slate slabs

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slate slabs

Post  JimLewis on Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:26 pm

My son teaches in an old school in Durham, NC. One of the oldest buildings -- 100+ years -- recently got a new roof. The old roof was slate. He brought me half a dozen of the old roofing slates. They measure abut 20" by 12" by 1/3". He has another dozen at his house. After they're cleaned of 100* years of accumulated city grime (including who knows what hazardous materials) they're quite attractive.

They're also thin enough to be cut into smaller slabs for my smaller trees.

But I have this windswept raft Trident maple that is now in a shallow pot, and I though it might look good on one of these. I solicit opinions.

Picture 1 is the potted tree sitting on one of the slabs. Do you think it'll look OK on the slab? Should the slab be cut down to abut the size of the current pot?



Pic 2 is a snapshot to show the thickness of the slabs -- just FYI.





Pic 3 is a reminder of the tree in its preferred winter dress:


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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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Slate Slabs

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:31 pm

I have grown on slabs. The problem is the thin soil layer dries out very quickly. I suspect a moisture loving maple might not do well, unless you water two or three times a day in midsummer. The arrangement would be better for a tree that withstands severe drying between waterings, like a Ficus or juniper.
Iris

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Re: slate slabs

Post  Todd Ellis on Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:58 am

Hi Jim,
For display, I would cut the slab to mimic the contours of the pot; perhaps wider than the pot by a couple of inches.
Sweet tree!
Best, Todd

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Re: slate slabs

Post  RKatzin on Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:58 am

Hi Jim, I do grow alot of maples on slabs, several varieties, but mostly Japanese Maples and our local Vine Maple. I use a soil mix high in organic matter to help with the watering. In the heat of summer it's a two drink minimum, but the rest of the time once a day is normal. A two inch perimeter wall of muck or thick moss and build up to about three inches under the base of the tree. Your slate looks a bit thin, slate is not the most stable rock, it's quite fractious. You could probably break it across your knee, well, maybe not your knee or mine (once was a time...). What you could do is layer the slate in three concentrically smaller pieces dropping back an inch or so each layer so the thickest part of the stack is under the base of the tree. It really only becomes an issue when you need to pick it up and move it. In my tile setting experience, slate was always a big pain in the butt, always falling apart and flaking, real soft stuff. It's a bit more stable in 3/8 or 1/2 inch thickness. Most of my pieces are marble or travertine that I get from folks that make countertops, but I did find some nice thick 16x24 slate tiles. In four I found one that didn't break up, but I still don't trust it with a load on it. I slide a thin board under it when I need to move it.

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Re: slate slabs

Post  sunip on Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:27 am

Hi Jim.
Those roof slabs are beautiful to display a bonsai pot on top of it.
But a bit difficult indeed to plant a tree on it as RKatzin mentioned.
I would feel sorry to cut them in smaller pieces as you loose a lot of their charm.
Are you sure the patine of a hundred years is not attractive?
Regards, Sunip Wink

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Re: slate slabs

Post  JimLewis on Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:03 pm

Thanks, all. These are thin, but seem to be pretty strong and not brittle. Luckily all of my trees are pretty small (this plating is only 12-inches wide, for instance) so there's not a LOT of weight.

Are you sure the patine of a hundred years is not attractive?

The building it came from is in Durham, NC. Old brick with the slate roofs. Most likely it was used for the first 50 years of its life as a tobacco processing or storage area. The patina is most likely concentrated nicotine dust, asbestos and coal soot, and other assorted urban pollutants. Not what I want my trees growing on, so I scrub. It's still pretty when I'm done.

Today, I slip an old blade on my hand saw, put on some gloves, goggles and a respirator, and cut one. It may splinter. (They already have old nail holes drilled through them in spots, so I can wire the trees into place easily.)

_________________
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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Re: slate slabs

Post  ogie on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:23 pm

Nice slabs Jim..I'm a sucker for old things..loving it
Oh by the waynice tree there Smile
Regards,
Alex

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Re: slate slabs

Post  JimLewis on Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:18 pm

I've spent the morning cleaning up, shaping and cutting (a couple) of the slabs. It's a bit late to do any drastic repotting now so I'll let these sit on my back deck with all the other tiles and rocks, and odds and ends that I think might make or go into a bonsai pot some day. I'll let the hot summer sun and summer thundershowers finish the cleaning job while I think over what I want to do.


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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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Re: slate slabs

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