American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dan W. on Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:57 am

Arthur, do you mind if I copy your post for a club handout? Credited of course! Smile

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  JimLewis on Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:39 pm

The thing about caterpillars is that they are large and easily seen. Most are easily removed and relocated. (Some, like the tent caterpillar and the webworms are more difficult, but I've not had a bonsai problem with them.) Around here, the azalea caterpillar is a voracious feeder on bonsai.

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT for short) is the best and most specific solution for caterpillars as it is harmless to most other insects. (BT is the ingredient in those "mosquito dunks, so it is good for mosquito larva too.)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:06 pm

Thanks Jim,

but I won't hurt the one's I mentioned or practically any caterpillar, as they become beautiful butterflies.
Now the brown locust type grassphoppers is another situation.Ha ha.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Integrated Pest Management (part 4)

Post  Arthur Joura on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:22 pm

Thank you to Jim, Dave, Duncan, Khaimraj and Dan for your kind and supportive comments. Duncan - yes, the photographs I post here are ones I have taken. I do not have a great camera, but I enjoy using it. Khaimraj - having read a number of your posts, I am not surprised to hear that you protect caterpillars! You referenced a "congaree", which I take to be some kind of bird or animal, but when I tried to find out exactly what it is I could find nothing but references to some old river and swamp in South Carolina. Dan - you are welcome to reproduce what I have written here to share with your club, and I appreciate you recognizing the source. Thank you for asking.

As a way of closing out these thoughts on Integrated Pest Management, I want to share with you a situation that is currently unfolding in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden.

In the upper level of the garden, running along the northern end of the pavilion, we have planted 3 cultivated rhododendrons (Rododendron 'English Roseum'). Here is how they looked in bloom earlier this year:



Speaking generally, I would say these shrubs have done fairly well in their location over the course of the 8 years since they were planted. Some of the same variety were planted nearby in a much more sun-exposed area, and those have not done nearly as well in terms of their size and overall appearance. In nature rhododendrons are usually found growing in the understory, in sites that tend to be cooler and more moist, and although they can survive in a full sun location if given enough water, they prefer at least some shade.

A few weeks ago I noticed a little discoloration on the leaves of one of 3 more vigorous specimens:



Alerted by this, I inspected these rhododendrons more closely and discovered an unhappy telltale sign at the base of each one (in this picture a lower branch has already been removed from the plant, providing greater visibility than what would customarily be found):



The tan colored stuff on the ground around the base of the shrub is frass - refuse expelled by an insect tunneling its way through the wood of the plant. This is a clear indication of the presence of rhododendron borers. These creatures are the pupal form of a small moth that lays its eggs on the stems of rhododendrons. When the eggs hatch young larvae emerge and tunnel into the cambium layer, and from there they eat their way into the sapwood and eventually the pith of the plant. They overwinter there and spend some more time eating away unseen in the spring before emerging as adults in early summer. The adults do not eat anything and live for only a day or two, but they manage to mate in that time and then the females lay their eggs and the cycle begins anew. Cut open an affected branch and the damage done by the unseen pupae looks like this:



I do not have a photograph of the borer itself, although I have seen them. They look like a worm and are light yellow in color. I have seen pictures of the adult moths but have never seen them live, or if I did I did not recognize what I was looking at.

Rhododendron borers can do a lot of damage if there are enough of them eating out the insides of a given plant. They are a native species in the eastern US and have evolved alongside rhododendrons for however many millennia, so they are part of the natural ecosystem in our area. Simply put, they belong here. That does not mean people want them, though, so there is a prescribed chemical treatment for them - permethrim, found in products such as Bonide Borer/Miner Killer; Ferti-Lome Kill-A-Bug II; and Spectracide Eight, Vegetable Fruit & Flower Concentrate. Permethrim is considered by some people to be relatively safe for humans and is used in low concentration to kill head lice. Besides being toxic to a variety of bugs and insects, the chemical will also kill fish, reptiles and cats, and it lasts a long time in soil. The prescribed method of addressing rhododendron borers with permethrim is to thoroughly douse the woody parts of the plant in May and June, repeating the application 3 times at 10 to 14 day intervals. Permethrin is listed as a "restricted use" substance by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which also classifies it as a likely human carcinogen.

