Sunday, 17 March 2013

there and back again...................

This week was another mini shop adventure. The signs have arrived, people are starting to find the place and i needed to expand the accessories and affordable tree selection so thanks to being pointed in the right direction the car was sneaking out of the road at 3.45am on Friday morning heading towards the big smoky city. 4 hours of fuel saving steady (boring) driving the smoky bit with roads of many lanes was left behind and the countryside took control again......similar to home but bigger houses, newer cars and not so many tractors.

Behind the big gates was everything bonsai related I needed in vast amounts and in every direction I looked in. A really enjoyable 8 hours just disappeared, I barely got to look through a quarter of the stock and soon the car was brilliantly packed by an absolute expert - i'm convinced this is a skill perfected to maximise sales - if there is room in the car / van / lorry it may as well have more stock in it - but the great big white pine was just not going to make it this trip, and the smaller big pine would not go on the passenger seat either - so regretfully we both had to accept that and make do with the trailer load of stock I'd picked while browsing about. It gives great reason to return with a bigger vehicle if i can borrow one soon ;-) though as the white pine (s) and fun looking but challenging Juniper would love it far more in Cornwall. We squeezed in a full case of turntables, 3 bulging black sacks of fertiliser baskets, boxes of wire, tools, brushes, a top up of kanuma, cut pastes, pots, rolls of  drainage mesh and close to 50 trees from the little starter chinese elms to a great quince that had to lay on its side to fit in.......oh and to complete the journey to the dark side I was made to have a box of 'bonsai man' mud-men figures -(at least I have a Christmas pressy for my favorite bonsai professional sorted out now...he has a big van and likes moving macho hernia sized trees too.......mmmmmmmmmm?

Talking of favorite bonsai professionals this bit was funny and a little un-nerving.....the conversation went like this
Me:" the quinces caught my eye, how much are they?"
Z. "there are four price brackets on that bench, one tree is by far the best one (and the most expensive), which one are you interested in"
Me. "the one in the middle, I'll show this one............"
Z. "that one!!.....the one behind it is the best like the same one Peter did"

I bought the quince on the spot as it is great & has unique qualities but there was a silent pause between us both  as I though 'omg, am i starting to like all the odd weird trees' and Z was thinking 'Marcus picked the same tree out as Peter......why? and could I have got a few quid more' haha.   Finally the car was officially full so i was allowed to leave :-) and luckily the Friday night rush was all gone so the M25 was all moving and just short of 5 hours later I was home with a beer in hand.

Part of my feelings about starting the shop are to give the best chance of success in bonsai to my customers so they go further in the hobby so I decided to repot every new tree into a good soil mix, prune out the big coiled roots and to wire the trees into the pots properly. The chinese trees can only be imported with a very sterile potting medium so no nematodes or other pathogens survive - this also means no goodness survives either and will be the main reason so many starter trees decline and die so quickly. Many chinese elms end up as indoor trees and they dry out too much in pure akadama so it is the one species that really likes a loam content to the mix. Even my big one has been in a soil / loam based mix for the last 23 years, so it does work.

Akadama, ezo grit or pumice and John Innes No.2 is the Chinese Elm mix for success.

Sunday morning was production line repotting and i'm so glad I did - some pots had virtually 90% roots so now there is a nice mix of soil and roots - no wonder so many elms dry out so fast. These trees only arrived in the UK 4 days ago but they are starting to leaf out all over now they are warming up and seeing some sun, so the perfect time to repot was straight away

                                           3 dozen Elms and Podocarpus repotted before lunch time

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