|Just cut erodium in clump style: a new flush of leaves will follow|
It was almost like the history of bonsai in miniature. At the March ACBS meeting, Ken led the group through a demonstration on creating a small bonsai from an erodium right out of a nursery container. This small ground-cover weed lives easily on any kitchen window sill and is known to flower regularly. Ken explained the concept of just learning to take what the plant gives you to create a "mame" or miniature bonsai. For the demonstration, he showed how to rake out and cut back the roots. As these plants put out considerable roots for their size, periodic repotting is necessary. He also explained how to clean out the overgrown foliage to expose the trunks and to begin to create a miniature bonsai.
Ken cut the demonstration examples back pretty far. He explained that as with other species of trees, heavy pruning forces the tree to respond. He noted that the erodiums would in few weeks put on a second flush of smaller leaves. Then removing the larger ones again would continue to refine the pant. Over time, a tight small-leafed foliage umbrella would result. These particular plants bore nice-sized trunks for something right from the nursery, and the heavy foliage yielded a good number of cuttings.
As is typical, the opening each nursery plant is a bit of a surprise. It was a lesson in how to take what the tree gives you, and working with it. Some of the plants worked into small cascade styles, while other members created root-over -rock plantings, and most members also had an ample number of cutting to root up for future projects.
Ken has worked with erodiums now for a number of years, and has grown to love them. He believes
they are an ideal plant for someone new to bonsai. On the use of this small plant and what it can he commented that "For beginners, it is an ideal practice and learn material. You can learn many basic ideas about designing, shaping and refining bonsai from working with erodiums. You can create any of the traditional styles like and learn how to create some fine branching and how to reduce the size of the leaves--all in a short turn around time."
A few club members still had their erodiums from a workshop Ken did for the club about 15 years ago,and have been exhibited in past ACBS shows. Hopefully, those planted in this workshop will do as well, and we will see some in our next club show this summer --leafed out and in full bloom.