Little John's 1st birthday

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Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:10 am

I am always on the look out around my local area for trees with potential to become bonsai and had often admired a neighbours Callistemon 'Little John'. Mid 2011 I saw her attacking this tree chopping huge chunks off so went & asked if she was planning to remove it "No just trying to get rid of the webbing caterpillars, this tree always gets filled with them", my reply "I would happily take it off your hands it has a beautiful trunk"... so the deal was done & we agreed it should stay put until it had recovered & also for a better season than midwinter.

I ended up digging this mid summer 26th Jan 2012 (Australia Day for the locals), we had had a cool wet summer so the ground was soft and as I dug I discovered a fair bit more trunk & the roots way down in the clay. I cut them long & carted it home to find I didnt have anything big enough so hacked & chopped at the big roots until it fit a 50cm plastic pot. Into an area which got a little screening from overhead trees, water & wait.

I didnt have to wait long, 4weeks later roots had started pushing out the drain holes.

With only 20cm of soil in the pot by july the tree was showing signs of stress from being rootbound so repot I did. The new pot has plenty of room to grow on & will probably take this right thru to finished, with a regular repot along the way. This variety seems to have really vigourous roots and an 2" airlayer rooted in 6wks, 6wks later it had filled a standard 20cm pot!

It powered away after the repot & flowered well in september giving me a glimpse of how this tree could look when grown out, the blueish foliage contrasting well with the short bright red bottles carried in the same plane as the growth. I didn't manage to get a good pic at that time so none to show but soon after I set to work & layered one branch to see how it did, as per above it boomed & is already on its way to being something special.

This is how he looks on his 1st birthday, come so far but the journey has only just begun. I have 2-3 more layers to set , which I will do soon, once they are done its just a matter of time to fill out. I am aiming for a very classical image with this tree, wide low spreading first branch with tight layers rising above on the main trunk.

Questions, comment or critique always welcomed.
Matt

Ps: forgot to mention, the mai trunk stands approx 90cm with about 15cm to be removed & then an apex grown it will probably end up around the same mark.


Last edited by MattA on Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Post script)

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Todd Ellis on Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:35 am

I like the leaves of this species. Nice looking tree; fabulous pot!
Todd

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  MrFancyPlants on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:15 am

Looking good! Nice work keeping it healthy and I like the pot combo.

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:49 pm

good find i wish my neighbors had trees like that they would give up so easily

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Twisted Trees on Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:05 pm

andre_f wrote:good find i wish my neighbors had trees like that they would give up so easily
You only have to ask. I once found a wonderful Larch growing on a thruway exit ramp. I asked the New York State Transportation Regional Director for permission to collect and it was granted.

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:46 pm

Thanks all Very Happy

Its amazing what you get when you ask, most of my collection are of similar origins with only a small number grown from seed, nursery stock or true yamadori. At the moment I am in the process of removing an entire garden of trees & shrubs including 2 hedges of 40yr old azalea, all because I went & knocked on the guys door. I saw works being done & asked if any trees were being removed, 1 would of been nice, so far I have 15 & a few more than that still to dig Dance

The pot came from my mentor and is perfect imo, it has a landscape carved into the other side but I prefer the script even tho I dont know what it says. If anyone can help with a translation I would be very appreciative.

This hybrid needs constant grooming for tip dieback during the growing season otherwise growth gets congested with it, reducing light & air flow around the branchlets increasing the risk of other problems scale, mite etc

The other big enemy of all bottlebrush here in its native environment is the webbing caterpillar, if left unchecked they can quickly turn a branch into fairyfloss. Its not real clear but the caterpillar is top middle (red arrow) & his nest to the left of him (pink arrow). Thats 1 nights work & his last...

If you want a bonsai that requires daily hands on work this is the one for you, at the moment its only a minute or 2 every day but what will it be when fully fleshed out?...

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Nick K on Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:57 am

Matt,
I too have a problem with these caterpillars on calistemons. I go through them and pick off by hand. Check leaf under sides for eggs to. Have you tried spraying with confidor or similar?
Regards,
Nick

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:28 am

Nick, I try to have a chemical free garden & prefer checking the tree over daily & removing any young or eggs I find. It works in well as I check over & remove any tips that have died out, old leaves etc. I usually spot a batch of eggs before they hatch but the odd one gets thru.

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:43 pm

Progressing slowly but happy to see a decent show of bloom this year.

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  yamasuri on Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:51 am

Very strong potential looks nice and healthy. Congrats on developing

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Precarious on Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:02 pm

Strong work!

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:51 pm

beautiful when in bloom, as well as when not...
good find...

knowing how prevalent the roots can get, are you concerned with getting it out from under the lip of the pot
when its time to re-pot, or will you just be cutting through those, knowing it will grow more ?

when i first started, i knocked on a guys door and offered a replacement shrub for a small tree in the corner of his lot,
that was continually cut back over the years simply to keep it in check...
he thunk i was nuts, but agreed...

upon closer examination i decided to pass for the sake of the tree,
knowing it was beyond my abilities to safely collect it...

it is still there and i drive by it regularly

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Re: Little John's 1st birthday

Post  Guest on Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:45 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

Kevin, I don't plan on repotting till it is busting out of the pot & then yep you guessed it, butcher them!
As for being nuts, it is not only nonbonsai folk who thunk it of me Wink

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