If for some crazy reason one is not inclined toward using the chemical approach, the prescribed response to the presence of borers is to cut off and destroy the affected parts of the plant. Some sources will advise taking a piece of wire and reaming out the tunnels you find in the affected branches and stems, but my experience with this is that it rarely yields verifiable results.

There are 2 other options I can think of if chemical controls are taken off the table: 1) Do nothing and see what happens; or, 2) Take out the affected plants and replace them with something else.

I think I will start with option 1 and then resort to option 2 if things go badly.

Here is my reasoning: I cannot eliminate all the rhododendron borers, no matter how much insecticide I spray. They are part of the ecosystem in which I live, so if I kill them this year there will likely be more to move in and replace them next year and the year after that. There are untold numbers of naturally occurring rhododendrons in the forest that surrounds the Arboretum and cultivated varieties planted elsewhere on the property, but the borers are attracted to the rhododendrons in my garden. Why? The literature says that borers often favor the faster growing varieties of rhododendron, and 'English Roseum' must be counted among that group. Additionally, although the northern side of the pavilion offers some degree of shade for the plants located there, they still receive a good deal of direct sunlight. The ground these particular rhododendrons are planted in is also strongly sloped, meaning moisture is likely to move out of there more quickly than it would on level ground. We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer, though, so I am inclined to think there must be adequate moisture for the plants... this year. Last year and several of the preceding were drought years, and the evidence of borer activity I am seeing now comes from creatures who began their lives last year. I also would not be surprised if there are some fertility issues with the soil in that location, although I cannot know that for certain without doing a soil test. So, I am inclined to think the borers are eating up these rhododendrons because the plants are somehow stressed. 'English Roseum' rhododendron might not be the right choice for this particular site, no matter how nice a plant it might be.

Here then is my plan: Keep monitoring the plants for overall health. Have a soil sample analyzed and determine if any supplemental fertilization or pH adjustment would be helpful. Begin research for possible alternative plants to use as replacements.

This example I am using concerns shrubs in a cultivated landscape. If I had a rhododendron borer problem with a bonsai, an azalea for example, my response might well be different. If it was a valuable specimen I would probably suit up and spray it, but I would also work to understand why that particular plant was attractive to the pest. It might just be a random occurrence, but it might also be an indication that the health of the plant was compromised, and if that was the case I would want to know so I could respond and do a better job of promoting the plant's health.

In the end, despite all the storm and fury about bonsai as an art form, and what is correct and incorrect as regards the styling of a bonsai, the health of the plant is the single most important concern.


Last edited by Arthur Joura on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  JudyB on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:37 pm

I appreciate your honesty in saying that if it were a valuable bonsai specimen, that your approach would be different. I too take a wide approach to my pest management. I do not use anything on the landscape/gardens/orchard that encompass my farm, but if it is a singular bonsai tree, then I do feel like it (pesticide) is a valuable tool to have in reserve.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:39 am

OOPs local name - congaree = Millipede
Khaimraj

http://www.diomedia.com/public/;jsessionid=4983C04EEBAA5214CD5AA852934C1727.worker1en/9926673/imageDetails.html

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  JimLewis on Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:29 pm

Arthur's post brings out another facet of pest management.  He noted that: "So, I am inclined to think the borers are eating up these rhododendrons because the plants are somehow stressed."

If you suddenly find an infestation of something or other on your bonsai, it may just be a wave of critters "passing through" but it also may -- and is likely to -- indicate there is something else wrong with the tree or trees.  This is another reason to practice "safe bonsai-ing" by keeping the area clean and free from detritus.

Thanks, again, Arthur.

And, because of the wet weather we've had this spring and summer, millipedes are EVERYWHERE. I bet there are three or four under each of my pots.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:01 pm

You have reminded me of the advantages of living in Zone 5. The hardier rhododendrons do just fine, and we never hear of rhododendron borers. We live in a 50s era ranch, and an 'English Roseum' came with it, under the picture window, facing west. Every few years I have to prune it drastically to keep it from growing over the window. Around here, you see rhododendrons planted against a wall that are 20 feet tall. I get very few insect pests on my bonsai outdoors. The tropicals indoors under lights in the winter are sometimes a problem.
But the emerald ash borer has just arrived in our county. I need to call Bartlett's (arborist company) to see what to do with our big green ash.
Iris

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Surinam Cherry

Post  Arthur Joura on Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:46 am

Judy, Kaimraj, Jim and Iris - thank you for your comments.

