Year 3 kickoff and pics of my garden

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I realized today that this begins year three of my Bonsai hobby - I picked up my first little Juniper back in September of 2017 and I'm moving into my 2nd Fall and 3rd winter. I picked up a new phone with a stellar camera yesterday and I was out trying it out and I figured I'd do a little writeup of my experiences with Bonsai thus far.

My main source of information on Bonsai up until this year has been the internet. I started lurking around the Reddit forums and then found my way to Bonsai Nut as this website typically is what Google links to when you search Bonsai topics. Before that, I have zero horticultural experience outside of running a small hydroponic cannabis operation out of my garage - personal use - though those days are behind me now (To quote Kat Williams "If you ain't smoking weed because you got a good job, then make your paper boo boo"). I fell down the rabbit hole though, and realized that I love taking care of tiny trees in pots.

We had purchased our house in December of 2016 and just let the yard ride for that year. Our back yard is full sun all day. We also had some...unique outbuildings. I admit to being lazy that first year as I was in the middle of job transitioning and the "Jesus Club" stayed an eyesore for most of 2017. In true Tennessee fashion, someone had turned a chicken coop into a playhouse. Here is the only photo that still exists of it, right before I re-purposed it. It also had a slide and motivational Jesus graffiti all over.

pbGiD7N.jpg

After some judicious cleanup and paint, I had the beginnings of a nice potting shed. I re purposed a lot of the wood for janky bonsai benches, and spent a little extra money to actually build a nicer bench to go beside it. This is before I realized this bench would be in the North facing shade. (Remember, nada horticultural experience)

oBjgLtB.jpg

My wife likes to do things together but she has zero interest in Bonsai other than it makes me happy, so around this same time she began her own gardening plot. She also likes to do yoga on the back porch and we can't afford to put up a privacy fence, so we opted to begin a garden that in a few years will block some of the worst sight lines around our back yard.

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October of that same year, I joined a club down in Chattanooga and acquired some more material. However, the personality of the club wasn't a great fit for me and I only attended a few meetings and one Xmas party. In the meantime, I built some more benches using the recycled Jesus club wood and that brings us into the early Spring/Summer of 2018. By this time I had hooked up with the Nashville club and it was a much better fit and I started attending regular monthly meetings

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During this time I read every book I could find, I researched native species, wandered around in the woods looking for yamadori, purchased some Bonsai Empire courses, and really got involved in posting on Bonsai Nut. I also learned some lessons. My wiring was terrible, I shouldn't be giving other newbies advice, and Bonsai is way, way deeper and more personal than just repeating things I have seen other people say. I also learned that internet information is nothing compared to having someone more experienced who can actually get hands on with you and the trees.

Since my yard is full sun, I realized that I needed somewhere to get some afternoon shade and noticed the front of my potting shed stays pretty shaded in the second half of the day, so I put up some shelves there and moved some things around.

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By this time, I had built myself another bench for the back porch and things continued pretty smoothly in 2018. I had no idea what to do with most of these trees and found myself often paralyzed from doing anything due to not wanting to make mistakes. Most of my stuff just grew out wild. I am coming to terms now with the fact I have very few Bonsai and I have a whole lot of coarsely grown little trees and sticks in pots. The hesitation to do work or make mistakes is still something I am trying to get over today and I'm making progress. I've done way more pruning and wiring in 2019 than I did in 2018 and I think my collection is improving because of it.

Here is my back porch rolling into late summer of 2018.

IMG_20180722_155412.jpg
 
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After a successful 2nd winter rolling into 2019, I decided to expand my space again. My purpose was to build an area where I could put up shade cloth and possible ground grow some trees. I have since learned that ground growing areas need WAY more space than I was giving myself, though the area would turn out to be another nice place for a bench. This is still moving into spring and most of my stuff is still in the winter bed.

IMG_20190316_151427.jpg

By the time summer rolled around I had spent way too much money buying way too many new trees. Its like a damn addiction. My wife began getting anooyed that she no longer had a patio table. Thats when I decided to get serious on the shade area and moved some benches around to free up back porch space.

IMG_20180926_175214.jpg

The summer of 2019 has rolled by nicely and I feel like my skills are coming along. I'm getting a good feel for my microclimate and my trees. I will be sitting down once I put them all up for winter and writing out a full plan for 2020, being mindful of the growth habits and challenges I have seen the last couple of growing seasons. I have my watering practice dialed in, I have my fungal and insect regimens in place, and I am developing a much better eye for noticing changes and small issues in my trees. I think I am finally figuring out what people mean when they say to listen to what your trees are telling you. Some points of pride this year are that I have learned to identify the fungal issues I see here and have applied techniques that I have seen positive results from my interventions. I have attended several workshops and plan to attend several more. I defeated an outbreak of spider mites without losing a tree. I'm also now the editor of the Nashville club's newsletter. I'm excited to see my Fall colors and what the next growing season will bring!

Here are some shots from this morning:

The Back Porch bench in full sun:

IMG_20190929_090947.jpg

Our garden went off like gangbusters this year!

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My potting shed, shade benches, and grow area.

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All in all, not bad for a couple years, although I'm sort of worried about how big this whole operation is going to get, because I am nowhere near done with building, collecting, or learning....
 
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sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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worried about how big this whole operation is going to get, b
Keep a good burn pile....

Stack rank

Only keep the most righteous!

Though I'd love to see the coop contain hens again....
It all looks great!

Sorce
 

Tieball

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It was a fun trip to read through your development. I believe that you enjoy the building, organizing, rebuilding and space-planning stages the most. You’re well organized. You’ve done well.....Mighty fine!
 

Paulpash

Omono
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Once you get the grow beds sorted and you can rotate things in and out you'll have a steady stream of quality stock to work with. Looks like you've got a good setup forming and an increasing awareness of your garden. Looks good for the future!
 

Sansui

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After a successful 2nd winter rolling into 2019, I decided to expand my space again. My purpose was to build an area where I could put up shade cloth and possible ground grow some trees. I have since learned that ground growing areas need WAY more space than I was giving myself, though the area would turn out to be another nice place for a bench. This is still moving into spring and most of my stuff is still in the winter bed.

View attachment 264668

By the time summer rolled around I had spent way too much money buying way too many new trees. Its like a damn addiction. My wife began getting anooyed that she no longer had a patio table. Thats when I decided to get serious on the shade area and moved some benches around to free up back porch space.

View attachment 264667

The summer of 2019 has rolled by nicely and I feel like my skills are coming along. I'm getting a good feel for my microclimate and my trees. I will be sitting down once I put them all up for winter and writing out a full plan for 2020, being mindful of the growth habits and challenges I have seen the last couple of growing seasons. I have my watering practice dialed in, I have my fungal and insect regimens in place, and I am developing a much better eye for noticing changes and small issues in my trees. I think I am finally figuring out what people mean when they say to listen to what your trees are telling you. Some points of pride this year are that I have learned to identify the fungal issues I see here and have applied techniques that I have seen positive results from my interventions. I have attended several workshops and plan to attend several more. I defeated an outbreak of spider mites without losing a tree. I'm also now the editor of the Nashville club's newsletter. I'm excited to see my Fall colors and what the next growing season will bring!

Here are some shots from this morning:

The Back Porch bench in full sun:

View attachment 264671

Our garden went off like gangbusters this year!

View attachment 264670

My potting shed, shade benches, and grow area.

View attachment 264669


All in all, not bad for a couple years, although I'm sort of worried about how big this whole operation is going to get, because I am nowhere near done with building, collecting, or learning....
Do you also have an interest in dwarf conifers? The fever does not stop with bonsai! https://conifersociety.org/
 

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