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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heat Stress Relief for Bonsai

Here's some tips on how to get your bonsai through these horrifically high summer temperatures.
The first thing to do is throw some shade cloth over the top of your collection. If you have some nice shady trees in your landscape you can just move them under shade. Easy enough. If that's not an option, then just raid your linen closet and spread some sheets over the trees. Come on, everybody has old sheets that can be repurposed for bonsai shade. I prefer pale green or blue sheets. Pound some stakes in the ground. Anything will do to elevate the sheets off the canopy's of the trees...rebar, old broom handles, bamboo poles...Use some plastic ties to attach the sheets.

If you want something a little bit more sophisticated, get 3 or 4 joints of 1/4" pvc pipe, and a joint of 3/4" pipe. Cut the 3/4" into 8 to 10" sections. Cap one end. Pound the capped ends into wet ground (its easier to pound if its wet dirt) leaving a couple of inches out of the ground. Put one on each corner of your collection of trees.  Take the 1/4" pipe, insert it into a 3/4" piece, bend it and put the other 1/4" end into the opposite corner. Repeat this until you have a series of hoops. Throw the sheeting over the hoops. Secure with plastic ties or clamps.

This is easy, quick, and flexible. You can put it up and take it down whenever you'd like. I like to shower the sheets for evaporative cooling. They will keep the trees 5 to 7 degrees cooler which is just enough difference to improve the quality of your trees.

Before I sign off I want to share another thing with you. If you're buying your el cheapo wantabe bonsai at big box stores, for heavens sake do the poor tree a favor and remove the gravel that's glued on top of the pot. Gads! That's a terrible thing to do to a tree. Its half dead before your even pay for it. You can't ever water it properly with that concrete-like layer of aggregate on top of the soil. Oxygen can't reach the roots. Oxygen to roots will be a topic I'll talk about at another time. I do alot of damage control here at my shop with customers who have purchased one of these trees and are having problems with it. I just had another couple in today asking for help. They had bought their tree from some mass marketer, I forget which one, and all the leaves were turning brown and falling off.

Growers who sell to mass marketers ship their plant products on pallets in the back of long haul semi trucks. That's the reason they glue the aggregate onto the top of the pots. The little trees would never make it to market if one piece after bumping around in the back of a truck for several days. When the truck would reach its destination, the dock worker would open the doors all they would find would be a heap of uprooted trees, soil, and broken pots. So they're glued.  Its a cheap way to ship. However, the chance of getting a healthy tree is slim to none. When I ship a tree I hand wrap each individual tree and then they are wrapped again in bubble wrap. Sometimes with expensive, older specimen trees they have a third wrapping of single walled corrugated cardboard. When I prepare my trees for shipping they are wrapped for nuclear attack. So anyway, take the clued gravel off the potting mix. The tree just might recover.

So that's it for today. I'm signing off. Take care and remember...Promote Harmony...Grow Bonsai.      

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welcome to Bonsai Lady's Blog

"The artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture." quote by Jean Cocteau.
Well since I'm a horticulturist and because I grow bonsai I'll lay claim to being qualified to discuss plants as well as art. I'm not too sure I agree with the above quote. My business is located in a village full of weird eccentric artists and that's about all they know how to talk about. Art and whatever the Complaint of the Day is.
I'm happy to report that my trees are  non verbally communing just fine. They're dealing with the heat better than I am. Each evening when the sun slides down below the horizon and the evening breeze picks up, I go out into my garden and water, water, water. We've had months of bone dry scorching days with 100 plus degrees. The sun's radiation is so strong that it stings uncovered skin. It's hard enough to deal with much less dwell on it. I prefer not to do either but I have no choice about the heat. I skip the weather reports and I've taken down all thermometers. I know how hot it is. I don't need to hear any more about it. Knowing the temperature doesn't make it any easier to live with. I like to putter in my garden.The greenery softens the heat and I imagine its cooler. I pull a few weeds, do some light pruning, rearrange things. My garden is like my living room. I'm always moving things around. Actually my garden IS my living room. I spend more time living in my garden than in my living room. I have one of those living rooms that no one uses. It just looks nice.
Its a useless waste of space. Well that's not fair. It is a space for much of my art stuff.

Currently, I'm working on some Texas Ebony bonsai. They're related to the Mesquite. The South Texas heat doesn't faze them. They are as heat hardy as the Esperanza. They just keep blooming. The hotter it gets the more they bloom. "HEAT, WHAT HEAT? Heat don't mean nothin' to me. I'll just bloom like crazy anyway." Their bloom is this little buff colored brushy thing. It shows up nicely against the dark green foliage. When the bloom blasts it is replaced with a tiny cluster of green berries.
There's a hurricane moving into the Carribean right now but it doesn't look like it will move in our direction. It doesn't look strong enough either. That's the only thing that will shove off this high pressure dome that's stuck on top of us, a nice big hurricane. But South Texas eats hurricanes like they where nachos. They come tearing across the Gulf acting real bad, like they mean business, but then when they reach the Gulf Coastline they slam up against it like they've run into a brick wall. Very few make it inland. The Texas coast just man handles them. It takes a really macho one for San Antonio to even feel it. San Antonio is very far back away from the coast and is butted up against the Edwards Plateau. Hurricanes have to trans hundreds of miles of coastal plain called the Wild Horse Desert. The flat expansive ranch land has a thick covering of brush, sage, cactus, and Mesquite that scours a storm system like a brillo pad cuts through grease on an iron skillet.It slows them down, throws them off course, and busts them up. So we'll just have to wait for the seasonal shift. We'll wait for the planet to dip away from the trajectory of the sun. As St. Augustine said, "Patience is the companion of wisdom."

 Bare with me. I'm just getting the handle on this blog thing. If I can share anything about plants, trees, current or historic San Antonio, or Texas, or just general blab let me know. Everyone has an opinion on something.      

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to Bonsai Lady's Blog

Just getting started. We will back with more blogs later. Keep fallowing us for more on Bonsai and San Antonio!