Species Specific > Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion


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Dale Cochoy:
I wasn't quite sure where to put this article since it is not a satsuki azalea but instead a kurume variety. I guess it could also have gone under 'carving' as that was a major portion of the styling. I hope it's okay here.

This tale starts 10 years ago. I was doing a bonsai demo at a local county park office and when I was all done one viewer stayed to talk a while. It was his first viewing of anything bonsai related other than "Karate Kid". It seems he was a retired lawyer who had decided to rebuild his late father-in-laws wholesale nursery up near lake Erie. It had set empty since his FIL had died about ten yrs earlier. He was making great gains in refurbishing it and planting up some exotic conifers, etc. He told me there was a lot of old stock there he couldn't use and didn't want and I was welcome to come up and dig for free.
I took him up on it and removed several old eastern white cedars, an old huge ginkgo and this Kurume azalea. His wife said it was about 75 years old and was planted near the house and chopped back several times. Before I got to it there was recently some chopping.
I decided to dig it and it actually came out fairly easy, A beautiful root base and flare with a strange horizontal trunk coming off which had been chopped back long ago, ditto with the tall main top trunk.
I took it home , washed out the roots and cut it back to a starting position and potted it up. I INTENDED to start work on it the next spring.....

Dale Cochoy:

OK, ....so....I procrastinated. It sat in my garden growing, sprouting, blooming, etc. for ten years. It blooms fantastic with HUNDREDS of small pink flowers. Here are a couple shots of it blooming two years ago

Dale Cochoy:
I finally decided to jump into it this spring and my friend Matt came over to help.
First we had to do a serious preliminary cut back.  
My Jack Russell Terrier 'Monte' is modeling it for scale. Also boards on table are 5 1/2" wide.

Dale Cochoy:
After we got it selectively cut back enough to work on we removed it from the mica pot it had been in for TEN YEARS!! .  I wish I'd taken a picture of the pile of cuttings/branches! We raked it out, trimmed some roots, hosed the root ball with full force, cleaned around the rootbase  and squeezed it into a chinese ceramic oval that was about 5 1/2" deep inside.

Dale Cochoy:
Next I spent a couple hours carving the dead trunks  and stubs that ran horizontal and vertical. While carving out the dead I built taper into these large sections. I decided to keep the horiz. trunk as it added quite a bit to the size and would allow me to create a nice low crown and, mainly, because it was an intrigueing trunk that I did not recall seeing elsewhere in books. It had some interesting large roots at it's end that really clasp the trunk down.  Also, had I removed it I would have been left with a HUGE scar that, in Ohio, would NEVER heal over and, in fact, might kill off that side of the tree!


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