Turning away from the subject of pest management, I will take this opportunity to post some pictures of a bonsai that just today was put out on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden. This is the tallest tree in the NC Arboretum collection:



It is a Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora), also known as Pitanga, Brazilian Cherry or Cayenne Cherry. This species is native to the eastern coast of South America, but here in the US it is commonly planted in Florida as a hedge or screen. In Bermuda it has naturalized and is listed as an invasive species. The fruit is bright red and about the size of a cherry, and it is edible, but this is not a true cherry. The specimen in our collection was part of the original donation we received in 1992, and at that time it looked like this:



When I went to study with Yuji Yoshimura in January of 1995, I took along photographs of various Arboretum bonsai to show him and seek his advice. At that point I had worked the Surinam Cherry into this shape:



Mr. Yoshimura advised that I remove the smallest trunk altogether, and eliminate one or the other of the 2 lowest branches on the remaining trunks. His objection was to the fact that these branches were at the same height and created too much of a symmetric feeling in the structure of the tree's crown. I did not do these things automatically but spent some time thinking about it, and ultimately made both of the moves he recommended. This is what the tree looked like in 1999:



Somewhere in the early 2000's, a small shoot appeared from the ground just to the left of the tree's trunk. Always open to serendipity, I let it remain and develop and it eventually shaped up into a little tree, almost an accent to the existing tree. The shape of this specimen was always a bit awkward, as it was passing itself off as a twin trunk but in fact was a single trunk that forked into 2 trunks about 6 inches above ground level. The only way to "fix" an arrangement like this is with a saw and I never wanted to do that with this tree. When the third trunk appeared it seemed to me to create some kind of counterbalance in the design, and, accepting the unorthodoxy of it, I found it agreeable. Here is what the tree looked like out on display for the first time in the bonsai garden in 2008:



I do not think this particular specimen has ever found its true pot. I have always resorted to using whatever container I have that is large enough and kind of works. It was in the cream colored oval container for a number of years before I transplanted it into the current gray oval about a month ago, preferring that for its greater depth. The gray color is unobtrusive but also uninteresting. I think a container of the same depth but wider would also be better, but this one will have to do for now. Those large pots are not easy to find and cost a lot of money!

So, how tall is this Surinam Cherry? This picture will give you an idea:



That is my assistant, Joshua, standing next to the tree. He is over 6-foot tall.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  sayotefries on Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:59 am

Arthur Joura wrote:
One of the greatest dangers inherent in the use of chemical pesticides is that they are relatively cheap and easily available to anyone, regardless of the competence, intelligence or sanity of the buyer. These are highly lethal substances that can be purchased by anyone at the nearest big box hardware store. The safety of these chemicals depends on the applicator using them the correct way, and especially at the correct rate. Overuse of pesticides is commonplace and one of the pitfalls of this is that the targeted pests can and do over time build up resistance to the chemicals. Then it takes more and more pesticide to achieve ever decreasing results. Meanwhile, presence of the chemicals builds in the environment and begins to affect non-target life forms, sometimes including humans.
As a plant pathologist, what Arhur is talking about is called the "integrated pest management system". It is the control of insect pests and diseases in a more sustainable way for man and the environment. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences Arthur! Please keep posting. ThumbsUp 

sayotefries

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:21 pm

Arthur,

you will never know how much you have helped, with that image of the Surinam cherry [ I really don't like the taste ] . ,it's height and density.
Very often one is flying blind and trying to figure out optimum heights for local tropical trees, especially if it is something new [ as in no one has chimed in from the West Indies/ South America and beyond.]
I like to work at under 18 to 15 inches [ 46 to 39 cm ] as trees go, many of our trees need closer to 30" [ 76 cm ]

Sayotefries,

you are indeed a gem. On our side with the - get a job mentality - most folk in Agri anything have zero interest in green anything and that probably also goes onto house paint.
Hope to see more work from you.

