Can you say “Roadtrip!” ? No, I wish we drove in this.   

The Central Florida Bonsai Club has an annual fieldtrip in August where we visit Mary Madison’s home in Lake Placid Florida.  Mary is, indisputably, the Buttonwood Queen, owing to the fact that probably 80% of all buttonwoods that have been displayed in high profile shows were first collected from the wild by her. She specializes in rescuing the trees before the bulldozer rips them out of the ground to make way for another retirement condo or timeshare highrise. 

I carpooled with Sandy, Don, and Dick (or Richard, I’m not sure what he went by). Here’s Don riding his scooter at Mary’s, perusing the wares.  

 That’s Richard in the way back.  

Then we have Judy in the back, Nanette in the front and the indomitable Paul Pikel sporting orange.   
 From front to back, the legend herself, Mary, Sandy, and Judy. And some heavy clouds just beginning.  Look at that deadwood on the tree Sandy is holding! Looks like a snake about to strike.  
I tried to warn Paul about not wearing a hat like Mary. The second pic is just moments later. 

Talk about a red neck! That’s gonna hurt. 
August in Florida is no joke. 

The traditional meal Mary serves when we have a group fieldtrip is…. 

 ….hot dogs, beans, potato salad and chips. And beer. Truly a feast for for royalty. And don’t tell me anything about not eating clean, Mary is in her eighties and she still goes into the swamps and mangroves to collect trees. Although I will say that the yellow gunk on the dog  is a local sweet pickle relish she likes. 

She also dared me to try this atomic-green habanero suace she likes.  

Just a little dab..   Actually, that’s damn good. Maybe Mary’s found the secret to longevity in this sauce? 

There’s nothing like talking with a legend over beer and meat formed into tubes. She even stepped up this year and offered us Sam Adams and Yeungling instead of the usual Miller Lite. Come to think of it, this beer might be left over from a certain person who visits Mary. Well, if it is, I’ll gladly drink his beer. Bottoms up!

After lunch Mary decided to give a short demo for the group.    
 Cleaning the deadwood Some big cuts with big tools.   

Sandy, wondering if this would root. Mary said, “Sure, you go ‘head and do it though. At my age, I don’t need to be taking cuttings” A Q&A session after the work.  Mary will use mostly organics in her soil for buttonwood because, she says, they love to be wet. 

The Queen!   She wanted me to say that she didn’t wire the tree, so use your imagination. 

So what did I get? I got this: 

 And what the hell is it? I went all the way to Mary Madison’s home, she of the buttonwoods, and I come home with a…….winged elm. And, because I have a hole in my abdominal wall and people think I’m an invalid, the guy on the scooter drags my tree to the car for loading.   Let’s clean it up and cut it back.  

Back at The Nook
  We had to cut the tree out of the ground at Mary’s.   
It’s a little weedy.   You can see why I wanted it now.  The elm was collected by Mary up in Ocala.  

  My plan is for a broom like look to the tree so I cut back all the lower growth.   
  Now to clean up the top.   
 It wants to grow straight up.    
I just need one branch here.   

There we go.  

I could cut it here.   But then I’d loose that elm look I’m going for.  

I’ll cut this one off.   But leave a nub to encourage a new shoot.   

 And cut these down a bit.  
I’m not sure of the final branches quite yet, it will depend on what grows. 

I add some soil to the bottom of the old pot.   

 Some soil on top with fertilizer.   
And lots of water.  Next year I’ll start on styling it. Which it needs, seriously. And I did leave a few leaves on it this time.   

At least it’s not a sharp stick in your eye. I think the next post will be a quick one on a buttonwood I got at Mary’s two years ago and somehow I missed styling it last year. Here’s a sneak peek.  

See ya’

10 thoughts

  1. Two of my favorite passions: selling RVs and working on bonsai! What year VW is that? incredible! I’ve got a 1962 lego T1 replica in my office, haaha


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