Collecting in Georgia

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Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:12 pm

It seems like soon as I have one question answered on here, another one pops up. I did a little bit of walking around today, to maybe find some trees to collect once the season is here. The more I got to looking, the more I realized that I didn't really know what I was looking for. What I noticed as of tree species was, sweetgums, red maples, maybe two or three different kinds of oak, and pine trees. So I guess my question is for anyone who might live in Georgia or close to Georgia. Which trees am I looking for? Which ones grow native around this area that are good bonsai material?

Oh yeah, I forgot about the Mimosas and the Wax Myrtles. I've never really seen any of these turned into bonsai, apart from the oaks.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  coh on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:26 pm

I'm not familiar with the typical plant species in your area. However, Albizia julibrissin, commonly known as mimosa in the U.S., can be used for bonsai...though I have to say, I haven't seen any in person (yet). Google "albizia bonsai" and you'll find some examples. Note that "mimosa" often refers to the tropical plants that are similar in appearance, but not as hardy.

Sweetgum also works, though it tends to be coarse from what I understand. Some examples have been posted on the forum (type "liquidambar" in the search bar) and you'll find others using google.

I've got one of each that I'm working with, but they're in the "pre-pre-pre bonsai" stage, with a long way to go. Both are from nursery stock and are being container grown.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:06 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. I guess it wouldn't hurt to give any of these trees a go, even if they don't turn out great, I could still learn something from it.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  hometeamrocker on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:27 pm

This year I have collected hornbeam and beech in Atlanta, with a plan to collect bald cypress this summer, maybe this weekend in Valdosta. My best hornbeam I thought I'd killed but I came home from a weekend out of town to find it sprouting buds over 2 months later!

Where in GA are you?

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:59 pm

I'm in Savannah. I'm pretty new to this, and honestly I never really paid too much attention to trees before I found an interest in bonsai...but do hornbeam and beech grow native here, or were they collected from a yard or something like that?

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  hometeamrocker on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:31 pm

I'm new too, bout in my 2nd or 3rd year. These trees grow native near streams, creeks or swamps as understory trees. You should have access to bald cypress down there too...

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:23 am

My dad was telling me that we could probably find some bald cypress. And I also know of some swampy areas around here. Thanks a lot man.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  hometeamrocker on Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:29 am

No sweat... I understand that the cypress are cool to collect this time of year down here, but wait til spring on the others...

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:35 pm

Beech and hornbeam are probably fairly rare near the coastline as neither like even a slight tang of salt in the air.

PLEASE take someone with you who has some experience and has collected a tree or two for bonsai. Otherwise you are almost guaranteed to kill everything you dig.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:16 pm

I'm fairly certain that between me and my Dad, we can handle not killing whatever we find. My dad is really good at growing pretty much anything, and me, even though I'm new to bonsai, I'm fairly good at researching and understanding things. So I don't doubt that we will be at least some what successful. Have a little faith in us Jim.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  FrankP999 on Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:37 pm

Mr Carter
You might want to read this from the New Orleans Bonsai Society about collecting baldies

http://www.gnobs.org/gnobs-articles-k2/item/15-collecting-giant-cypress-larger-faster-easier

That site has a couple of other articles on collecting cypress.

I live in Macon and am a member of the Atlanta Bonsai Society. We have monthly meetings with a visiting artist. You might want to check the schedule http://www.atlantabonsaisociety.com/events-calendar and make a weekend trip to Hot'lanta.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:50 pm

Hmmm. That doesn't sound too bad. I always have fun when I go to Atlanta. Thanks for the link too, I'll be sure to check it out.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:13 pm

Mr. Carter wrote:I'm fairly certain that between me and my Dad, we can handle not killing whatever we find. My dad is really good at growing pretty much anything, and me, even though I'm new to bonsai, I'm fairly good at researching and understanding things. So I don't doubt that we will be at least some what successful. Have a little faith in us Jim.

Don't get touchy. I've been doing this for almost 40 years now, and I've got a good idea what happens when an enthusiastic newcomer gets turned out into the unsuspecting wildlands with a shovel.

We'll see what we will see.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:35 pm

Yes we will see. I only have 6 months to get ready, given that the best time to collect would be after December. I know that faith is a hard thing to come by these days, but information is not. If you can and don't mind reading, and can comprehend what you read, then you really can learn just about anything now a days, via the Internet. This site is a perfect example of that. Now I don't expect to come busting out the gates as a master, but I'm definitely not going in blind either. Besides, I'm sure everyone has and will kill a tree or two in their career. If not, then how would you ever learn? And I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything like that. I have mountains of respect for every person on this site. Before I ever even made my first post, I read tons of articles, tons of posts and threads, tons of YOUR posts. So when I say have a little faith...I mean have faith in yourself. Because I've learned a lot from you, whether you realized it or not.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  coh on Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:55 pm

As a beginner myself (2 years in), I can say that one thing I've definitely learned - reading and doing are not the same. Removing an established tree from the ground is very traumatic for the tree, and you may encounter something - root structure, obstacles (rocks, other roots) - that you haven't prepared for. The suggestion to work with someone experienced with tree collection is a good one. If that's not possible, then I'd suggest doing a couple of "practice" collections before you attempt to dig that once-in-a-lifetime specimen.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:13 pm

