A friend gave my wife a beautiful small bonsai dish and then a few weeks later, the same friend presented me with a carefully-chosen small evergreen that was well shaped and only needed a touch up to become an excellent bonsai starter. The plant is chamaecyparis obtusa nana lutea
The dish was rather shallow and my friend suggested that I should get a deeper container for this beautiful (and expensive) plant. I decided to show off. Here are the pictures of me doing exactly that.
I like to use a good, porous potting soil for the process. I check out the plant to see how it will fit and to get a mental picture.
I study the relationship of the plant to the container. I move it around and study the placement possibilities. The main rule I am following here is to “stay out of the center.” I get an idea of my direction with the project.
Take the plant out of its container and study the root structure. This is the “soul of the plant” and sometimes that soul needs a bit of re-arranging. (I’m sure you can understand that).
I carefully break up the root ball. Sometimes I have to use a hack saw or a knife to cut the bottom from the root ball but this one is easy. Pruning the roots of a plant adds strength to the plant by encouraging the remaining roots to branch out and develop more feeders.
After determining the placement of the plant, I place the soil around the root ball, packing it down firmly, and this gives me the basic shape for the “mountain.”
I start to “build a mountainside” around the plant by adding well-chosen rocks which support the plant while they keep the soil in place. The rocks, in essence, increase the depth of the container in an attractive manner. At this point, I take care to make sure all roots are covered.
Dekie and I keep a bucket of “neat rocks” that we have picked up here or there. Collecting rocks is fun. My next step in this project is to use a few of these to build “cliffs and mountainsides.” I make sure that everything fits tightly so it won’t fall out when the plant is moved.
I used to have to go to the aquarium department of a pet store to find the polished rocks, but I had spotted these flat, polished, black rocks in the Dollar Store one day. I bought them for just such an occasion as this. I start adding a stabilizing and attractive “ground cover” with the black rocks. As I work, I pack the soil over and over to make sure it will stand the test of time.
We cleaned off a prominent place on the patio for the mountain bonsai to live. After a couple of years of meditative pruning it should be a masterpiece.
And here’s a top view
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A few years ago Dekie and I visited a bonsai show in Nashville at the Cheekwood gardens Here’s the story