Bare root seedlings – winter supply only

It is winter again and that means bare root seedling time at Shibui Bonsai.

Those who have purchased before will note a price increase this year. It was just not worth the time to collect the smaller seedlings at the previous price of 50c each.

Growers in West Australia and Tasmania will be aware that state Quarantine laws prohibit us sending live trees and most seed to your states. While this can be frustrating for individuals, these regulations are to protect you from many of the pests and diseases we have to contend with here in the Eastern mainland states.

Most of these seedlings have never been pruned so trunks are usually tall and straight with few side branches. Roots have not been pruned. Some have good lateral roots, others just have the early tap root. Fortunately tridents grow new roots very well so the roots can be chopped really hard with full confidence they will grow new lateral roots.

All these seedlings will be sent bare root. Roots are wrapped in wet newspaper and a plastic bag to retain moisture during delivery. Trunks will be chopped to around 40cm long to facilitate packing. Bare root seedlings are only available while they are dormant through winter – usually July and August.

Smaller seedlings $1 each. Trunk thickness up to around 3mm thick. These are flexible enough to bend if you want to try to create twisted type trident trunks or plait them to fuse together. They are suitable as smaller trees in groups and ideal to thread through holes drilled in sheet metal to promote future nebari.

Medium $2 each. Trunks from 3mm to around 6mm thick. Great to thread though metal plates as the first stage of developing great nebari.

Large $5 each. Trunks around 6-10mm thick. Too thick to bend but these are a good start toward growing larger trunks in grow boxes or in the ground. Also good as focal trees in a group planting.

Forest packs $30 each. I select a range of trunk thickness that will suit a starter group planting. Typically a group pack will have 2 large trunks, 8 medium and 10 smaller tridents. These have been very popular so only available while stocks last.

Extra large POA. These are still ‘feral’ seedlings that have grown unnoticed behind sheds or hidden among garden plants so they’ve had a chance to get a bit thicker. Please be aware that these have never had any pruning or root work so roots may or may not be ideal for bonsai. Trunks may have little taper. Bigger is not always better for bonsai.

I can also select trident seedlings to various other criteria. If you want seedlings to approach graft roots on another tree then seedlings with a low bend work better. Seedlings with bends might suit your plans better than straight trunks or really skinny trunks that are still flexible enough to wire and bend extensively. Seedlings with long roots might be useful for root over rock bonsai. If you have a project let me know and I’ll try to offer advice and find the right seedlings that will suit you best.

Seedlings with low bends are good for approach grafting new roots onto existing trees.

Seedlings with existing bends. Some will have more bends while others will have gentle bends like these. Please specify small or medium size.

Japanese maples are much slower to grow. We still get good numbers of self sown seedlings growing in the garden beds but they typically only get to 3mm thick and around 10-15 cm tall in the first year. There are some Japanese maple seedlings a bit older and thicker but nowhere near as many as tridents. Small – under 3mm thick $2 and larger $5 each duet to numbers, ages and higher demand. Buyers should also note that the Japanese maple seedlings offered come from a wide variety of Japanese maple varieties. Some will have red summer leaves, some green. You may get some with brilliant red autumn leaves while others might be yellow and there’s no telling whether any will be strong growers or have long or short internodes.

I can also supply seed for those who enjoy the magic of germinating seeds and start bonsai from scratch. Japanese or trident maple seed: 10 seeds $3, 20 seeds $5, 50 seeds $10 or 100 seeds $20.

Japanese maples are notoriously variable when grown from seed. Cross pollination between different types in the garden also means there’s no way of knowing which seedings will look like the parent and which could be different but that’s one of the great things about growing from seed – there’s always the chance of growing a special type. Every new seedling is a new and unique cultivar because every seedling has a new combination of genes from each parent. Named cultivars cannot be grown from seed so don’t ask for seed from specific named Japanese maple varieties. If you are really determined to try to grow Japanese maples with specific traits, the best I can do is select seed from trees with broad characteristics such as red leaves, dwarf habit, etc but please be aware that these traits may or may not show up in all (or any?) of your seedlings.

