Here we go again, I just know I’m going to get all kinds of guff for this post.
Here’s the tree.
Yup, a sea grape…..I can hear it now,
“The leaves are too big! Why, oh why would anyone try to bonsai a sea grape?! The world is going to implode if you even attempt it and there’ll be earthquakes, floods, fire! Oh no no no no nooooo!”
Or something like that.
Are you ready?
Considering that it’s illegal to collect a sea grape from public land and you need specific and perpetual permission from a private land owner in Florida , I got the tree from a reputable and licensed nursery involved in the vegetative propagation of sea grapes for bonsai use. Not only cuttings and air layers but even from seed.
This tree looks like an air layer to me.
I’m not sure though.
It’s definitely not collected. Surely not.
The Latin name is Coccoloba uvifera, which means “like a grape and bearing grapes”. Kinda redundant but cool to say.
The grapes are edible and people make jam and wine out of it.
I’m waiting for a distilled product myself. You could call it Florida Sea Spirits.
I had flowers on my tree this year but no grapes. It’s dioecious, which means that you need a male and female tree to make the grapes, which only occur on the female tree.
My tree is evidently a strong, manly male, stout and burly, like me.
I’ve had the tree for a lot of years but recently I’ve neglected it.
It hasn’t been repotted in maybe two or three years. I can tell by the leaf size; they’re about half the size they should be and I haven’t tried reducing them at all.
And suddenly, there is an elephant in the room.
The leaf size is not conducive to bonsai, yet it is a very popular subject in Florida and beyond.
This is the biggest leaf on the tree right now.
I have seen them as big as dinner plates before….well, European dinner plates, not American size. I’d say about the size of a certain bonsai artist’s head.
Now, imagine this, if you can, reducing the needles on a Japanese black pine by 90%.
I’ve seen a tree with leaves the size of an American quarter (about an inch wide).
About as wide as the fleshy part of my middle finger above.
A feat like that is achieved using numerous defoliation sessions and keeping the tree pot bound.
Now, look at this leaf:
The chunk taken out of it was probably done by some insect having a meal. Look closely at where the damage was done….no browning, it doesn’t look damaged at all.
If you were so inclined, you could even trim the leaves to be smaller.
But that’s cheating though, that would be like cutting the needles on a black pine….whoops, they do that the day of a show or photo shoot, don’t they?
I’ve never showed a sea grape so I’ve never had the need to trim the leaves, but I just might.
Ya’ never know.
With this tree today I’m going to repot and restyle.
And get rid of the ugly orange pot too…..anyone wanna buy a pot?
You know the drill: Defoliate.
And comb out the roots.
It was root bound. The soil looks about like the mix when I was experimenting with Oil Dry. Surprisingly, it isn’t completely broken down.
Oil Dry is a calcined clay that is softer (not as high fired) than the athletic field variety (like Turface) and therefore shouldn’t maintain integrity as long.
It’s kinda like low fired akadama in its crumble factor but it’s grey in color.
The product is made to absorb oil but it’s also labeled for soil amendment use. Most bonsai people poo poo it because it breaks down but, duh, so does the miracle soil, akadama instead of orange.
Look what I found in the soil…breakfast!
Lizard eggs, anole lizard eggs to be precise.
That’s good for about 6 calories, I just need to find about a hundred more and I’ll have a good meal.
No, I didn’t eat them, anoles are good insect control. We have two types, the native green and the brown Cuban. There are many people who hate the brown ones because they are supplanting the green ones. I think it’s just racism. Everyone knows that green anoles are superior in every way. Better music (Pat Boone man, alright!) better food (American cheese and Wonderbread dude), better hair…..ok, anoles don’t have hair.
I have both flavor anoles in my yard so I won’t destroy these eggs. I’ll replant them in the ground.
Maybe I’ll get an anole tree.
Like I said earlier, I’m changing the pot.
I don’t think it’s the best pot for the tree but it’s better than the orange one….which is still for sale, best offer, any offer.
Maybe I’ll post it on the Facebook page Bonsai Classified. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a great resource for selling and buying without the onerous eBay fees. And they are selling real bonsai, not those overpriced, production mallsai. Check it out.
The sea grape looks good in its new home.
Some minor trimming and tip pruning…
One more branch and….YEOWWW!!!
How can I continue?!
I’ll be maimed for life, I’ll have to become a wheelchair salesman again…oh, woe is me!
I will just have to soldier on, this tree needs wire.
Lots of wire!
They say blood is good for the soil…
Have you ever seen “Little Shop of Horrors”?
Feed me Seymour!
I manage, in my incapacitated and dripping state, to finish wiring the tree.
Then I run out to the DG (Dollar General store) and get some peroxide and some superglue.
That’s right dear readers, superglue.
I learned a long time ago that, if you go for stitches in the emergency room, 8 times out of 10 they’ll use superglue.
And I’m not paying a $399 bill when I can do that myself.
Superglue wound care procedure:
Clean thoroughly, use a scrub brush if you need to.
Dump the hydrogen peroxide into the wound.
Remember that there are children in the house, so the screaming and cursing must be quelled. Do so biting a stout leather belt between the teeth.
Apply the superglue and squeeze the wound closed. Be liberal with your application rate.
Don’t glue other fingers together.
All fixed up!
Here’s the before:
The cut was about a half an inch deep.
I had made a video of it talking and singing, but my wife won’t let me post it.
She’s probably smarter than me.
And that’s about it….whoops, forgot to take a finished pic of the tree (all of the work was done at the club meeting last Friday).
Here is tree today.
It hasn’t changed since Friday, at least not that you can see.
Sea grape: not an obvious choice for bonsai but, with the miraculous leaf reduction possible, worth a try.
Flesh wound: superglue $1.99, ER visit$399.99
Please shower all praise in the comment section below and direct all criticism to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, Owen Reich can handle it.
See ya’ in the funny pages!
P.S. That’s not Owen’s real email. It’s close though. He may not appreciate any emails as such my readers might send….if you do though, say you are complaining about Ryan Neil, or Peter Tea or someone other than me.
Tee hee hee!!