Thanks guys.
Khaimraj

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  JADunnagan on Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:18 pm

Great article as always Arthur. Also, that is a very handsome assistant you have there.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Post  Arthur Joura on Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:23 am

Khaimraj - I tried some of the fruits from our Surinam Cherry and did not find them very palatable, either. I have heard the taste can vary quite a bit from individual plant to individual plant. As for your observation about the desirability of working at the large end of the size spectrum with some species, I think this is true and important. Many species of plants in our region do not lend themselves well to bonsai unless one uses them to create larger specimens. It also helps to not be so hung up on having tiny leaves!

JA - I assure you, this is a clear case of credit due to the photographer and not the model. However, I will pass along your comment to Joshua next time I see him.

sayotefries - Thank you for your comment, and especially for using the term "sustainability". I might have thought that with the mountain of verbiage I dumped on the subject of pest management I would have brought up the issue of sustainability at some point, but I managed not to. It is a critical concept for humankind going forward, not to mention for success in doing bonsai.

sayotefries' comments open the door for me to post some more wildlife pictures, and I gladly take the opportunity to do so. Especially in light of the fact that this past week at the NC Arboretum was literally crawling with critters.

First, an unwelcome guest copperhead was escorted out of the garden on Tuesday in a 5-gallon bucket with a tight lid:



The next day, another snake turned up, but this black racer is counted as one of the "good guys" and always welcome:



You might notice that this particular snake is not jet black, as his kind would normally be. That is because he is getting ready to shed his skin, which is most noticeable in the coloring of his eyes:



Snakes in this condition are anxious and easily agitated.

A few interesting bugs and insects turned up this week, as well. First a couple of undesirables:





I do not know what kind of caterpillars those are in the first image, but I have to admit they have style! The strikingly colored character in the second photograph is a saddle back caterpillar, and you do not want to find them the way I did today - that is, by brushing up against one. Each of those bristly hairs sticking up all over its body give a stinging sensation when they come in contact with your skin. The feeling is every bit as unpleasant as a bunch of bee stings.

The caterpillars were found in the hoop house and not in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, as was this unlikely looking creature:



This one is called, appropriately enough, a wheel bug. It is a beneficial because of its predatious nature, but it is also a personal favorite just because it is big and strange looking, like a robot monster from a 1950's movie.

And finally, another favorite, also large and odd looking but a very familiar friend:



This is the last thing seen by many a pest in the garden!

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  tmmason10 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:08 am

The saddleback caterpillar evolved to blend in to te environment by its back simulating a chewed leaf? Brilliant. Love your posts Arthur keep them coming.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Ashiod on Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:52 am

That black racer is really close to shedding. As you said, they're irritable when close to shedding, and tend to be more fearful and prone to striking because of their compromised vision. It looks like he's about ready to split around the snout and top of the head though, so he should be fine in a few days. If someone does have the misfortune of getting tagged by him, make sure to clean the cuts with a strong soap or alcohol, snakes can carry a wide variety of nasty things in their mouth.
We actually had the misfortune of hitting a large black rat snake a few days ago with a lawnmower. The poor guy came away from it totally unharmed except for a small nick on his head from the blade... I guess he was fortunate that it was a quick demise.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:30 am

Arthur Joura wrote:

This is the last thing seen by many a pest in the garden!
I saw one last night outside of Whole Foods. It flew right past us. Tiffany thought it was a bat but it was the welcomed sight of an 8 - 10 inch praying mantis.

Thanks for continuing this thread. Still can't wait for this years Expo and Peter Warren.

Have a great weekend!!!!
Sam

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Baldcypress From Seed

Post  Arthur Joura on Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:24 am

Tom, Ashiod, Sam - Thank you for your comments!

Sometime back in the early '90's, '93 or '94 I think, I collected a bunch of seeds from a Baldcypress tree (Taxodium distichum) growing in a garden nearby. This was a planted specimen, for although baldcypress is native to the eastern part of North Carolina and will grow well throughout the state, they do not naturally occur here in the mountains. I sowed these collected seeds in a garden bed that autumn and the next spring just about every one of them germinated, so I had a great many seedlings. They spent their first year in the ground and then were transplanted to individual quart-sized plastic containers. After growing them on a few years I started using them for workshops and demonstrations.

