A few years ago I was volunteering at school for the CCSF Environmental Horticulture Plant Bazaar. They have these plant sales twice a year at City to raise money for department scholarships and such. I don’t remember if it was the Spring or the Winter sale, but I spotted this little Cotoneaster microphylla hiding out in the large lath house and decided I was going to bonsai that sucker.
It’s form is perfect. It’s a tiny little shrub by nature, with tiny leaves (micro phylla, as its name reflects). The trunk on this particular one reminded me of a tree creature climbing out of the ground. I brought it home, and let it sit there for quite a bit. Like, a year or more kinda quite a bit. It was ’09 that I got it. It was in a gallon pot, and Tony was getting frustrated at the plastic bucket floating around the yard for so long. Looking at my picture tags, it looks like it got its first potting in September 2010. I came home from work one day and Tony had potted it into a large terra cotta pot. In a snit, I came home with this lovely little gunmetal black number the next day and repotted it for bonsai growth.
So, for a year and a half now, it’s been growing. I hardly ever water it, so the Irish moss I’d planted with it at first was not long for survival. It did get pretty though, like a big green tuffet. The funnest part of bonsai is patience. Now that I’ve had a couple of years to watch it grow I was ready to hack. I’ve been taking Ikebana classes, too, which really enabled me to see the form of the bush that I want to develop into my bonsai “tree”. The natural form of this species is something of a densely weaving mat of herringbone branches. I want a simpler, cleaner form, but with some excitement.
It was a major hack! The trick to keeping bonsai alive for so long (some are centuries old) is that you have to trim the roots on a biannual basis. With the shape of this container, I have to root prune by way of slicing straight down around the mouth of the planter and removing the center as a plug, replacing everything that’s inside the “donut” portion of the pot. Pretty straightforward…