Saturday, March 14, 2009

Welcome to My Bonsai Blog!

Bonsai in progress...

If you are checking this out because you recieved a request card from me, here's the deal. Bonsai are not one specific kind of plant like many people think. Bonsai trees can be made out of almost any plant, including tropicals. It is a process of starting with plant material and grooming the roots and the top in artistic ways. It is never an overnight enterpriise.

I have been dabbling in bonsai as a sort of passtime for several years. Among bonsai enthusiasts, bonsai means different things to different artisans. Some love looking at already finished trees and will pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for "finished" trees that have taken years to finish. Others like to start with good trees and shrubs from gardens and nurseries, and bring them to their potential as bonsai. I am in this category, as well as collecting them from the wild. Permission to dig must always be obtained no matter where one digs from.

In order to simplify the process of asking permission, I leave calling cards when I spot something that could lend itself well to bonsai. More often than not, these potential plants are gangly or appear to be in bad shape. They are sometimes landscaping plants that home or landowners no longer want. That can be handy; I can remove an unwanted tree, shrub, or vine, for free. Usually I can do this in one day, and I try not to leave a huge mess. I replace soil if necessary.

So if I left you a card, and you would like to get rid of a plant or two, please give me a call.

Thanks, Michelle

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recent Cedar Elm Collection

Collection procedures started last year. It was hiding a few miles from my house. I got overeager and picked it out a week ago. Fingers crossed and lots of protection...

After recovery, this one is in for lots of carving. Depending on growth, I plan to make it a cascade.

Collecting Trip Next Week

I can't wait! I will be setting off next Wendnesday morning, early-30, to collect pinion pine (pinus edulis) and live oak from the South West. It's like I'm already there. I'm on my own. Louis doesn't want to go. There's nothing there for him in the area I plan to go.

He doesn't seem worried that I'm setting off alone. My collecting buddy George can't go. Thanks to him, I know how to collect in shale and limestone. I will drive for about 9 hours and probably be too eager to dig to wait until the next day. I hope to have at least two or three hours dig time on the first night and all of the next day I think I'll be there two nights.

I will be more prepared this time. I will have my rooting hormone with me.

I had planned to meadow crash like in my old scouting days, but my better half drew the line there. I'm not sure which predators he's more worried about; two-legged, four legged, or slithery. I'm still tempted to do it at least one of the nights I'm there. Nothing like sleeping on the frozen earth to remind you of who you really are and how much life matters. But then, after a few hours of hard work, I might feel plenty validated and crave a soft warm bed. Maybe I should save the sleeping on the earth thing for my back yard. Not all adventuring is desirable-I guess some of the enduring-the-hardships was out of necessity. I'm older. I have become attached to common comforts.

Our best friend Steve got it right away. "Oh, man, you're having an adventure aren't you?! I'm jealous!"

Part of this trip is as much about reclaiming part of myself as it is gathering potential bonsai.

At my age, I was beginning to think the adventures were over. Not that the married with a house, a dog and a fence is a bad life! I've got it good here. I'm happy. I am still madly in love with my husband. I love my stressful job! But I miss some of the old me. The fiercely independent, strike-out-on-your-own, devil be damned me. I only wish I could take my dog. It would be too much for her. She's old and gray since the last time I went.

I hope to find some old pinion like the old fella I collected a few years ago (pictured). It is doing well, considering the fact that I didn't secure it in its new pot a couple years ago.

I also hope to bring home some gnarly old live oaks. I'm still waiting on a call back from one of the land owners to grant me permission again.

I'll be keeping my eyes open along the way to see what else grows in the region besides miles and tumbleweeds.

I plan to take lots of pictures and post an article on

Really, I'm now halfway planning a digging trip to Houston, Tx, too. I have family there I haven't seen in forever. I could see them and look for some tropical stuff. I especially would like to find some fat bougainvillea, some sea grape, and whatever else I can obtain permission for.

At this rate I'm going to have to make some money by selling collected material so that I can buy a jeep! Our little cars aren't really suited to this kinda thing. George drove last time so it wasn't a problem then.

So, as my thoughts race and I lose sleep in anticipation, I have started gathering the few tools I'm going to need. Oh, that reminds me; where did I put that chain?

If I never post again, it's because I became coyote food...(that would be my luck; that a gangly ol coyote ould get me instead of the noble and fierce eagle). I know, I ain't right. To end on such a morbid note!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Gardener's Trash

Well, I am still obsessed with bonsai. So I was doing a search for, of all things, "bougainvillea stump." I landed on someone's blog describing her brutal and merciless slaying of a huge bougainvillea stump on her property. With startling and gory detail she talked about using axes and chainsaws and trucks and fire and all other means of nasty torture.

All the while I am sitting at my desk at work muffling my cries so as not to get pink slipped. "NNNNOOOOOOOOOO" I wanted to scream out!

Wait! Let me have it!!! I will take your eyesore off your hands and coddle it and nurture it back to health as if it were my own, borne out of love and passion! We don't get bougainvilleas growing out of control here, in the land of heat-from-the-bowels-of-hell...and winters that would make an ice statue out of Satan himself. I know more Northern climes have snowdrifts as high as buildings but we have ice storms. Ice storms that prevent the very act of walking for days at a time. Unless you have some sort of sick hatred of your own hip bones, that is. If so then walk and slide your heart out! Because you WILL break a hip and no one will pity you for your folly, foolish girl!

This is a characteristic my husband deems aberrant; I want something so there MUST be a means to obtain it! Without losing my lunch money, as well. I call it resourceful. He has other words for it.

