The green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England, is home to the cider apple orchards which surround the gardens of Pear Tree Cottage. They enjoy a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury and Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener! This began in 2010 & follows the weekly ups and downs of garden work chronicling both successes and failures but, above all, demonstrates the fun enjoyed by three people who regularly garden in all weathers


19 March 2015

Practical Bonsai Tuition!

The master at work
Wet tea towels, root brush and Vaseline(!)
How lucky am I?  Today, I have had the VERY best kind of help to repot an enormously heavy Acer in a very big pot.  It had been languishing in its present pot for several years before I was given it and that was 2 years ago.  I just KNEW it must be desperate. Somehow, Chris Genever managed to lift the whole shooting match of its stand and between us and after a struggle we were able to remove it from its pot with both tree and pot intact.  He them lifted the tree into a wheelbarrow and with the help of a special root combing tool and root pruners, much of the spent soil was removed and its roots trimmed.  
Water spray, root pruners and  trimmed excess roots

I was shown how to only comb outwards from the centre, how to even brush the soil from around the roots.  This is all pretty new to me but the REALLY useful thing is knowing that I can keep the tree in the same pot and not have to keep potting it on to  bigger, heavier and even more unmanageable pots over time.   The other fact to borne in mind is that this is the absolute perfect time of year to complete such an activity ie. just as the buds are swelling but before leaves emerge.

This was a a big undertaking and as lunch was overdue and to ensure the roots had no opportunity to dry out, they were sprayed with water and wrapped in wet tea towels before being parked in the shade whilst we grabbed a well earned sandwich. Root pruning then recommenced and as larger roots were cut, Vaseline was rubbed on the raw cut. Chris made a mix of part horticultural grit, ericaceous and J.I. No. 2 potting mediums with added bonemeal and ercicaeous slow release fertlilizer. Whilst still empty, the pot was then placed in position - no flies on us!!   A layer of gravel was placed in the base to ensure the roots are never waterlogged and the tree was carefully repotted with compost being gently firmed around all the roots ensuring no air gaps.  After a thorough watering, it was top dressed with a layer of horticultural grit to hold in moisture.  Hey presto!!  Job done!!

The really surprising thing was the huge volume of redundant roots and spent compost left in the wheelbarrow seemed 3 times bigger than the fresh potting materials used!  Anyway, it should be happy for a couple more years and I have gained much practical knowledge!

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