One hot and humid afternoon in Jupiter, the legendary Florida bonsai pioneer, Jim Moody, got a packet of seeds in the mail. They were from his sister, we’ll call her Felicitous because I don’t know her name (I’m not sure it was his sister either….bear with me) who happened to be in Brazil seeing the sites, sampling the local fare, dancing with the Carnivale and what not. She had seen an odd and interesting tree and thought, “Gee, Jim likes trees, maybe I’ll find some seeds from this bizarre tree I see before me” so she did and then mailed them to Florida (maybe she was an attaché to the U.S. Diplomat to Brazil. Or perhaps an undercover C.I.A agent searching for evidence that the Soviets were supplying street vendors with counterfeit Gucci purses to cause deflation in the luxury handbag market, hence hastening the totally inevitable transition from cronyism capitalism to cronyism communism. Maybe..) All this was at a time when the plant/seed import restrictions (as well as Gucci purses) into the U.S. were a bit more lax.
Anyway, he only had a few seeds from that packet germinate and, of those, only one plant (of which we call now, the Brazilian Raintree) developed that muscled, flattened trunk we think of when we think of a BRT. (Although there are actually two varieties on the market. One with the flattened trunk, which doesn’t flower much, if at all, and a rounded trunk variety that does flower often and sets seed. The first are reproduced asexually through cuttings and air layers. The second is from seed…usually). This tree is of the first kind.
I got it from my good friend Mike Cartrett of Palm Beach Bonsai. It was a limb that had broken off a BRT growing in his backyard when Florida experienced the three, back-to-back hurricanes that began with hurricane Charlie. Mike rooted it and a few years later I got it from him, as well as this one from this post: They were both purchased at the Kawa Bonsai Society’s January show, Joy of Bonsai, usually a good show, depending on the teachers.
Let’s start listing the negatives of the BRT and why one should hate these trees. Die back. This is the number one reason. All this deadwood is the result of the BRT’s penchant for a branch, that’s been pruned to no green, dying back into the trunk.
As I work, I’ll continue the bashing. Using a knife, I try to define the dead from the live veins.
The tree will also dieback from the roots upward (it is very much like a juniper and less like a tropical tree) Which might be why the live vein is only about an inch thick here.
I’m getting some interesting textures on some places but it’s kinda boring in others. I’m rushing the process. I have to get the kids from school soon and, damn it’s beginning to rain. I’ll stop working now and get in my van to get them I have too much on my mind and the wood grain is running through my head and why is it dying back so much and I have to leave for Erik Wigert’s in two days and can I handle my ileostomy by myself, can I handle the workload, the never ending question of how I’m doing, fine and you or you look good or so what happened or are you healing and my phone battery is low and the kids need picking up and here’s a stop sign I stop and I need to plugs be phone in and next thing I know BANG!
And though it looks like blood all over the hood, it’s just transmission fluid. Might as well be blood. My car is dead.
Getting back to the tree, the next day, I’m not sure I want to continue. Too much is still going on. But I feel I should finish.
This one suffered whe I was hospitalised, this is from drying out.
I need to defoliate and push some new growth.
And fire That’ll help clear my mind. Fire cleanses the soul.
Unfortunately, the ensuing lime sulphur smell lingers. Reminds me that they would throw lime on dead bodies. And sulphur, or sulfur, brimstone, for the devil.
Who is in the details, or is it God in the details? That’s bizarre.
Just one wire and I’m done with this hated tree. This beloved tree. It’s kept me sane for a bit longer as I take care of it. I wish life were as easy as the known challenges that a Brazilian Raintree poses for me. Water, fertilize, wire on, wire off. Leave some green and a stub when pruning. You do this and you get this. Musings and ramblings make the prose flow but convey less or more.
I think I’m done for now, see you next post.