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I often hear people saying they wish they had access to good stock and or that they cant find any stock worth purchasing. Often the journey to find good stock can be difficult but there is definitely good stock available if you know where to look.

A couple of weekends ago I visited a friend on the outskirts of Melbourne to see how his ground grown stock had progressed this year.

A trident slipped from the grow bed.

A trident slipped from the grow bed.

As you can see from the above picture, the stock was going very well indeed. There is no real secret about how to produce these results as they are a simple a matter of spending 10 years applying good technique and working the root bases each and every year.

Another great base.

Another great base.

Each year the trees have been dug up and cut back hard to encourage a fine, flat root system. Digging each year coupled with the excellent growing conditions in the grow beds results in good yearly top growth without roots getting too thick and creating faults. This makes for trunks with great base flare and very small scars which in many cases are healed in the ground.

A Japanese maple from the same beds.

A Japanese maple from the same beds.

When out of the ground, the most important cuts to the roots are in removing those that are downward growing and scarring the base of the trunk to further thicken the base; and with this stock, this has been done with great results. In fact, I was so impressed with the quality of the material I put my name on a couple that might come out of the ground in the next couple of years.

The roots on the underside of the trunk being removed.

The roots on the underside of the trunk being removed.

For those not willing to spend 5 years working out the techniques and then a further 10 growing trunks luckily this grower also sells some of his stock.

His trident maples are available through Chojo Feature trees in Mount Evelyn.  Jeff who runs the place is an extremely nice guy and I am sure could help out those interested in a trunk and or other bonsai related products.

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I have just got back from a weekend at a friends place, Shibui Bonsai.  Shibui Bonsai is located in North east victoria about 3 and a bit hours from Melbourne and specialise in ground grown stock. I try to head up each year to help Neil (the owner) dig a few rows of tree out of the ground. Neil grows a range of species and this year we dug Tridents, Chinese Elm, Japanese black Pine, and Japanese Maple. In some of the other rows Neil had Chinese Quince, Shimpaku and a range of other desirable bonsai species that will probably come out after another season.

Matt swinging a shovel while Neil prunes the dug trees.

Having been up over a number of years now it has been great to see how trees develop over time. As trees are dug and pruned, they are sorted into those that might need to go back in the ground for another year and those that are ready to begin their life as bonsai. The digging went quickly this year as the trees had only been in the ground for a season and as a result didn’t have many large roots. The trident maples had really nice compact root-balls and as did the black pines which was a nice result and should make for them establishing into training pots much more quickly.

A batch of root over rock tridents, root and top pruned waiting to be potted up.

At this time of year Neil likes to dig the trees, prune them and then heal them back into a growing trench where they will happily sit dormant until they are potted up in a few weeks time.

Once potted up they spend around a year re-establishing themselves in the new pot before becoming available for sale.

Last years Tridents on the sale benches.

Some larger tridents.

Once we had finished the day’s digging we went for a drive into the local forest to have a look at a few things of interest. We checked out the old gold diggings while looking for native orchids in amongst the leaf litter. I think some of the native orchids would make excellent accents. Neil pointed out a few of the colony forming species as the most suitable and easy to grow. It is illegal to collect them from the wild but luckily they are available from local growers if you can hunt them down. I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for a few in the future.

The beautiful white trunks of the Brittle Gum.

I always enjoy heading up to Neil’s place. It’s a beautiful part of the country and it just happens to have an excellent grower there as well.

If you are interested in visiting Neil’s Nursery I believe you can via prior arrangement. His details are found on his website: http://shibuibonsai.com.au/ For those that can’t make the drive to his place, he does also sell regularly as local club shows and will be at the Bonsai society of victoria’s show this October.

 

 

 

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