But I know, that as badly as I want a bougainvillea bonsai with a nice, fat trunk, there is some rabid woman in a sunnier place brutalizing the very thing that would quiet my yearning. If we were to meet at a gardening club meeting somewhere, we could have solved each other's problems.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Personal End Poverty Week

A blogger I follow had a post in it that captured my attention. Apparently, by checking in to this too late, I missed Blog Action Day October 15th. I'll have to wait until next year to get involved.

But it made me remember-uncomfortably-earlier today when I felt aggravated that we don't have enough room in our living room to make the 62 inch screen tv look proportional to our other stuff. The TV is a generous gift from my stepson to his dad and me.

Anyway, it forced me to look at some reality that I didn't want to look at while I was feeling sorry for myself.

According to Global Richlist, my spouse and I are in the top .91% richest people in the world! Of course, so are most of us Americans.

In fact, when I was a teenager and was convinced that my mother and I were poor (we were), we were still in the top 12.02 percent.

With the gross excesses that we in this country enjoy, and with all of our collective complaining and demanding of the world's resources, no wonder the rest of the world hates us.

While there are times that my boxer eats better than the humans in our house while we painfully wait for payday, we still eat better and more often than does most of the populated universe.

So. I am making this week my own personal Stomp Out Poverty Week. I am going to do a sort of Lent, or fast.

I will:

1. avoid drinking mass produced drinks like sodas
2. take lunch to work, saving on fuel emissions and cash, and cutting down on waste in packaging
3. will keep my driving to a minimum
4. reuse as many items as possible, within appropriate health limits
5. print only the most necessary paperwork
6. refrain from complaining about my lot in life, and will express gratitude for how blessed I am
7. provide help and assistance to others when possible
8. donate to my local church and donate unwanted items to the Osage Tribal Shelter (because poverty is in our own community)
9. talk to my husband about donating a Christmas meal to a family
10. choose a child on the Angel Tree at Wal-Mart so that a child can recieve something from my family anonymously.

I challenge everyone who reads this here and on my other blog to do the same: do it your way. Decide on ten things you will do this week to chip away at the blight of poverty. Even in hard times, if you have a home to go to, a bed to sleep in, clothes you never wear, food you will probably never eat, blankets you aren't using, warmth and shelter from the elements, you are more fortunate than most of the world.

I'm doing my part this week. How about you?

God bless you and your loved ones this holiday season.

(check out Globalrichlist by clicking on this entrie's title)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Struck Fear in the Heart of my Husband

When I told him I think I could design and make my own furniture. Out with the ugly couch I made slipcovers (pic) for. We never have to buy furniture again. I'll be making it from now on.

"You won't even use the saw I got you last year!" he says.

"That wasn't a gift, that was bought to fix the floor in that dive we left two years ago. And anyway, I want a circular saw. And a table for it."

He rolls his eyes and winces as though he is having birthing pains.

Seriously! How hard can it be? All I need is a frame, some stuffing, and some fabric! I even researched it on the web, and found this; . It's a little rough, but it's like the little black dress; you can dress it up or dress it down. I'm sure mine would be fabulous! wink.

Rethink Repot

So I came up with over thirty plants that need new training pots. More than likely half of them will be getting colanders or pond baskets because that's too many to come up with good pots for; I am not a nursery owner. Neither am I independently wealthy. I don't plan to show any of these plants for a few years, so...I'll opt to save my marraige and go with the abovementioned pond baskets.

Pond baskets are the best thing since buttered bread. This is because roots planted in them self-ramify. You can't get better drainage. By the time your plant is ready to be put into its first bonsai pot, its root system is much better developed than something coming out of the ground or other type of pot.

I know that there are more attractive options available to more aesthetically minded bonsaiists, but they are beyond my very limited budget. I prefer to spend my miniscule budget on trees rather than training pots. I usually do not fill the pot to the top with soil, either, forcing roots to form in a shallow manner.

Sooo, gotta keep my eyes peeled for these boogers since they aren't commonly on the shelves this time of year.
Also this year nearer to spring, I plan to try lining a few half crates with mesh screen and using these as planting boxes for my larger material. Same results as the pond baskets, and easier to move...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall and the Inevitable Pause

Fall has come and all of my trees are tucked away under their benches. Much to my DH's chagrin, I have moved the most recently collected trees into my art studio/shed. It's too cold to paint out there right now anyway. I am so eager to work on my newly acquired stuff, but I have to be patient and wait. In the meantime, I am updating my inventory lists, identifying how many training pots and pond baskets I'm going to need, and I'm appreciating the finer things that I won't have time to notice in the spring. We are worried about our ARM raising again, making our house payment impossible. Lacking knowledge about what to do next and being called an irresponsible borrower on conservative talk shows is getting intolerable.

It makes little things like studying bark an even nicer escape.

I'm still not over my favorite nursery closing. It's been open forty or fifty years, and they have had some of their plants so long that they have grown through the bottom of their pots and into the ground and reached heights of thirty feet in some cases. My bonsai buddy and I could go on an excursion and drag stuff out of there for pennies on the dollar. Most of my 60 or so projects have come from there. None of my trees are anything like a finished bonsai (if there is such a thing). They are all projects in the works. All but a very few of them are still in tubs and training pots, or in the ground for fattening up. Most of them are still awaiting heavy pruning or trunk chops.

I plan to use this space for chronicling their progress and to record the damage I do to them! Hopefully, the damage is minor and the artistry will be high. More than likely the BS will be of more note.

Alas, it is winter time and all I can do is plan and think and look. Today I am admiring the bark on my old man pinion pine tree I collected in February 2005.