Yeah I do understand that ideally, with every new thing that we wish to do, we should have a more experienced person guiding us through it. With that being said, it's not always an option. I do think it'd be a good idea, but I don't think that it's our only chance for success. There really are some things I've failed to mention, which might of made it sound like I've never done anything like this EVER...it might of even sounded like I've never even owned a plant in my life. But that's really not the case. My dads back yard is like a jungle, and a lot of the trees and plants come from collecting. Even though they weren't collected for bonsai purposes, I still would imagine a lot of the same principles apply. I've helped my dad with his yard since I was probably ten or eleven. It was more of a chore then but I still learned from it. I've helped him haul huge palm trees from construction sites to plant in his yard. So I think between his knowledge, and all the things that I've read, we should at least be okay.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:16 pm

And the practice thing really does make sense too. My outlook is that it's all practice. You gotta start somewhere.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  JimLewis on Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:28 pm

and you may encounter something -

Correction: You WILL encounter something . . . <g> (Unless you're digging out of someone's garden -- and even then . . .)

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:46 pm

Okay okay. I give up. Discouragement received.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  BonsaiJim on Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:54 pm

Lewis is the official bonsai newbie hazer! He's not an avid fan of collecting to begin with... just likes it cus its free and he's a C.O.B! Take him with a grain of salt- he's been around the block a few times and knows a few things about a few things.

All trees, including Bald Cypress are best collected just prior to breaking dormancy. NOT the summer unless that is the only time you have access... if so, use a sealant spray... but if it is that primo material I'd leave it for another day rather than risk killing it.

Sounds like your father is a potentially valuable resource. Bear in mind what you are (or should be) interested and what he may be skilled in collecting are potentially different. Younger specimens are far more forgiving than the tasty material you are interested in.

Your 6 months are best spent:

1. Preparing boxes, etc. for putting material in- you WILL be lacking a big enough container!
2. Scouting and tagging material,
3. Learning the idiosyncrasies about the materials you have selected
4. Using this knowledge, fertilize, making conservative cutbacks and root trims to encourage close-in growth.
5. Preparing any special over wintering needs- what will you do if there is an odd freeze?
6. Gathering soil materials
7. Hook up with other collectors in your area and pick their brains.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions- I'll help as much as I can.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:18 pm

Thanks man. I was thinking that Mr. Lewis had plans to make a trip down here to Georgia, and didn't want me stepping on his toes. Haha. I really do appreciate the information from everyone on here. Since I don't really have a bonsai master to teach me, I turn to you guys, in which my questions always get answered. My Dad used to do bonsai, before I was born, he's shown me pictures of all his old trees and they looked pretty good...then I came along and stole all his attention away from his hobby. I noticed recently that he had a few trees in bonsai pots, and he told me that he just now started to get back into it. It intrigued me, I became interested, and I figured "cool, now we have something in common". So yes he definitely is a valuable resource for me. The more I read about it, the more I realized that a lot of stuff has changed since he was doing it. So we are both learning and finally spending some time together too. I understand that I should prep trees for collecting by digging a ditch around it, filling with a good soil, fertilize, and prune it. Is there a rule of thumb about how deep to dig? Or do you know of a good article on the prepping process? I read one by Walter Pall, I think.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  BonsaiJim on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:53 pm

Best answer I can give you is "it depends"... Very Happy

Things like species, location, soil type, specific location, weather patterns for the last 2-3 years or even the last 2-3 months... all come into play.

We can get away with a lot in the tropical/subtropical regions we live in...

You should know the soil where these potensai are growing and how the roots are growing- are they short fibrous or are they long with only feeders at the end.... and will they regenerate readily- i.e., junipers and pines are not big fans so it becomes necessary to take every root you can when dormant and deal with them later...

Where you decide prep work will help...

Usually you want to dig a trench 1/4 to 1/2 way around, maybe 12-18" deep,and backfill with amended soil; this is repeated every year for a few years or until you have to dig it. Again, what and how you do it will depend on the above factors.

Something like a privet- I've pulled monster 12" trunks bare-root with a few feeders, let them sit in the sun for two days and had 100% survival. Oaks, you never know...

Research Dan Robinson's "papoose" method...


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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:04 pm

Alright thanks for the help and in sure I'll have another question sometime soon. It sounds like it'd be better if I were to find and identify the trees that I want to collect, and identify all the factors you mentioned first, then if I'm not sure how to go about prepping and collecting it, I could come on here and ask.

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  fiona on Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:20 am

Happy researching and good luck to you Mr Carter. Please let us see the fruits of your labours when they happen.


BonsaiJim, you give some very sound advice indeed which should really help Mr Carter on his digging quest. Maybe leave out the fatuous remarks about other members of this forum next time though, eh? Wink

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

Post  Mr. Carter on Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:35 am

Oh and one more thing...From what I've read, when you collect a tree, it is also a good idea to go ahead and get rid of all the growth that won't contribute to the design. So would that include a drastic trunk chop? I think that's what the article said, but I'd like to know, just to be sure that I read it right. Or would it be better to do a chop like that a year or two before I collect?

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Re: Collecting in Georgia

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