Sunday, 29 November 2009

Cotoneaster bonsai progression

I collected this stocky little Cotoneaster horizontalis as a stump from the bungalow my wife's parents were converting. It may be more than 60 years old, it is very unusual to see cotoneaster bonsai with trunks of this girth. Cotoneaster horizontalis is an excellent subject for bonsai, it has small leaves, pretty pink flowers in spring, wonderful deep purple autumn leaves, tiny bright red fruit, very fine branching and it grows very vigorously.

This first image is a before and after shot from the trees first major styling.

Here is a virtual of the tree in a new pot (modified from a photograph of a lovely pot from Stone Monkey Ceramics... I will probably commission a similar pot).

This first image bellow was taken in January 2008, a few weeks after it was collected, I don't recommend digging up trees or shrubs in December in the UK but it had to be removed to make space for construction work and this was my only opportunity. Being unprepared to have collected this material it sat for some time in heavy garden soil. I was nervous to disturb the roots again so soon after its stressful collection but Walter Pall, one of Europe finest bonsai masters, was kind enough to give me the following advice: I would take the tree out of the wrong soil, shake the soil off and help a bit with a stick. I would not wash it off. Then I would plant it into a rather small container with well draining modern substrate. Now! Walter; thanks to your advice it survived.

Some gardeners say that a well established cotoneaster will not tolerate transplanting, what nonsense.

This is only nine months later (September 2008). It took a while to throw out the first few shoots but once I knew it had recovered from the shock of transplanting I started to fertilise regularly... resulting in really vigorous growth.

This is after its (very rough) first styling (November 2008), it was repotted at this new angle in spring 2009. One would not normally work on collected material so soon but I was encouraged to do so by its obvious vigor. The branches are left long to thicken as new leaders.

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