really anything about anything. That is why I am here.

When it dug it up, there was another leaf towards the nebula that I thought was part of the tree, but turned out to be some ivy weed. I just recently removed all of that weed I could see/find. Both the weed and the tree have been watered every day since being potted (about six weeks), and the pot sits outside of the house, under the overhang of the roof. The pot already had years-old/dried-out potting soil in, and I added some fresh potting soil to that, as well as some coffee grounds and wood ash. The tree was dug up with a decent (softball/grapfruit sized) ball of original soil surrounding its roots, and this was inserted into a spot made for it in the pot.

It has survived in this environment for over a month, so I am not overly worried about the condition of the soil. The soil drains well, and I recently added some random potted plant food spikes to at least guarantee the presence of some essential nutrients. It has been watered with between 20oz to 32oz of hose/tap water every day.

Can anyone positively identify this tree for me?
 

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penumbra

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Looks like an Ash. Where is it growing? Where do you live.?
 

DavidBoren

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Portland, Oregon, USA.

The Pacific Northwest is essentially a temperate rainforest. It is, however, nice and cold being winter and all. Probably 50's in the day, mid-30's at night. Hopefully the pot doesn't get cold enough to freeze through. We will see.

Thank you for the reply. I am hoping it is an Ash.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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The sample is pretty ratty, but with those pinnately compound leaves it does look like an Oregon Ash. Score one for @penumbra !!

They are said to be really good for keeping rattlesnakes away. Too bad you don't live in eastern Oregon!

btw: Please double click your icon and enter both your approximate location and USDA Zone. This is very helpful to folks trying to give you advice as well as to folks who live in your neck of the woods.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

DavidBoren

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Thank you for the response. I updated my profile to reflect my location and USDA zone.

Yeah, the sample is rather ratty. Like I said, it may or may not have been mowed over at some point in its life. The camera on my phone leaves a lot to be desired, as well.

Assuming it survives, I don't really plan on doing anything other than keeping it alive this next year. Eventually, I will cut away ~40% of what's above ground, and repot it into a pot about half the size of the current one... with as little root reduction as possible. After a year (or so) in the smaller pot, I will cut it down to size, and prune the roots to be anchored into a bonsai pot.

Might have jumped the gun on joining a bonsai forum when I am still years away from having a potential bonsai tree.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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You wouldn’t be the first, or even the 100th in that regard 😎. We help whomever.

Since you are in Portland, have you joined the club there? It’s really good.

While an Oregon Ash will be a good tree to learn your horticulture on, you might also be on the look out for some of the other PacNW trees, vine maple, hemlocks etc.

Oh yes…. Welcome Aboard!

Cheers
DSD sends
 

DavidBoren

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I have not yet joined the Bonsai Society of Portland, although I do plan to. Figured I would stick with the free forums until I actually have a bonsai tree.

This tree has a lot of character I am hoping to preserve. Although I don't know what I am going to do with that fork, it does at least give me something to work with.
 

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Potawatomi13

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Hi, I am David, and I live in Portland, Oregon, USA.

I dug this up in the corner of my yard and threw it in a random pot about six weeks ago... and I don't actually know what it is. The tree is probably between 1 and 2 years old, and has possibly been mowed over and started from scratch at one point. I think it is either an Oregon Ash or possibly a Manitoba Maple, although it could be something else, entirely. I am hoping its an Ash, since they live longer, or can. And preserving an Ash from the inevitable Emerald Borer plague would be nice.

Regardless of which species it is, my plans remain the same... I plan to grow it in this pot for a year (or so), then replant it into a pot about half this size for another year (or so). I want to get the trunk to widen, then downsize the tree with progressively smaller pots... ending in a bonsai tray. I have no idea about shape or design, yet... I don't even know what tree it is, whether it is male or female, or really anything about anything. That is why I am here.