As usual delivery will be through Aust post. I’m using express delivery this year as we experienced some delays with regular post last season. Packages under 1kg typically up to around 20 smaller seedlings are usually around $15. Allow around $20 for most orders but packs with more than 100 or some larger trunks are heavier and larger so delivery price can be higher. Post cost also depends on your location so please advise your postcode or address so I can calculate delivery price for your order.

email orders to: neil@shibuibonsai.com.au

Trident maple Group planting

I’ve done some previous posts about starting a group planting but posting this year’s offer of seedlings https://shibuibonsai.com.au/?p=2338 prompted me to put together the group shown here.

I’ve found bonsai groups a great way to get a reasonably acceptable bonsai specimen in just a few years. No waiting for decades for the trunk to grow or branches to develop. Lots of trunks together help to provide the visual bulk and canopy so your group can look presentable relatively quickly.

Bonsai groups can be any size and have any number of trees but more trees together tends to look better sooner.

I’ve started here with the group pack shown in the previous post. Shibui Bonsai forest packs consist of a mix of trunk sizes. If you are finding your own seedlings try to get a similar range of trunk thicknesses – a few thicker ones and a range of thinner ones to fill out the forest. there’s around 20 trees in the forest pack but you don’t have to use all of them. Spares can be used for other projects.

As well as the seedlings you’ll need a tray. I use these nursery seedling trays because they are easy to get and a convenient size, durable and easy to get but any convenient container will do. For different sized groups consider an appropriate sized tray. Your container does not need to be as shallow as this. My older trident groups were established and grown on in much deeper polystyrene fruit boxes. Larger, deeper containers will allow your trees to grow and develop quicker if you want to speed up evolution.

Start by sorting an root pruning the seedlings if they have not already been done. tridents are really resilient and pruning thick roots short will help promote more finer and surface roots vital to good bonsai.

Some of the trees for this project after root pruning

The thickest, tallest tree becomes the focal point for the group. Usually placed around 1/3 from either left or right and just in front of the mid-line front to back. I’ve gone with a 1/3 left placement this time as shown.

Now add the other thicker trunks. This is where you can add your own creativity to the group but they will generally be towards the front and closer to the middle than the edges. It is easier if all your trees are relatively straight but if you have trunks with some movement you will also need to try to create harmony by arranging the bends so they look similar.

Pay particular attention to spacing. I’ve found this is particularly difficult as we seem to have a natural tendency to plant things equally spaced so I have to think carefully and force myself to put some trunks quite close together to create a random spacing within the group of trunks. intertwining roots of adjacent trees is no problem but if your trees have lots of roots don’t be frightened to cut roots on one side so you can get the trunks close.

Keep adding trunks with smaller ones mostly toward the outer edges and back. Thinner trunks at the rear helps build an impression of greater depth and size. If some of the trees have branches try to place those so the branches grow into spaces or out of the group. That won’t always be possible so keep branch cutters handy to remove any that are growing close to other trees.

Keep checking that you are not making rows of trees. It seems to be another human trait to line things up but nature is more random so if you see rows forming just move trunks a little to break up lines.

view from the front

Check from the side as well. Look for lines forming and check that all the trees are standing at a similar angle to create harmony. I often need to add more potting soil to prop up trees as they don’t have many roots for support yet.

view from the side

After I’m happy with placement and angles I trim the trunks to final height. Try to make the thickest focal tree the tallest then work out toward the edges, pruning each tree a little shorter so the overall outline will be a rounded dome. Don’t forget that your trees will always grow up so pruning shorter than required now can be a good thing.

After watering your group into the fresh soil do another check and reposition any trunks that have sagged or leaned over. Now put your new forest in a protected place to settle in. Check occasionally to make sure trunks have not fallen over. Just push any problems back into position and add some more potting mix if required.

