Today, for your narrative and viewing pleasure, we have an: Aussie pine, she oak, ironwood, horsetail tree, beefwood, whistling tree, and every combination of the above. Here in Florida we call the casuarina equisetifolia an Australian pine. Some call it a filthy invasive that should be eradicated. There is evidence for that, as some research has been done showing where the leaf litter acts like a pre-emergent herbicide, preventing seeds from germinating. This is good for weeds, but not native species that are endangered on the Florida coasts.

But the specimen we have today is a collected one, dug up and removed from nature, proactively, and responsibly, making way for native species to flourish…..or something like that. All I know is that, in a bonsai pot, it’s not reproducing in nature anymore.

I’ve let it grow since I’ve gotten it…..Maybe too much.

I’m on my way to the Central Florida Bonsai Club’s monthly byot workshop. And I can get it in….damn it, where are my loppers?

This month’s meeting is graciously hosted by Mr. Ben, in his studio at Agresta Gardens.

I promise I’ll do a few blog posts on his trees as soon as it’s a little more hospitable outside. It’s a little too hot at the moment and I melt easily.

I’m sitting on a couch, in air conditioned comfort, spinning the tree to figure out the best front.

Hmm…uh huh…not bad…cool…

It’s going into that pot, a big mica.

The big fluff ball is either Luna or Nova. One of Ben’s Newfoundland puppies.

Here’s both of them. Nova on the left, Luna on the right. Big dogs. Photo by Ben. Yup, they’re puppies.

Hmmmm……yeah, the front is on this side….

The “front” is usually around a 5-10 degree arc, and it changes as the tree grows and matures. Surprisingly, there have been seriously vicious flame wars “discussing” the front of a tree.

Relax guys, they’re just little trees…

Time to chop. I think I need some liquid inspiration.

Damn good stuff. Looks like turpentine in that can, but tastes like a crisp autumn afternoon, the cool wind bringing up goosebumps on your arms as it blows through the brightly colored leaves piled up under the trees.

Kinda like the mess I just made on Ben’s floor, except the color, and it’s air conditioning and a fan blowing on me.

And there are no goosebumps.Just sweat and hubris.

But that’s how we do it here in the F L A. Chop what you don’t need, regrow the rest.

At least on this Australian pine that’s been sitting neglected in a corner of my nursery for three years.

Rob Kempinski, one of the gentlemen who collected this about 6 years ago (Reggie Purdue was the other one) looked across the room (that’s him in the pic below on the extreme right, just at the edge of the scene..) and said it looks like one of the towers in The Lord of the Rings.

The CFBC has two meetings a month, the first one (on the second Friday just to confuse you) is usually a formal meeting, with a guest artist or special program. The second meeting (on the fourth weekend, whatever day works best) is a byot workshop where you can bring ten trees, or none, and just watch. If you need help or advice, there’s someone there to help, or if you can help a beginner, that works too.

That’s Bruce below, sweeping up his mess. Wish someone would sweep up my mess in The Nook.

That’s Aaron and Ben (our host today).. We welcome everyone as a guest to our meetings, though we might start wondering if you will join after 3-4 visits. No pressure though.

Our website is, which has our calendar and special events on it.

Aaron, myself, and Ben. Photo by Rob.

Back to the tree, here’s the rootball. It was planted in a regular potting soil mix after collection.

The raked out rootball.

The pot, ready for wire.

My boots, and the tree.

Since Rob has only seen the movies, I had to tell him the tower he thinks it looks like is Minas Morgul, the citadel in the Lord of The Rings where the Nazgul live.

It kinda does. I like it.

My soil (this is the link to my newest soil recipe).

Since I’m at Ben’s, I’ll just use his fertilizer. It’s kinda like osmocote but it’s called Suncote, in this product.

That’s Ben, flexing for the ladies….

And some sphagnum moss on the exposed roots. I had to sit the tree a little higher on the right than even I like.

And the real reason I took this tree to the workshop: it now fits!

Yes, I know….I need to clean my car.

And yes, I could use a larger vehicle than a PT Loser, but, in its defense, if I remove the back seats there’s plenty of room. And, admit it, you always wanted one and now you’re jealous of my good fortune at owning this finely designed piece of machinery from the engineers at the Chrysler corporation. Ahem.

The Aussie pine didn’t really have any styling done except for the chop job. So no glamour shots today. But I’ll update as it grows and I get some wire on it.

What’s next? I take requests, if you’d like to see something I haven’t done, or need an update on.

10 thoughts

  1. very nice pics!!! However, did I read something about air conditioning? Out here in California [105 degrees and wildfires] we work outdoors with an umbrella and misting shot from the hose 🙂 🙂


  2. Hi Adam – I’m a relative newbie but can’t get enough bonsai and your blog. I was wondering if you could spend some time talking about the timing of the steps you take in caring for your trees? I’m trying to determine best time of year and the the right sequence for things like root trimming, repotting, chopping, defoliating, etc. I live in San Diego which has a fairly long growing season. Thanks!


    1. Hi Johnny,
      I can give generalized information on that but some things like that are species specific, USDA zone and environmental factor specific etc.
      send me an email, with what trees you have and I’ll be able to help you more specifically.


  3. I was hoping for a closer look at this tree. It’s even larger than I first thought. It’s going to be a show stopper! Can’t wait to watch progression photos of your working this tree.


  4. Love the blog, Would you do an update on your ilex shillings from previous posts. I look forward to reading every new one. Thank you for blogging.


  5. Worth looking at pics of old casaurinas growing in Australia. They have the most wonderful, twisting downwards branches.


  6. Wow Asam, great work with a very huge tree. I really like your art. If Omay suggest something, I’d like to read a post about elms. Greetings from Italy


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