Spring 2020 Olive Preview During Shelter-in-Place Orders

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It has been a very odd time in our lives. 2020 started out with a roar and has gotten more and more complex.  Some bloggers talk about doing bonsai in this COVID-19 shelter-in-place time has been beneficial to their collections, they have had more time to work on their trees. For those in the business of bonsai that has cut two ways. We work on our own trees, while our clients and caretaker collections have not had much attention. In my own garden it has given concentrated time to clean up and observe Spring in my trees for the first time. However, I have to work from home everyday so I have not made extensive progress on the collection as a while. The nice thing is that I can sit here and look out the window wall and watch the sun rise of the trees and see them bloom. Lunch time affords a brief walk out on the patio to give them some attention and then back at work again. That leaves tired evenings and restless weeks to do refinement work.  It also means that bonsai instruction has moved exclusively online and I have the great honor to sit in on some instructors remotely as they role through their material sitting in their studios or home workshops.

The most recent class I was in was an olive styling class. Olive are one of my favorite species that i have cultivated for nearly 15 years now. Olives and Oaks are my favorites along with my tropical collection and yet, I love my pines.  I guess guess I just love all the diversity of species but the olives have been a defined passion. Many have moved through my hands over the years and I maintain them in collections as well.

This time of year, as spring warms up they begin to push new growth aggressively. Every one in my collection were re-potted last year. This year we will see great change and the roots fill the pots again. Foliage has thickened up substantially and ramification work from last year will continue to develop. I will be watching for the new growth to harden off and the tree’s chemistry to change to energy direction. The it will be time to prune and defoliate again. For now, I must rotate the trees and give as much sun and food as I can to have them blow out the stored winter energy.

This gallery of images will document their starting point for this year. I will revisit the collection as I refine them later this Spring. Hope you enjoy them. Almost all of the larger olives have been worked on since 2006 in my collection, some of 6 foot tall growth from stumps. Two are more recent gifts and the shohin a precious give from a friend now long gone to her rest.

European Olive stump, Spring 2020
European Olive stump, Spring 2020, this composition involves an integrated lace rock and is one of my prize trees. Its journey has been well documented and it has gone to show a few times.
This old Olive stump was recovered form a collection styled by Sandy V. It needs a lot of work but is an interesting stump to design. This will change dramatically this year. You are looking at the presumed front but we shall see.
This old Olive stump was recovered form a collection styled by Sandy V. It needs a lot of work but is an interesting stump to design. This will change dramatically this year. This is the presumed back view but we shall see if that holds in the final redesign.
Old shohin olive stump still being developed. This was acquired at the Mammoth Fundraiser auction at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt. It only had a few little leaves on it about 5 years ago.
This olive is co-developed in the collection. Originally from Jane Iki in Kusamura Bonsai Club. The tree had a reverse tapper and walking roots. We have buried it deeper in the pot and are recreating a new nebari and it is working very well.
This is a little olive mame/shohin clump. It is a challenge to keep small and ramified but it will see big changes this year to chase the growth tight and reduce leaf size.

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