In the late '90's the Arboretum hosted our first visit from Qingquan "Brook" Zhao, the great Penjing artist from China, and he used some of these young baldcypresses to create a tray landscape for our collection. Here is a picture of that planting on display at the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, taken last November:



There was one of these many seedlings I selected early on for having a good base, with roots radiating outward all around. This plant was kept apart from the rest and grown from that point on with hopes of eventually making it an individual specimen. It spent all that time from then till now growing in a container, being shaped largely by means of the clip & grow method, although wiring was used on occasion. Here is what it looks like today, planted in a Robert Wallace container:



This is a modest tree, standing less than 2-feet tall and not at all dramatic. It is not likely to impress anyone, except perhaps people who have some experience growing baldcypress bonsai, because it is completely atypical to the way this species is usually handled.

Baldcypress has become a fairly popular bonsai subject in the eastern US, particularly in the south. The tree is common in costal regions and very collectable, grows well in container culture and can be pruned all day long, and although its growth habit is coarse, it is agreeable to being trained so long as the grower is not too rigid in his or her expectations. As a bonus, baldcypress are naturally inclined to produce great flaring bases. In light of these qualities, the following statements are generally true: 1) Most baldcypress bonsai are made of collected plant material; and, 2) Most baldcypress bonsai have straight trunks. Yes, there are exceptions. The specimen pictured above is one, having been grown from seed and exhibiting ample movement in its trunk, but I think what really sets it apart from most others of its kind is that it is not at all shaped like a baldcypress. I immediately have to qualify that statement. There are no shortage of baldcypress bonsai shaped like Christmas trees, and mature baldcypress in nature do not grow that way (although juvenile trees do). Baldcypress bonsai grown in that conical form look like they are mimicking mature spruce or hemlock trees.

Here is a nice, healthy, mature but not ancient specimen found in the Lumber River State Park in North Carolina:



Note the straight trunk, the flared base and the fact that it is not shaped like a Christmas tree. Note also that the tree is growing in standing water, which is something baldcypress often do, not because they want to or have to, but simply because they can.

Here is another specimen, growing in the Mobile River Basin in Alabama:



This tree exhibits the great character baldcypress are capable of attaining over the course of long life. This is a battle scarred old warrior, having survived hurricanes and floods, with huge chunks of its crown ripped out and regrown. Notice that the trunk, although leaning, is still straight. Notice the shape of the crown, wide and flat, formed without benefit of a central leader, branches angling in every direction.

Take another look at my seed-grown, clip & grow baldcypress bonsai:



I am not as familiar with baldcypress in nature as are my friends who live where these wonderful trees grow wild, but I have seen a respectable number of them over the years. There never was a baldcypress in nature that grew like the one I have styled, and I do not think there ever will be. It is no matter really, just a peculiarity. I was not thinking of the way baldcypress naturally grows when I shaped this specimen, but only the idea of "a tree". The end result is that the Arboretum has a baldcypress in its collection that is unlike any other baldcypress you are ever likely to see, in nature or a bonsai pot, with subtle movement and taper, and I can live easily enough with that.

One other out of that lot of seedlings is still in our possession. I do not know exactly how it managed to stick around, but it did, and being mostly neglected all the while. It wound up escaping its plastic pot, sending roots out of the drain holes and into the earth, which is probably what allowed it to survive and certainly what allowed it to grow to the size it has attainted. One day last year I finally took notice of it, sitting off in a corner growing like a weed. I cleaned it up and found this:



Not so bad for material grown from seed! Some day I will get around to working on it.


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:14 pm

Great piece Arthur. BC are one of my favorites and I can't wait to see those in the collection when I visit in October (CBE).

Thanks for all your sharing.

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'Natchez' Crape Myrtle

Post  Arthur Joura on Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:19 am

Thanks for your comment, Doug! The Carolina Bonsai Expo will be here before you know it...

One of the particular pleasures of my job is having the opportunity to travel around doing educational bonsai presentations to a variety of audiences, including many bonsai organizations. Last month I visited clubs in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, NC. Earlier this year I went to New Orleans, LA, Harrisburg, PA, Roanoke, VA, Wilmington, NC and Nashville, TN to spend time with bonsai friends in those cities. Later this year the road will carry me to Raleigh, NC and Columbia, SC. Each of these trips are special to me for the people I spend time with and the sights along the way and the good food to eat in each region, and I am thankful to be able to do this.

