Extreme repotting – Rebuilding the collection from the ground up at the JBG

As I’ve mentioned before in the introductory video to this blog, one of the things that really fascinates me in working on the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens bonsai collection, is just how complex the project is, and how it really requires you to go back to the fundamentals of botany-before-bonsai. You can’t work a tree if it’s not in tip-top shape, and it’s our responsibility to make sure it stays there. As a wiser man than I has said before – we don’t want our trees ‘alive’. We want them ‘thriving’. Continue reading

What to do when your signature bonsai almost dies. Twice.

Our story begins seven years and three computers ago. Now, since my computers tend to meet violent and non-backed-up ends, most of the pictures in this post have been reconstituted from various dubious sources, and are somewhat lacking in quality. I hope they shall make up for it in the story that they tell.

The story is that of one of my first and earliest trees. My signature tree. Which has gone from humble nursery-material beginnings to the top of a national exhibition, and right to death’s door. Twice. Continue reading

The effects of proper soil in bonsai – example from the JBG collection

One of the greatest challenges in managing the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ bonsai collection, and in re-styling the trees, is the poor condition of the soil and the root mass in virtually all the trees in the collection. This literally affects all aspects of working with these trees, from watering and fertilizing routines, and through to options for re-growing and re-working the trees. If the foundations are shaky, the whole building will be affected.

Therefore, one of the first orders of business in the collection is slowly repotting all the trees into better, more aerated, substrate. A particularly striking case in point came from one of the trees in the collection, which was slowly (and then quickly) deteriorating, clearly due to root problems. When the leaves had turned from a pale yellow to white, branches were dying back, and washing out the soil with water and humic acid were having less and less effect each time, it was clear that a complete, bare-root repotting was necessary to save the tree.

The tree was bare-rooted and repotted into very well-draining soil at the end of August. This is the result less than six weeks later: