A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

April 3, 2022

Bonsai Bernie

The repotted tree. 

We are back from Birmingham, AL where we were visiting with my daughter, son in law, and granddaughter.  We are so happy to have everyone healthy and adorable. 

This was probably the first trip to Alabama when we didn't bring a car load of tools for home repair projects.  We managed to play a little golf in between watching Merritt sleep. 

We came home to find spring in the air, though the weather was a tad chilly at times. That means it's time for lawn and garden care. This year I had a new task, repotting a Honeysuckle bonsai tree that I purchased last September in upstate New York.

At the nursery in NY
The photo on the right side is what it looked like at the nursery. It didn't look like much to me, but my brother Rob, who is the bonsai expert, said that this tree is probably close to 100 years old. The price was very reasonable probably because it looked like it was neglected. There were other trees at this nursery that were selling for $12-18K, so this was a "great deal." Rob said he should buy it, but it wouldn't grow in Florida as it needs colder weather. 

So I said I would buy it, keep it in Virginia and he can tell me how to take care of it.  I know honeysuckles grow here as I would smell their flowers as I walked by a large group of them near the Braddock Steet metro station.

As I carried it to the cash register several other bonsai customers admired it and said it was "great deal." I don't know if they were being honest or trying to comfort me on buying what appeared to be to be a dead bush.

In winter storage in my yard

So last winter I placed it against the house with the soil covered with mulch. I watered it a few times, but mostly I didn't do anything to it. It really didn't look like much. 

But this spring it started to bloom again. 

Yesterday Rob sent me a pot from Florida that his friend Bruce sold to us. Rob also sent me some high quality bonsai soil. Today I re-potted the tree while Rob watched me on FaceTime and advised me on what to do. 

Getting ready to repot

Removing the old soil

The old soil was some type of tiny marble gravel. None of the roots were growing in the white gravel. They all were root bound around the perimeter. Rob said to remove all that soil and trim off the roots. 

We would replace the soil with high quality bonsai soil that contains several types of inorganic rock including crushed lava. The new roots would grow into the soil. The micro roots would actually grow in the lava gravel. 

Trimming roots

Once I had the old soil removed, I put a layer of the new soil in the pot and installed the tree. Rob advised me to plant the tree off center according to the golden rule. That required that I trim some more roots.

Then I had to wire the tree into the pot to prevent it from pushing out as the tree grew. Final layer of soil, some Osmocote fertilizer and a light watering. Now to see if it survives.  At some point it will bloom with yellow fragrant flowers. 

Back to trains soon.

Can you see the ant checking out the new planting?

The tree has some incredible burls that can only come from long life. The star pattern in the center is the remains of a dead branch that Rob carved last Fall while he was here. 

1 comment:

  1. Where is the ant? Post some pictures as it grows and hopefully blooms.

    Grand babies are wonderful!