Last weekend I made such a trip, out to Norfolk on the eastern shore of Virginia, to do a couple of programs for my friends in the Virginia Bonsai Society. This very agreeable group of bonsai enthusiasts have the good fortune of an association with the Norfolk Botanical Garden, where they maintain a bonsai exhibit and have their monthly meetings. After doing a workshop on Saturday morning, a group of us walked around the gardens, checking out the bonsai display and then enjoying some of the many great specimen trees in the landscape. The Norfolk Botanical Garden was started back in the 1930's, so it is fairly well established. They have trees like these beautiful Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda):



I was told that such trees when found in a home landscape are sometimes referred to as "house splitters".

Here is an old Crabapple (Malus sp.), a cultivated form but the exact identity has been lost:



The gardens also feature quite a few nicely established Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia), including this specimen with my friend Steve Krall standing by it:



That particular tree is a Natchez Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica X fauriei 'Natchez'). One of the great attractions of this species is the colorful exfoliating bark:



I took particular interest in this tree for a couple of reasons. First, one of the "parent" trees of the Natchez hybrid, and many other Crape Myrtle hybrids, is Japanese Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia fauriei). This plant was introduced to western horticulture in the 1950's, and an extensive breeding program was instituted at the US National Arboretum wherein Lagerstroemia fauriei was crossed with the common Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) in an effort to produce superior crape myrtles for landscape use, particularly ones that would be resistant to powdery mildew. The great plant breeder Dr. Donald Egolf did this work, but the man who had the idea, collected and brought back the Japanese Crape Myrtle seeds and promoted the hybridization project was my old friend, Dr. John Creech.

My other interest in Natchez Crape Myrtle was related to the fact that we have one in the NC Arboretum bonsai collection:



This bonsai was donated to us in 2009 by the late Howard Kazan, an expert bonsai grower from North Carolina. This is what it looked like back when we first received it:



As you can see, other than changing the container and tilting the tree slightly to the right, this specimen is largely the same today as when it was given to us. The one bit of restructuring that I want to achieve, and have been working on for several years now, is to develop the top of the tree away from its the standard central leader design. Although a great many bonsai are styled with a dominant central leader, it is not the way most trees in nature are formed, and particularly not deciduous trees. This is a well developed specimen, however, and not bad to look at. Rather than directly cutting out the top of the tree and then not being able to show it for however many years it might take to build a new crown, I am trying to overhaul it piecemeal over the course of a long time, maintaining its displayable appearance all the while.

Here is an image from earlier this year, when the leaves were first emerging:



Mr. Kazan did a fine job of creating this crape myrtle bonsai, I think. They are not the easiest plant material to develop. One problem to which they seem to be prone is dying back from large pruning cuts, and such is the case with this one:



This feature is located in the back of the plant as it has been designed, so it is usually not seen. Mr. Kazan never promoted flowers on this bonsai, and I have chosen to follow his example with it. To have flowers would require allowing the plant to grow out of its form, and is not worth that trouble, in my opinion. There are other features to enjoy on a crape myrtle, such as the bark. The autumn color is not too bad, either:



That photograph was taken last autumn. The Natchez Crape Myrtle has not yet begun to change color this year, but one of our bonsai has:



You will recognize this specimen as being the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) I wrote about in a previous post. It is always the earliest of our bonsai to begin its autumn coloration.

As long as I am giving updates, I should show you what our Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is up to:



For the time being, this tree is the most talked about bonsai on display in the garden. Next to bonsai with flowers, bonsai with showy fruits are the public's favorite:



The birds and squirrels have not yet found this bounty, but I expect they will.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Auballagh on Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:49 am

Thanks very much Arthur, for the shout out!  It was awesome to host you again this year in Norfolk, Virginia for a visit and your insight, humor and knowledge were - once again - enormously appreciated by myself and the membership of the Virginia Bonsai Society.  Our membership committee seem quite excited to represent the VBS, and bring a display for this year's Expo at the North Carolina Arboretum.
Plus, I personally thank you so much for the advice, wisdom and the wonderful critique you provided to our own, quite humble, public Bonsai and Penjing Display at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  I am still considering taking the stage and microphone with my own Bonsai thread post of Curator-specific experiences and information....  but for now, since I'm a big chicken I guess at heart, so I'll stay off of it a bit longer and just jump around a while longer in the Discussion and Question (Mosh Pit) areas of the Forum. Laughing 
Sincerely,
Bill McReynolds
Bonsai and Penjing Display Curator
Virginia Bonsai Society

