I am always on the hunt for new material. I don’t necessarily want a bigger collection, but I do want a better collection. I try to sell a tree for every tree I buy or dig. I get rid of the tree with the least promise and replace it with something with more promise. Simple in theory but difficult to put into practice. Somehow the collection always seems to be growing bigger, pun and all.

I Australia we don’t have the yamadori available to dig that other countries have. Unfortunately we don’t really get the snow loads or really have the altitude to produce the volume of material such as the deadwood junipers you see in europe, Japan and the united states. Some native material can be found with nice features but I tend to think that our native species should be left to grow in their natural environment for all to enjoy. It would take hundreds of years for nature to replace them in those alpine ecosystems so I think it’s a little selfish to want to take that for yourself. As a result, i look for introduced species to dig of which there are many.  Elm, Oak, Hawthorn, Pine, plum and olive are just a handful of the species that are strewn across the country. Most of these species become a weed once they establish themselves outside of private gardens and farms.  Being interested in Pines I tend to focus on areas around timber plantations where self-sown escapees can be found.

A nice place for a walk.

Autumn is the season I like to scout these plantations and ear mark potential trees for collection in early spring. I choose autumn for a number of reasons. It’s not too hot so I don’t have to water the trees at home as carefully which means I can go away overnight without worrying. It’s also not too cold so walking around the forests for a few hours without heavy jackets is possible and then of course autumn is also a good time to scout for other things as well……

Most of the areas I walk into are good for numerous thing that I am interested in. I look for bonsai material, fishing spots and also mushrooms.

A little on the large side but interesting movement for its size when compared to its bolt upright neighbors.

I have been into a number of forests already this autumn and have not found any trees worth digging yet, but i did find a lake worth fishing and most of the trips we have come home with mushrooms!

A nice bonus from a day where no dig-able trees were found.

Most of the young pines i find could be easily grown from seed with better movement and better roots so I don’t bother digging them. What I look for is movement and old bark. Bark only happens with time so by digging trees with good bark you are putting yourself ahead of the game, and if you find good bark and good movement you have found a tree worth digging.

It seems others also like this spot, unfortunately it seems they don't like it enough to clean up after them selves.

Even though most fo my outings don’t produce trees they do get me out of the city and into fresh air and great views. Hopefully in the coming months I am able to get out some more and collect some mushrooms, catch a fish and maybe even find a tree worth digging. I always enjoy the trips away even if you come home empty-handed, the day never feels like a waste.

A nice view.

If the scouting trips don’t reveal and trees worth digging I do have a couple earmarked from last year that I might try to liberate.