We have a tray:

We have some trees:

We have a strong beer:Tray-tree-beer? Will we have bonsai? Seems likely. We might need more beer, even if it is a German one and not Japanese. 

Let’s review. Tray:Made by a retired Lieutenant Paramedic from the Orlando Fire Deptartment.  He just recently passed away. I never met him but I’m told I would have liked him. A good friend of Rick’s. You’ll meet Rick a little later in a nice video snippet. I love this kind of tray. Too bad it’s not mine. It belongs to the CFBC.

  Trees:Five small bald cypress, taxodium distichum, purchased from Dragontree Bonsai down in Palm City, grown from seed by da’ Man hisself, Robert Pinder. I know him and like him. You would too, give him a visit if you’re in the area. I got about forty cypress from him for a Central Florida Bonsai Club program taught by the amazing Rick Jeffery. I mentioned him up there about a hundred words ago. Here’s a video of the aftermath, Rick is the distinguished, mustachioed gentleman with the white hair. 

We put these together for the raffle table at the upcoming Bsf/Abs Convention here in Orlando in May on Memorial Day weekend. We didn’t use all the trees so I got homework.  

So, tonight is a forest kind of night at The Nook. 

With some good strong beer. For those who are interested, and why not if you ain’t, this is a style of beer called “urbock”. Basically, it’s a bock beer which has been smoked (smoking beer? I thought you drank it?!)  A “bock” beer means that it is a lager that is of a higher gravity (more alcohol) thats brewed during the winter for consumption in spring. Being higher gravity it takes more time for the yeast to convert the sugars (malt) to alcohol. The monks made it to get one through the fasts that are associated with Lent. There are also double (doppel) and triple bocks for your, um…religious observances. They tend to be very malty and dark though, in recent years, they have been adding more hops to balance them out. I’m sure that the hopheads will come out with an IPA version soon (though an IPA is an ale and a bock is a lager…..don’t get me started on that differentiation. Different yeast and fermentation times/processes etc.). I must make a note, the two products most Americans associate with the word “bock” are Shiner Bock, from Texas, and Amberbock, from Missouri. The former is just a slightly stronger pilsner (amber lager if you insist), in my opinion, and the latter, as my beer school instructor liked to say, is neither amber, nor bock (Amberbock was once called Michelob Dark, but at that time, Americans were not liking anything with the word “dark” in it. It was all about Budlight or MillerLite and all that crap, so the rebranding guys got on the job and came up with the catchy name, “Amberbock”). Enough about that. This beer, of which I am enjoying responsibly, is a finely crafted,German made beer with a strong malt flavor, balanced well with the hops and the smokiness. The high alcohol (7%) is not a detriment to the flavor, you can hardly tell it’s there (here’s one last beer factoid, the most popular beer in Germany, by sales, is……..sigh, Budlight. Sadly). 

Before I pass out, ahem, let’s get this forest planted. 

Prepare the pot!Screen

L shaped staples.  

Extra tie downs. 

The soil mix I’m using is a combo of my regular bonsai mix-The only difference in it and previous mixes (just use the search bar up top, you’ll find several blog posts on soil) is the addition of some pumice, the white particles. 

Since these are cypress (a swamp tree) I’m cutting it 50/50 with my regular nursery mix. Which is 50/50 pine bark and perlite. 

It should hold water and allow for good root growth. 
To prepare the trees….

 ….I’m just going to tease out some of the soil and work the roots down. 

Some base soil…

I’m not cutting off many roots at all. 

Maybe just some high ones

I want the roots to become an interconnected, tangled mat, almost like one tree, as the forest matures. 

Now you will see why I put so many tie downs. This is the biggest trunk. Usually we start with it. They call it the number one tree. Whomever they happen to be. 

You see that there’s not much variation in the tree sizes, I got stuck with the leftovers. 

The only challenge with making a believable forest is to avoid what Rick calls the “picket fence” effect. All your trees lined up in a row, like a fence. Most beginners (and many experienced) do this often. The trick: plant your trees in clumps. This one has three. 

All those wires are kinda important. Tie them down tight. Any movement after will damage the roots. 

Tighten on top….

And bottom. 

The placement is made of two clumps, I had only five trees (though the multitrunk is considered more than one, technically). I spaced them on each side of the pot to give a “trail” look to it. When it’s dressed up (which I’m not going to do) you can add moss and stones to give the impression of that trail or a dry riverbed or whatnot. If I had more trees I’d stick with the two clump composition but shove as many trees together as I could. 

And, as you might have guessed, I don’t care if it’s an odd or even number, as long as your groupings aren’t symmetrical or in straight lines, it’s fine. Only those who drink gin and tonic have the time to count trees. 

And the spacing between them is pretty natural. I can fit only two fingers here. 

But almost my whole hand here. Dirty fingers…..dirty boy. 

Back filled with soil, now I need to fix the tree heights. The thickest one should be the tallest. 

That’s about right. 

Some fertilizer and a top dressing of chopped sphagnum moss, to help retain moisture. It helps to have a cypress on the label of your fertilizer. 

One should wear gloves when handling sphagnum moss…..If I had regular moss I’d make it all pretty for you, but, alas,  I can’t grow moss for some reason. That yellow/greenish granular stuff is a pre-emergent weed preventer. I hate pulling weeds. 

And viola!Yeah, I know, not much to look at. 

How’s this? Looks kinda natural. The photo flattens it out unfortunately (compare the aerial shots above to this, you know it’s not as flat as it looks here), but that’s ok. If you go to the joint Abs/Bsf convention in May (Go here for info!) you can buy some raffle tickets and win it, and fix whatever problems you see. It won’t hurt my feelings. 

And Bob’s your uncle! See ya’!

7 thoughts

  1. I like the looks of that beer……….I also have a hankering for a gin and tonic with some elderberry flower…………yummy….I’m a botanical kind of guy……….Rob would enjoy your blog………


  2. I was looking at your bonsai soil for this mix, and was curious if this soil heavy mix will work in other types of plants. I also live in Fl and have a few live oaks and junipers ready for their first training pot and was wondering if such a soil heavy mix will work as long as I mix it with some porous stone….
    and Ps I tried to grow my cypresses into a bonsai but they were too good looking of a tree haha i can’t bring myself to bonsai them


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