How’s this one?
And then this one:
Joking aside, today you’ll be seeing three different holly trees, for your amusement and peruse-ment. Let’s begin with the first one, an ilex crenata “soft touch”.
The foliage is very much like my favorite holly, the dwarf yaupon (which is tree number two above) but it’s leaf is more of a chromium oxide green than the Hooker’s green of the yaupon. And the leaf has more of that curved quality most most hollies have.
It’s a slow grower too. It took me years to find a trunk like this in a nursery.
It is considered a Japanese holly but not the usual deciduos one we see all the time with those awesome red berries (which is ilex serrata).
I’m not really sure how well this variety will respond to bonsai techniques but, using reasoning and logic (I know, I know, where has that gotten me in the past? Remember when I said it was foolish to use copper on ficus because you’d be removing it in a month? Yeah, that bit of logic got me in big time trouble…..) it is safe to say that this tree will respond to pruning, else it wouldn’t be sold as a hedge plant. Sooooooo……just a little pruning…..but first, I’m hoping the roots can handle some cutting too. And if I kill it, I have those two more left .
Let’s see the root ball…
The “nebari”, such as it is, needs some cleaning up.
Turning to the top, I think I’ll reduce it a bit to make it easier to move around.
Good. Getting there.
And it does have to fit in a bonsai pot after all. This is a bonsai blog.
A little wire, some soil and…. Ready for my close up Mr. DeVille!
I’m hoping this survives the treatment. Really. I’m pretty sure it can handle the top pruning; that whole hedge thing. It’s the root pruning in worried about. I’ve handled several types of hollies but not a crenata yet. We shall see.
To sooth those traumatised by that last tree, let’s work with the ilex cornuta next, a Chinese holly.
This is an interesting (to me and a few I’m sure) specimen for this type of tree. It, too, is a very common hedge plant (usually planted where you wish to keep people out of, like under windows and such), so the trunks tend to be, well…trunk like. This looks to me like it could possibly be a root cutting even. Don’t ask about the pot, I was traded this plus a few other trees for some more finished bonsai. I think the pot came from a thrift store. With the right tree it could be a masterpiece work of ceramic.
I do have experience with this variety of ilex. I won’t defoliate fully and I’ll keep green tips. It likes to shed branches and I don’t have many to lose.
These leaves above, with their vicious spiky thorns on the margins, are the origin of that name. Merciless. If you compare the last two pics you’ll notice that the tree can display two types of leaves. If you let it grow the less mean-looking leaves will present. If you’re trimming often you get the evil ones. It might be a defensive response, but I’m not sure. They will reduce in size by about a half if you keep up the trimming and increase ramification enough.
This is why I think it’s a root structure in working with.
As much as I like the pot it’s in, I’ll need to change it.
I don’t have the pot I want so I’ll use a terra cotta pot for training purposes.
It has good roots, very fibrous, and it’s in good bonsai soil too.
It needs an angle change.
Oh yeah. Let’s get it moved.
Next: the big boy. This one is full of fire ants. I hate fire ants. All those red/orange specks are ants. They had a veritable colony in the roots of this tree. Some liberal spraying of napalm and a lit match later…….actually, just insecticidal soap is all I used to kill them. They may seem like super-ants, being able to build living bridges and floating ant islands and all, but, individually, they are just as fragile as you and I. If an ant colony goes to war, it’s only strategy is attrition. When they run out of the poor workers, the queen loses. There’s a lesson there. Anyway, die fire ants, die!
So now you are wondering “Uhhhh…..What the hell?” Right?
Well. The second holly will be the quickest to look like a bonsai. It’s easy to see where it’s going.
And just to show that I know what I am talking about with ilex, here’s a pretty one I just cut back for the spring.
I’ll provide updates for y’all as the trees grow. Or die. See you later.