Last week at the MidAtlantic Bonsai Festival Taiga Urushibata from Japan created a bonsai Ponderosa pine. It was originally collected by Andy Smith and quite healthy. It was a difficult tree to design. Robert Mahler was the translator for Mr. Urushibata. Not knowing the condition of the roots made the recommended future transplanting more difficult One of my students, John Caulwell from Pennsylvania was the lucky winner of this unique collected bonsai.
Today he and his wife drove three hours from Pennsylvania to attend an open workshop with me and brought his new bonsai. We examined the roots and to my surprise, they were beautiful, healthy and full of fibrous small roots. It was safe for transplanting and we only removed one section of an awkward large root. Fortunately I just happen to have four containers suitable for John’s Ponderosa pine. A deep cascade was selected but needed the help of my assistant Alan Adair to grasp, pull and twist the tie-down wire to prevent movement in the new container. He even had to stand on the container to get the 4mm aluminum wire to stabilize the tree.
This Ponderosa pine is unique, as are most collected specimens. Rather than just looking at the design of the unusual trunk formation; its important to stop and appreciate the hundred or so years the tree grew on a cliff somewhere and still had the will and persistence to survive. Taiga Urushibata worked several hours to bring out the beauty of the collected tree. The lucky owner, John Caulwell and I examined the tree, prepared the roots, added mycorrhizae to the soil mix and potted the tree for the next step in the development of a new bonsai. Although the design is not complete at this time, the beauty of this bonsai can still be appreciated.