In the spring of 2017, a student of Ryan Neil had told me about Ryan’s approach to Ponderosa Pines. I am glad he shared this information with me because I was doing it wrong and it has changed the way I look at and approach Ponderosa Pine Bonsai. This was also great timing because I was in the process of buying this particular Ponderosa for an upcoming workshop with Bjorn Bjorholm being held in June of 2017. Bjorn had suggested to cut off the left side of the tree and to use the one main branch to bend down and around to set the structure. Some people had suggested the same thing to me and I just did not see what they saw. In the end, it was the best design possible for the tree.
Below are the images of the tree as I saw on Andy Smith’s website and after I received the tree from Speedy Delivery. Golden Arrow Bonsai
Bjorn had reiterated Ryan’s method. If you would like to read how to handle Ponderosa Pine Bonsai please see this article. Ponderosa Pine Management
These next images are of the tree at the workshop and at my house soon after and freshly watered.
I fertilized heavily with Sumo Cakes® Acidic Blend from spring all the way until I put the tree into storage for the winter. The needles grew long which increased the trees ability to gain strength.
The next two images are of the tree in July and September of 2017.
The needle length was long and I could already see that the following spring was going to be a show of that strength. Little did I know though.
These next two images are of the tree in April and May of this year (2018).
Here is the tree in June 2018 and July 2018.
Here is a small gallery of images taken in May of 2018. These show just how explosive the growth was. I was not expecting this amount of growth based on my previous experience with Ponderosa Pines. I am very excited to see how this tree progresses this year and next. This tree is already leaps and bounds ahead of my other Ponderosa Pines, because I am following the correct process of growing a Ponderosa Pine as a bonsai.
As this tree continues to add new growth the needles will get smaller. This tree is already a well-ramified bonsai from the fertilizing last year. I will continue to fertilize from early spring to late fall this year and most likely next year. I plan on taking a look at a repot in 2020 or a restyling in 2019. If I think its to early I will hold off and continue with the plan.
This is an image I took on August 22nd, 2018 showing last year needles Vs. this year needles. The shorter needles are this year needles.
This tree has lost all of its third-year needles. To be honest, there was not that many to lose. If you look back at the June 2017 photos you will see that there were just not that many needles.
Below are the September, October and November 2017 photos.
I had a repotting study group with Matt Reel this year (2019). I had decided that I wanted to get this tree repotted and rewired this year and took it along to this meeting just in case I had the opportunity to repot it. The chance came up and we repotted the tree. The pot I had was not appropriate for the tree, but it allowed Matt and I to do the angle change that was required for the future development of the tree.
This tree will be rewired this fall and will look great except for the pot. The pot that we used was an 80-year-old Keizan pot. More suitable for a Juniper but we used it because it worked for what we needed.
Bellow, you will see the roots of the tree. I was expecting coarse roots, but what we found was a lot of fine roots. We repotted it in equal parts Akadama, Lava, Pumice. In a few more years when I have the appropriate container for the tree, I will repot the tree again and I expect the roots to be more of a fine root mat. They were not bad this time around. This fall I will reset the branches and allow the tree to grow with minimal intervention from me.
Below are the images of the tree after it was successfully repotted.
Below is a photo from early summer.
The only work on the tree that has been done on the tree this year after the repot was a little cutting on some of the needles just to remove the vast amount of needle cast and one dose of Sumo Cackes® Root Elixir just to get the mycorrihzea jump started. No other fertilization has been done to the tree. I will wait until the third year needles start to fall off before I do any other work or fertilizing on this tree. (About 4-6 weeks)
I took this Ponderosa Pine to a workshop with Matt Reel in September 2019 to get help cleaning the tree up for styling. It was nice to see some of the decisions he made while cleaning. Below is the tree after I got home and wired it.