Making a large forest planting by consolidating some old, large, collected trees and using an old, large pot that had been forgotten about.
Many years ago I decided to make a large forest planting of collected American Beech trees that I had removed from a neighborhood wooded area. I had about 20 to use so I got a discounted pot from an importer friend. The pot had a firing crack radiating out from one of the drain holes. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem for me so I bought the pot. It was huge and heavy. I made a large forest which looked nice until the next spring when it had 3-4 dead small trees. So, I had to go collect some similar trees to replace them. The next spring, the same thing, but different trees. I had to go collect more trees similar in size and work them in the root balls. The third spring, still a few dead trees. I gave up. I tore it apart and saved the larger main tree as a single tree and I still have it to this day.
The pot was stored behind my tea house leaning up against the rear wall. It was not noticeable between the tea house and an existing garden fence. It rested there for many years, pretty much forgotten about!
Last fall while doing some landscape projects I removed the section of fence that ran behind the tea house and rediscovered the old, large pot.
Note the pot pictured with a 36 inch yard stick!
I decided to use the pot to consolidate several of my old, collected Eastern White Cedars ( Arborvitae) . I had ten old trees that I had been growing for years. Some large and others medium size. Some in great health and others, well, not so much. ALL were in need of styling/restyling. Some were WELL OVER 100 years old! Most of the trees were collected in northern Canada and Nova Scotia, with a few of the straighter trunk specimens collected by me in NE Ohio.
A local club member, Gib Butler, came over to help me with the preparation of the trees and the assembly of the forest.
I weighed the pot alone before the assembly and found it weighed 81 pounds!
Gib and I sifted through the 10 possible trees and decided on 6 that were healthy enough, various sized/shaped, the right amount of twists and angles to go together ( no straight trunks used) and root balls that might fit together without tearing them up too much.
We removed each tree from its single pot, raked out the roots, trimmed them and soaked each one in a tub of water until we had them all done and ready to assemble.
While Gib and I worked on the trees we settled on 5 that would PROBABLY fit in the pot and we had a few trees with multiple trunks that we liked quite well and would give our forest a look that suggested more trees.
The assembly of the forest turned out to be quite a job! We had run several hold-down wires but still needed to wire some trees together above the soil to keep spacing, angles and solidness in tact. The main tree and second tree on the right side were fairly easy to decide on and how their placement would be, but Gib and I spent quite some time trying the rest of the trees at different positions, directions and angles. It was no easy job sorting out twisted branches and fitting in root balls.
After quite a few different possibilities were tried we settled on the arrangement of the 5 trees. No 6th tree would fit. We thought we had made the best selections and arrangement possible with what we had. We filled in around the trees with my soil mix. I think we used close to 15 gallons of soil mix.
We decided to look for a spot in the garden to set the planting. I decided on an area that I could now place a large planting since I had removed the section of fence in that area and it would help hide the large surface area of my gas kiln shed now visible without the fence. I had guessed the weight at around 200 pounds so I decided I’d better give the bench a weight test.
The two of us could not lift it so we decided to leave it on our working bench for a few weeks in partial sun so I could watch it closely and make sure it was responding well and we would get some help in a few weeks. I watched it pretty closely for the first few weeks as it was pretty early in the season here and we were still getting frosts most nights so I covered it with a plastic sheet almost every night . I DID NOT want to have to try to replace a damaged tree!!!!
In the meantime I devised an additional support post for the bench that fit under the bench and installed it, just in case!
A few weeks later the trees were looking fine so Gib and I were joined by another local club member, Craig Lipaj, to move the forest to its new location in the bonsai garden, but, first I was curious and wanted to weigh it. I devised a way to weigh it on a bathroom scale. My wife Nancy took some pictures of us weighing it. It came in right at 200 pounds, just as I had suspected!
Nancy got a great picture of the three of us moving it to the bench and placing it. Note the bench support I added.
It’s been several weeks now and the foliage is beginning to put out some new bright green tips. I think it will do pretty well this season and I can fairly easily slide it to rotate it on the plastic bench top.
BUT, now I have to decide just what to do with it this winter!?
I hope you enjoyed my little story.