When it dug it up, there was another leaf towards the nebula that I thought was part of the tree, but turned out to be some ivy weed. I just recently removed all of that weed I could see/find. Both the weed and the tree have been watered every day since being potted (about six weeks), and the pot sits outside of the house, under the overhang of the roof. The pot already had years-old/dried-out potting soil in, and I added some fresh potting soil to that, as well as some coffee grounds and wood ash. The tree was dug up with a decent (softball/grapfruit sized) ball of original soil surrounding its roots, and this was inserted into a spot made for it in the pot.

It has survived in this environment for over a month, so I am not overly worried about the condition of the soil. The soil drains well, and I recently added some random potted plant food spikes to at least guarantee the presence of some essential nutrients. It has been watered with between 20oz to 32oz of hose/tap water every day.

Can anyone positively identify this tree for me?
Aack! Poison Oak😂.
 

sorce

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Looks like an Ashes to Ashes!

Welcome to Crazy!

If it takes to air layering, trying to condense down what is 98% likely to be an unuseful base and surface roots will greatly work against your goals.

Better to leave it grow out in that pot and layer your new base and surface roots later.

You can fail with test airlayers on unneeded branches for 3 or 4 years and still figure it out with a better end tree faster than repotting constantly.

Sorce
 

DavidBoren

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... looks up what "air layering" is...

Yeah, that was my plan all along. Lol.

Thank you for the reply.

Air layering looks an awful lot like girding, and scares me too much to consider at this time. I know you were saying to practice and do it [air layering] in the future... but I think I would rather just have a gnarly base. I could always just bury it deeper in soil, too.

I wasn't trying anything fancy, honestly... I just didn't dig a deep enough hole in the pot to sit the root ball as deep as I probably should have. I was having problems with water running out of the pot before absorbing into the soil, so I stabbed eleven million holes in the soil with 10" screwdriver and built a depression centered around the base of the tree. The manufacturing of said depression exposed more of the base of the tree... but it was necessary to dig out that hitchhiking weed. And the resulting water collection/drainage is spot on, me-thinks.

We will have to wait and see. Fortune favors the bold, so I may grow a pair and air layer this tree in a few years. I may try use the base it has for a good many years too long out of stubbornness, before finally recreating a new nebula to replace the base it has now. I'm wierd like that. I try to be receptive of advice, and I respect the experience of others... but I hate being told what to do. Sometimes I throw convention to the wind, go against the grain. Sometimes I march to the beat of my own drum.

I am here to learn, though, and techniques like air layering are probably best learnt sooner, rather than later...
 

Deep Sea Diver

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As always, your tree, your choice.

Taking one’s time and absorbing practical knowledge from others is good practice…. unless you are 70 and figure you may not have a lot of time to wait around for a sapling to grow into a bonsai. Then you end up volunteering for multiple years, like I do, at the local bonsai museum so you can work on lots of incredible bonsai and learn really fast

Yet you did join this forum to learn. It might be wise to discover a way to put a temporary halter on your stubborn streak while listening to and learning from the folks here.

There is a lot to be said about joining a club even if you don’t have any trees. There is plenty of support in each club for newbies… we all were new and most everyone of us remember what it was like to have our first tree. Helping new folks is part f every club’s mission.

imho This is a starter tree. Your first tree, unless it’s a full blown bonsai (and then that will be too) is for building and practicing horticultural skills and bonsai techniques while getting a basic handle on styling… as will be your next 5 or 10 more… unless one is unusually talented.

That’s it from me, as I’m punching out of this thread.

Good Luck,
DSD sends
 

DavidBoren

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Found a cool nordic poem (Völuspá) that tells of a certain ash tree (Yggdrasil) with its crown ascending above the clouds, its heights surrounded by fierce winds. And I think I might have found some inspiration on which direction to take this little Ash tree of mine.

If I stand the trunk vertical, the two tips have a slant to them... not unlike being surrounded by fierce winds. I will try preserve these two slanted tips, and keep the tips bare. I will try shape everything else to give the impression of clouds about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up, during best case scenario leaf coverage.

While Yggdrasil appears to be without gender, I would like a relatively feminine pot... thinking a shallow oval. Probably in white with some pale blue. I might have a lip and sturdy feet, to add some power to the presentation if it doesn't throw off the overall balance.
 

