Take a look at this unusual bonsai work-in-progress.
These are ash tree seedlings that I planted. The planter is a rock slap with a self-made mud wall and decorative stones.
The stones are arranged to sort of mimic a granite rock-slide landscape. This is my first attempt at making a mud dam style saikei (Japanese bonsai "planted landscape").
Saikei is much more advanced than growing a single bonsai tree. Multiple trees have to be cared for in a forest arrangement. Natural placement of the trees is a big deal, and should never be organized into a perfect circle, square, rectangle, triangle, or any other clearly man-made symmetrical formation.
Also the stone, moss, and soil has to be decoratively arranged and manicured for aesthetic value. Elements might need to be adjusted over time as the trees change their shape or size, or if the surrounding landscape deteriorates and shifts around.
Ash trees were planted here, because I get thousands of naturally growing weed trees that sprout from the tall Ash trees that shade this area. I figured it would be easiest to plant something native here.
The plan seems to be working well. I've got four or five seedlings that have been growing here for about a one year in this shallow bonsai bed of soil.
Since this is a rock landscape, today I decided to dig into my Rock'N Roll roots, and go a little wild myself.
I ripped the leaves, purposely to allow more sunlight onto the shaded stems. This is a heavily shaded area in front of the back deck, and I felt like the trees in the background were not getting nearly as much sunlight as the trees in the front with the large leaves.
Some of the leaves were looking kind of patchy with insect damage to them, so I thought it made sense to rip those parts off anyway.
Sure, I could have been more clean and delicate, and use scissors to cut clean lines. Today I just didn't feel like it. These leaves I am hoping will fall off eventually, and be replaced by entirely new ones. These leaves are very strong through. Ripping them is a bit like trying to tear plastic fibers. The tree tissue is probably high in silica.
Ash trees are very resilient. Like the Willow, you can practically tug them out of the ground, and the roots will usually stay in-tact. Replant it right away, and it will probably survive, or even grow back stronger than before. That is basically how these trees were planted.
Ash trees have an evolved broadleaf vein structure in the leaves. So any rips and tears in the leaves hardly harms the other parts of the leaf. When the leaves are ripped off or too small, it activates a healthy tree to grow more leaves or branches. New leaves later in the year will usually be smaller than the leaves that sprouted initially. This is ideal of bonsai to encourage smaller leaves, branch divisions lower to the ground.
In the coming months, I'll keep an eye on these trees. They seem to like growing in the understory shade of their full sized parent trees standing sky high above. Watering for these trees is less frequent, and they seem to enjoy the slighly-always-damp cool, clay soil. However, the mud wall is melting off and exposing some of the metal screen structure inside, so I'll need to pat some more wet mud on to patch the wall up.
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