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Auballagh
Member


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Stephen Krall on Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:30 pm

My Dear Friend,

It was good to see you last weekend. You always inspire me and the other of the Virginia Bonsai society when you come to visit. Sadly I will miss the Expo this year. It is one of the highlights of my year, but sometimes life just presents you with obstacles that require more attention before returning to normal. Ashville through my eyes is a land of beauty and I have always had a fondness for the mountains and enjoy them much more than my current location. While I was getting my degree in photography oh so  many years ago in Bristol Virginia I had easy access to the Appalachian mountain chain which was the focus of much of my subject matter. I did my internship in Highlands, North Carolina and enjoyed that immensely. But some how I ended up in eastern Virginia and have lived here on and off for the last 30 plus years. So I will have to wait another year to visit the beauty of the country in your area, but I am looking forward to once again being in the presence of your friendship and the ever lovely Appalachian mountains in western North Carolina.

I have read this post from front to back and I am  thrilled to see that you have touched on some species that I enjoy and are not as readily used in bonsai compared to all the "Japanese species".  Two species that I am trying to get people more involved in, one of which you have already touched on, are the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) and the Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana). For some time I believed that the Red maple would make good bonsai material, but like you I ran into many "nay-sayers" with all sort of excuses as to why the plant material could not be used as bonsai mostly pertaining to leaf reduction issues.....etc...etc. Sometimes I felt that the comments were more geared to the fact that it wasn't good material because it was not a Japanese maple more than any real reason. Then one day I had the good fortune of meeting you, someone with some real creditability, to qualify my belief that the Acer rubrum was in fact good bonsai material and you had bonsai to back it up. In fact I am the proud owner of one of your pieces and it is doing quite well with leaves ranging from 1.5 inches and smaller. If that size leaf is not good enough for some people then all I can say is you are missing out on wonderful material.

The other species, Virginia pine, is one that I believe also makes a very good bonsai. I am currently working with species in pot culture and with collected material that is currently in the ground being grown out. The chief complaints I have heard about his species that is that the needles twist in its growth habit and some how, at some point, someone decided that this was a bad thing. I myself find it to be an interesting characteristic of the material and see it as a bonus. To me it has similar growth habits of the Ponderosa pine in its leggy-ness, but with the benefit of shorter needles. So my hope is to continue to work with it and get others in my area look at this native species as good bonsai material and another option to the Japanese pine species for bonsai.

Well so not to be accused of high jacking your thread I will get off now. I look forward to your future post.

Take care my friend,
Steve

Stephen Krall
Member


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Podocarpus (2013 Carolina Bonsai Expo logo tree)

Post  Arthur Joura on Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:20 am

Bill and Steve, thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts and kind comments. There are responses to points made by both of you that I would like to make, and hopefully someday will, but right now all my attention is riveted on preparations for the upcoming 2013 Carolina Bonsai Expo! What I will post today relates directly to that, as you will see.

By now the sad news surrounding the health of Peter Adams is well known in bonsai circles. What is less known, except to people belonging to the clubs that participate in the Expo, is that Peter was scheduled to be our guest artist this year.

He was the guest artist at the 2nd Expo, back in 1997:



Peter was back in 2008 for the 13th Expo:



I was very much looking forward to having Peter back again, and his 3rd appearance as Expo guest artist would have been unprecedented. I was going to introduce him as "3-peter Adams", knowing that he would have some wickedly clever rejoinder to that! He was a wonderful guest artist because his sharp sense of humor, along with his abundant talent and professionalism, made him shine any time you put him in front of an audience. I join all the other people in bonsai who send their best thoughts and prayers out to Peter and his wife Kate, hoping for him to make a recovery.