Another trident group planting a few months after assembly.

I generally find some faults during the first year. Things I should have seen but didn’t. Spaces that don’t look great and trunks at odd angles that clash with the overall look. Any of these things can be corrected next spring when the group can be chopped into sections and re positioned or new trees added to enhance the composition.

The groups above have been assembled from relatively young trees but groups can be made from more mature trunks which will give an even better look sooner. Here’s a shohin (under 20cm) trident group I put together last winter with trees from the Shibui Bonsai sales tables.

If you would like to create a trident group from more advanced trunks talk to Neil to see what we have available that would suit. I’ve supplied larger trees for client group projects and I’m happy to select trees that I think would work well together.

Eventually your trident group could end up looking something like these.

Shibui winter 2021 Seedling sale

We have plenty of self sown maple seedlings in the garden beds at Shibui Bonsai again this year. These have all grown without any help so I can supply them at reduced rates. These seedlings will only be available until they start to grow in spring or until sold out.

First up let’s deal with quarantine. We cannot send trees to either WA or Tasmania due to plant quarantine rules and before you start complaining it is best to remember those restrictions are there to protect you and your wonderful environment from a range of pests and diseases that we battle daily here in the Eastern Mainland.

Trident maple seedlings are supplied in a range of different sizes

Small: seedlings with trunks under 3mm thick only 50c each. These are still flexible so suit wiring and bending or as smaller trees in a group planting. Also useful for root grafting.

Medium: trunks 3-6mm diameter approx $1 each

Suit group plantings, growing on, threading through plates, fusion projects and more.

Large: trunks 6-10mm thick $2 each

Great for larger trunks in a group planting or to grow on for larger bonsai trunks in future.

There are a few trunks larger than 10mm. $5 each while they last. Please note that thicker does not always mean better. These will usually have a large trunk chop and may have less attractive roots than the smaller ones.

Forest packs $20. A mix of different sizes suitable to make your own group planting. Usually 3 large, 10 medium and 10 small trunks.

Bent trunks: While most of these feral seedlings are pretty straight some have bends. These bent ones could be better for approach grafts to roots or to grow small trunks with good low bends. Price as per trunk thickness above.

I am happy to select seedlings with specific characteristics if you let me know exactly what you require so the more info you can give me as to your plans the better I can tailor your order.

Japanese Maples: These are not as prolific so numbers are limited and most are smaller size than tridents above. All JM seedlings $1 each and you get whatever sizes come up.

Please don’t expect too much from these feral seedlings. They will be packed just as they come out of the garden as shown above so some have lots of roots, some have fewer but all should survive as tridents are really tough. Even those with just a very few roots have great survival rates. The roots are only trimmed roughly to fit in bundles. You can’t expect me to do detailed root work at those prices so that’s up to you when they arrive. Trunks will be chopped to fit into a 50-60 cm long pack. Further detailed pruning to size is also up to you.

Trees are sent bare root. I’ll bundle the trunks, wrap the roots in wet newspaper and wrap in a plastic bag to retain moisture. Trees will survive quite comfortably this way during delivery and for several weeks if necessary. On arrival please check and refresh root moisture if necessary. Trees can be stored in a cool place for a few weeks or even longer if you are not ready to pot up straight away. For longer term storage roots should be buried in damp soil, sand or sawdust until planting is possible.

Delivery: Please allow for the cost of delivery in addition to the tree price. Trees are sent direct to your mailing address via Auspost. Price depends on the size, weight and destination of the order so I’ll need to quote each package to give you the best price so please supply your delivery address or at very least a postcode when ordering so I can calculate a price for delivery. typical cost is likely to be: smaller packages under 1kg $15 regular mail or $20 express. More than 1 forest pack or larger numbers of individual trees could be $25 or $30 for delivery.

Email neil@shibuibonsai.com.au to place an order or to discuss your needs this season.