ShadyStump

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Whoa, thinking big already.
Just remember this; if your first tree dies, you're either not trying hard enough, or trying too hard. If it lives, you're not trying hard enough.
Or maybe just lucky.
The tree will help you decide where to go with time as it grows. My favorite part of bonsai is never knowing how it's going to turn out, but always knowing it will be wonderful.

If you want some movement in those branches, now when it's soft and young is a good time to wire it. Or actually spring when it wakes up and starts actively growing again, but still, wire when it's young.

Air layering isn't as complicated as it sounds, but different species take to it better than others. Depending on the branch, it's harder to cut too deep than many make it out to be. Anything more than a finger thick and two or three years old it shouldn't be a problem.
You have time to study before you get there on this tree.
 

Potawatomi13

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This tree WAY too young/undeveloped to even think of Bonsai pot. If tree survives that long then could use feminine pot as tree is deciduous, non rugged☺️.
 

DavidBoren

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Gotta think big... how else am I supposed to kill my first tree? Lol. But yes, it is going to live in that pot for a year or two, then a different pot half that size for another year or two... then bonsai pot. So, like, the spring of 2025.

I dabble in witchcraft, which offers a lot of symbolism related to trees. For instance, Ash's letter in the Druidic alphabet is "N", or Noin, from the Gaelic word for heaven [Noinon]. Aligning with Nordic cultures representstion of the world tree reaching into the heavens (and its roots into the underworld). The colors white and pale blue are associated with the Ash, probably due to its association with the sky across multiple cultures.

Ash's association with the sky, and need for sun, make it useful for solar magiks. Ash is also associated with both the Sun, and Neptune... if one needs further inspiration. Ash can similarly be used for healing magiks and to increase psychic awareness, and because of this Ash is associated with both turquoise and lepidolite... in case you are looking for rocks to throw in the pot with it.

There's all sorts of fun stuff related to pretty much everything nature has to offer, just gotta know where to look.

Eventually, I would like to have the entire Ogham alphabet represented in bonsai form. Again, think big.
 

ShadyStump

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Gotta think big... how else am I supposed to kill my first tree? Lol.
Right answer.
Not going to argue then.

Plenty of traditional East Asian symbolism used in bonsai already, and many western cultures practiced some sort of potted tree keeping dating back millennia, though mostly as topiary, so there's room for western symbolism too.

You might get your new tree in a fancy pot by '25, but it will only look so good. When we say years to get a decent tree, we often mean decades.
I recommend keeping a couple others to practice on in the mean time.
 

DavidBoren

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Let me back up a little, start with a little something about me... I am not a patient person. The spring of '25 or '26 already seems like an eternity. Lol.

You are all bearing witness to my experiment in this thing people call "patience". The long game...

I will certainly pick up some more trees to tinker with in the meantime, but I will probably wait until closer to spring.
 

Hack Yeah!

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Welcome to the site, if you have larger trees in your yard you may consider excavating one of those in the spring before they leaf out. Most bonsai are cut down, not grown up. Best of luck
 

El Triminator

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I'm not sure what kind of tree it is myself, but oh how I love Portland. Have you checked that massive used bookstore for any vintage bonsai books? Seems like a fun way to spend a cool day reading in a weird coffee shop to soak up some info. Keep it weird, because I hear Portland is changing, at times for the worse. Long live TDW. Best of luck and have fun!

Chris
 

ShadyStump

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Let me back up a little, start with a little something about me... I am not a patient person. The spring of '25 or '26 already seems like an eternity. Lol.

You are all bearing witness to my experiment in this thing people call "patience". The long game...

I will certainly pick up some more trees to tinker with in the meantime, but I will probably wait until closer to spring.
@Hack Yeah! makes a point. Read up, maybe some YouTube videos, on collecting yamadori. Once you've learned some about identifying trees, you'll be able to go find something that's closer to your intended goal right. Then you can spend the next 4 to 5 years refining it, not just waiting for it to look like something.
 
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