When Peter was here in '08 we had him work on a large Podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophylla) from the Arboretum's collection as his demonstration tree. The pictures that follow are the only ones I have of that program, and they are unfortunately of low resolution:

 

In the first image you can see him holding up a drawing he made of what he envisioned as the outcome of his redesign. The work involved a fair amount of carving done with a die-grinder, which is shown in the second photograph. Peter had insisted on setting himself up in the very middle of the room with the audience sitting close up all around him, and I half think he wanted that so he could shower everybody in the first few rows with the chips and sawdust from his carving work. Fortunately no one from OSHA was in the audience. Also note in that second image the gigantic, almost perfectly round scar on the back side of the Podocarpus. The third image shows him doing some wiring, which, because he is a seasoned pro who knows how to hold an audience, he kept to a minimum.

What follows is a brief history in pictures of the Podocarpus Peter worked on that night. The tree was given to us in 1995 by Duane Clayburn, who had been a professional grower in Tallahassee, FL before relocating to western NC and volunteering for many years at the Arboretum. He had collected it from the landscape of a penitentiary in Florida, where it had grown for 50 years as part of a hedge planting. The hedge was being removed and Duane recognized that the plant material would be potentially useful for bonsai, so he asked for some and was given it. If I remember correctly, this happened in the late 1970's or early 80's. Duane had Dan Barton work on it early on, and then Ben Oki a few years later. When it came to us it looked like this:



I cleaned it up and grew it on, keeping pretty much to the design it had when I first encountered it. In July of 2008 it looked like this:



This Podocarpus was a worthwhile specimen mostly for its size and age. Design-wise, it had some considerable problems. It had that previously mentioned big circular scar on the backside where a major limb had been removed, and where other limbs had come off in the front and on the right side there were stubs left as deadwood, but they were ungainly looking and very obviously carved. Probably the biggest problem with the structure of the tree was that the 3 trunks were perfectly in a line, like soldiers. I looked at these problems for years and thought of how to address them, but every solution required drastic measures and I never felt all that certain about the outcome being worth the price of finding out.

Out of respect for Peter Adams' experience and artistic talents, I offered it to him as his demonstration tree. He came up with 3 possible design options, and showed me drawings he made of each of them, giving me the choice of which way he should go. I chose the most dramatic option, and that is what Peter executed in his demonstration in October of '08. This picture was made a month later:



There is a finite amount of time in a demonstration program, and only so much can be done (or should be done). Peter had taken the big step and set the Podocarpus on its new course, but there was a way to go to make the tree presentable in its new design. I felt comfortable taking up the work where Peter had left off. Here is the tree after an intensive follow-up session in early 2010:



By March the next year I felt good enough about the tree's development to put it in the Southern Spring Show in Charlotte, NC:



And here it is back out on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden in the summer of last year:



Every year as part of the Carolina Bonsai Expo, a tree from our collection is chosen to be the "logo tree", and an image is made of it to be used for promotional purposes. Because Peter Adams was scheduled to be back, the bonsai I chose for this year's logo tree was the Podocarpus he worked on the last time he was here, 5 years ago. I was looking forward to getting his review of it. Hopefully I still will someday.

Anyway, I just finished this late last night:



Thinking of you, Peter...

Arthur Joura
Member


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Sat Sep 21, 2013 4:20 pm

Well done Arthur. Thank you.

DougB
Member


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Early Autumn

Post  Arthur Joura on Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Doug - Thank you for reading and commenting!

With the 18th annual Carolina Bonsai Expo a mere 2 weeks away, I am spending a debilitating amount of time sitting at my desk, staring at a screen and clacking on a keyboard. Every now and again I venture out to make sure the bonsai are still there. On these forays out of doors and into the garden I am also taking note of the progression of seasonal change, in the overall landscape and among the bonsai specimens. Naturally, some advanced state of autumn leaf coloration for the Expo weekend is a desirable thing, but completely out of my hands.

These photographs were made at various times over the last week:





























I relate to this time of year now, because I think it correlates metaphorically to the time of life I currently occupy. Summer is gone, there is no doubt about that! Winter's chill is still a little ways off, but the physical indications of change are everywhere to be seen and felt.

Arthur Joura
Member


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  bingregory on Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:31 am

Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing.  Is the bare tree trunk in the second to last photo of real wood or is it sculpture? I couldn't quite tell if it was just placed between the two shohin for effect or whether it was holding them up. Lovely either way.

bingregory
Member


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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