The cracked-pot soliloquy or, “Do ya’ have concrete between your ears?” 

I know, I promised you a rose garden, ummm…sorry..I mean… a buttonwood post as the next post, but we here at Adam’s Art and Bonsai (Adamaskwhy Entertainments Inc.) have decided that it might be time to branch out into the various other online media available to a creative and ambitious soul. I’m thinking online classes, virtual stylings, Skype or FaceTime sessions et al…the first step in this endeavor will be the production of a YouTube video or three. And we think the subject of buttonwood bonsai might be a good place to begin, so I’m saving it for that. Stay tuned, “Coming Soon!”, as they say. 

Anyway, the subject of today’s blog will be just as riveting as the buttonwood I have for the video. Some cool Brazilian Raintrees for your consideration. 

You’ve seen them all before in various blogposts. 
The above one was a carving and styling session. 

This one was a group project of the original NoNáMé Bonsai study group. The founding group that has splintered irreparably, I’m afraid. 

That’s ok though. I still have the tree and my dignity. Well, maybe not my dignity. But I’m feeling muuuch better now. 
This next one’s been in a post or three before too, it recently lost most of a carved Jin during one of my several hospitalizations. I believe what really happened was the ghost of my lost, malfunctioning section of colon, in a fit of pique because it was no longer allowed to be a part of the magnifigance that is my body, transported its spirit the 3.8 miles to the nursery, blocked itself off until the digestive gasses were sufficient enough, and farted in the general direction of the tree, knocking it off the bench (raintrees tend to act as sails in high winds, such as Florida thunderstorms and the vindictive flatus actions of displaced poltergeist sigmoid colons). I might be wrong about that though. Perhaps one of my enemies did it. Not that I have enemies worth the name. 

Let’s begin with it. 

I’ve been playing with concrete again. Tell me what you think? 

Roll it out like clay.  

Plop it into a vessel.  

I’ve recently decided that three holes are better than two (I’ve always claimed that I’m a two hole guy. In fact, I eat more chicken than any man ever seen, you know……the first to  get that reference gets a T-shirt ). Three holes make for good drainage and oxygen exchange.

Let it cure a few days and……

One pot, pretty cool. I’m getting better with that ShapeCrete stuff. I should contact them about an endorsement deal. I made another pot a few months ago with what I call the Sexual Chocolate™ finish on it. 

It’ll be perfect for this tree. 

Let me get these two repotted quick and then get to some creative destruction. Heehee. 

These two came from the same tree. There was a hurricane that whipped through Florida (Charlie) a few years ago and busted out some limbs off of a BRT that bonsai guy extraordinaire Mike Cartrett had in the ground in his backyard. Being the frugal and resourceful guy he is, Mike stuck them in pots and they took as big cuttings. 


I, being the carver I am, carved. They are two of my best raintrees I have. Thank you Mike! He lived in West Palm Beach but had since moved up to one of the Carolinas. Don’t worry about that tree in the ground, it’s been air-layered extensively and multiple cuttings were made and ultimately  was collected from the ground by Guaracha and Javier (you’ve met them before) and resides at Vagos Bonsai in Tampa. Big ass tree, Imperial size. Epic. I’ll be featuring it and some more trees propagated off of it soon. Maybe even a field trip. 

Back to the two trees. The pots they’re in now aren’t bad, in fact, they are of the most excellent quality. 

This first was made by my friend Chad, who is a fantasy art painter who’s had his work featured on fantasy novels. 

He got into bonsai and then pottery and created some subtle and elegant pots. He’s since retired from that, to the worlds loss, but I, at least, have one of his works. His art can be seen Here, if you click around you’ll find the full site but his bonsai themed works are amazing. 

The other pot is one by Bellotta Enterprises made by my good friend Paul Katich. I love this pot. 

He is one of the few American potters that can re-create works for commission. If you see one he’s made but the current owner is too stingy to part with it, Paul has the notes with the clay body, the kiln temp, and the glaze compounds he’s used, and can make another one. A true artist. I’m switching out the trees and pots not because I don’t like them but because my vision has changed. I’m getting beyond the traditional pottery styles we’ve all been using (I’ve been influenced some by Mike Hagedorn and Rob Kempinski a little). 


I’m having to mound the trees soil a bit but that’s ok. The second one is still developing a more dense root system. 

My usual modus operandi is to defoliate (to reduce transplanting stress) and style/wire at the repot time but I’m trying an experiment. You’ll notice that the soil is covered by sphagnum moss. It’s there to keep moisture in the top layer of soil, which is what usually dries out first. With raintrees, my experience is that when you repot BRTs, they’ll drop all their leaves.  Let’s see how this helps. 

It’s actually a pretty traditional technique used extensively in Japan. Not sure why it’s not more widespread than it is here, but its growing in popularity. It’s ugly as sin. But aren’t we all now…..speaking of which….It’s time for that “creative destruction” I hinted at. 

I’ve always disliked the pots I’ve had to use for this BRT. 

 Mostly because the surface roots are ugly. Well, Ima ’bout to turn lemonade into margaritas. Or something like that. 

I found this pot at a retail discounter store (they sell last seasons wares at discounts, mostly name brands that are high dollar) 

It’s not a bad pot, not really high quality but usable. Until I dropped a viewing stone on it. 

And done and busted it. The pot, not the stone. 

Well, me, being the cheap bastard I am, had an idea. 

That’s right, with my trusty Jin pliers….


…. I made a mess. 

 Before I pot up the last raintree, some styling. 


My repotting scythe. 


Can’t help myself, showing off some nitrogen fixing nodules. Sweet!

And plop! Into the new pot. 

I’m thinking, if I can get just a little more ramification, and I can figure out a good stand and display, this Brazilian raintree might be a part of my table at the Winter  Silhouette show this December. I’ll be giving a demo there (the 3rd and 4th in Kannapolis at the North Carolina Research Campus, you should go). I’m not sure what my program should be, I’m taking suggestions. 

See you next post, or maybe on YouTube. 

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in Horticulture and growing, maintenance, rare finds, roots, sculpture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The cracked-pot soliloquy or, “Do ya’ have concrete between your ears?” 

  1. Anton says:

    Love your blog, I came here from reddit, I’ve been keeping busy reading all your previous posts atm. You have one hell of a way to keep a man reading! Thanks for all the great info! Btw is it a Doors Back Door Man reference? 🙂

  2. ed hake says:

    I like your cracked pot tree, great way to reuse, recycle a damaged pot. But I think the tree should be set just an inch or two higher.

    • Display_Name says:

      I agree! just an inch or two higher I feel like would finish it off. I mean, obviously that does not make or break the design – it looks AWESOME, but I do thing maybe next repotting raising it a bit would really finish it off.

  3. sunsineaudio says:

    umm… but back door man was actually written by willie dixon for howlin’ wolf :/

  4. John Beckemeier says:

    So did the sphagnum prevent the tree from dropping its leaves?

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