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Yamadori collectors, Non-bonsai tools, Bonsai Blogs
February 19, 2018

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Professional Yamadori Collectors

I've never met Steve and Dan from Backcountry Bonsai I only know them through their website, but I have great respect for them.

Art and Adventure
Collecting Rocky Mountain Yamadori

In their own words: "Two friends, a couple of dogs, and the great Rocky Mountains a few steps from their back porch. Back Country Bonsai was Founded in 2012 by Bonsai enthusiasts Dan Wiederrecht & Steve Varland. Back Country Bonsai strives to collect and share highly sought after trees for Hobbyists and Artisans, while maintaining the beauty and respect for Nature that inspired the art of Bonsai."

Their attitude toward collecting is not go get as many as you can, and see what survives! I knew they were for real, when I saw the way the roots on this juniper are protected!

Although their amazing trees would never grow in my climate, I signed up for Dan's blog.

"My hope is that the trees I collect will live on for decades, even centuries, calling people to a deeper connection with Nature. Nature is where my soul is revived. Nature is home. We don’t have to be at odds. It isn’t humanity vs. nature; It’s how deeply we realize and experience our undeniable relationship with nature. Bonsai can be that bridge; A bridge to deeper understanding, appreciation and connection." - Dan Wiederrecht

Please see: To Wake a Dragon

Beautiful words, beautiful trees.

Reclaiming a Cork Bark Oak Bonsai

"The tree had been trained as bonsai for some time but suffered a setback about a year before I acquired it (note the stubs on the photo above from the previous primary branches). Since then, it has been allowed to grow freely to regain its vigor. Based on the lowest branches that survived, I decided to change the front about 30 degrees to the left of the previous front." - Jonas Dupuich

I often mention the Jonas Dupuich Blog, Bonsai Tonight this issue is another good example why.

It is a lengthy description of taking on a neglected tree - and what it took to get to this point! Be sure to read the whole story -- there's more.

As in almost all of his blogs, Jonas lets us know (sometimes in an obvious way) the size of the bonsai he's working with. Without that photo, the difficulty of this project may be much less understood.

Using Non-Bonsai Tools

This note from Mike Sullivan in South Florida, was a heads-up about this little pressure cleaner

"From time to time we discover new "bonsai tools" originally meant for other purposes. This 'dry cleaning spot cleaner' is one of those jewels. As more and more people use them, we find out better ways to use and not use them.

Here's a note on that bonsai magician/the handy little spot cleaner:

I have destroyed mine repeatedly by not keeping it perfectly upright while using. Turning it at an angle to get into hard to reach areas destroys the inner coil. It causes it to rust and snap and can clog the nozzle. You can by replacement kits from the manufacturer. I’ve purchased a half dozen already. Difficult instructions to follow but doable. Much easier to remember to keep it upright.

Also, care should be taken on tropical bark, sounds silly but this machine is a little dynamo. Start at a distance with the softest setting then move toward the tree. If you see green. STOP. I stripped my first little tree in a heartbeat, Oops! Of course, it survived but a shocker to see all that green when it happened!

Another problem: these machines are awesome for Shohin, but bigger trees really tax the little powerhouse. They tend to run very hot. They are "spot" cleaners after all, not made for hours of constant running.

Good advice: when you feel the handle getting hot, set it down, do some hand brushing. When cooled; continue.

Another Non-Bonsai Tool

You may think a shovel is a shovel, but when out collecting yamadori, it's great to have something special.

This Radius Garden 22311 Root Slayer Nomad looks like it will be the answer for lots of collectors.

Gaining popularity in England, Harry Harrington had this to say on Facebook:

"I took the smaller spade (the Nomad) out collecting in really rocky (chalk) soil and it worked wonders! It was easily strong enough to pry up a big Dogwood but the relatively narrow spade made digging possible even with a lot of stone around (which normal spades just can't do). ... The Nomad is also smaller and lighter and it added barely any weight to my rucksack."

This one sound sounds like a real winner to me, I wish we had one "back in the day!" I've now placed it on my Bonsai Tools Page.

Bonsai Myths (Again)



In last month's newsletter, I brought up the subject of 'bonsai myths.' It encouraged Lance G. to write and ask me what my favorite myth is.

I still shake my head at this one:

"Sea Salt is good for Oceanside Trees"
More Bonsai Myths




BonsaiMary Gets Mail

William, MacD - Dalgety Bay, SCOTLAND United Kingdom

Greetings from snowy Scotland, yes we have a wee bit of snow today. Here is a "Bonsai Thought" for you which I use quite often when on duty at our Show stand at Scotland's Garden Show.
"There is no such thing as an Indoor Bonsai!" The truth is, as you know, that Bonsai are living "outdoor trees"... or well just normal trees.
It is amazing when you tell people this and when you go on to say that if you plant a "Bonsai" tree out in open ground they will actually grow into a full size tree! The look on people's faces is amazing.


William is right on! However, BonsaiMary does have an "Indoor Bonsai" page, just in case they insist.

The Bonsai Indoors page says on the first line: "Have you had problems growing bonsai trees indoors? As a friend once told me, "God never created house plants."


Vern M. - League City, TX

Can you recommend a safe fungicide and insecticide for buttonwoods.

I asked: Do you have a fungus? Send me the symptoms, it may be something else.

Vern said "No fungus now but just trying to be proactive. I had to put a little ant killer on it so maybe it didn’t like that. I replied: "You're probably right about the ant killer!"

Sometimes, as teachers, we don't ask enough questions. In this case, I'm glad I did, it was "something else."

Here's a page with lots of Buttonwood care information. At the bottom of the page, you will see my recommendation for both fungicide and pest control on buttonwood.

Until Next Month

February is a strange weather month. Some areas are dreading more snow, others see crocus peeking through. Collectors are still trying to find the prizes before the weather changes.

Just a little over a month ago, here in Central Florida we had an unusual and very unwelcome solid freeze. This week the temperatures will be in the 80s (F). (I'm so happy!)

I appreciate your comments and questions. They can be funny or serious, sometimes, as in the case of Mike Sullivan's "heads-up" story this month, they are very important!

Looking forward to your emails,

Mary Miller

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