(The Cliff Hanger)
Collected March 18, 2009
This tree was growing near the edge of a small cliff near the Chesapeake Bay. I had spotted it about 3 or 4 years
ago but knew at that time that I didn't have the expertise to collect.
The roots were of two kinds, Huge and nonexistent. Two of the main roots were partially exposed and had been
for some years. The root going back away from the drop off was extremely long with no feeder roots for at least
the first three feet.
In 2008 I severed the long root going away from the drop off in hopes of getting it to grow feeder roots closer to
the trunk. I found this spring that it really didn't work. I think that was mainly because of the lack of water. The soil
was very silty and water tends to run off before soaking in.
In the spring of 2009 when I looked in on the tree, I found that the cliffside was eroding away faster than the tree
was going to grow roots. The roots under the trunk would probably be entirely exposed by next year. With that,
and my experience with two other cherries in mind, I decided to collect the tree.
These trees seem to put out new roots very easily once they are in a good gritty soil that is watered and fertilized
regularly as evidenced by the roots that grew on my other cherry yamadori. With that in mind I grabbed my big
loppers, a construction bag, and some water and set out.
My fears of this tree not having any feeder roots in close to the trunk were well founded.
After getting it home I cleaned up the cuts on the ends of the roots and dusted with rooting hormone. I also took a
sharp knife and shaved a bare spot directly under the trunk and dusted it with rooting hormone. I then planted it
into the vacated grow box that once held my barberry. I potted it up in my old stand by 100% Turface. After
watering it in well it looked like this.
The tree began putting out buds after about 3 weeks. I was a happy camper when that happened but knew I was
not out of the woods yet. I suspected with a trunk this big it could have a lot of stored energy and might still fail.
My experience with the other cherries led me to believe that it had started putting out feeders and would continue
to grow strongly.I did nothing to it other than feed and water heavily.
The tree put out a lot of new growth in the Spring and continued to grow strongly. I had planned to unpot the tree
and check the root progress. After some discussion on The Bonsai Site Forum I decided the best course of
action was to let it continue to grow and put off the root examination until spring of 2011.
I have abandoned the plans to unpot and check the roots. Since the tree is still growing I know the roots are
growing as well. Unpotting will set the tree back some and I want to put that energy to better use. I have removed
the large branch since it is too large as well as the stub branch higher on the trunk. As the tree grows this spring I
will grow a branch extra long and, since they are so flexible, I will thread graft it to create a branch at about where
the trunk bends to the left.
Buds have begun to pop on the very top of the trunk. These, and any that pop lower on the trunk, will be kept
and used as thread grafts where needed.