Hello, I'm new to the group. My name is Charley Shipley and we recently moved from Montana to Southwest Colorado (near Durango). I wanted the mountains and rivers etc. we had in Montana and my wife wanted a little closer to family and a break from Montana winters. So here we are. I've tried to find other bonsai enthusiasts in my area but to no avail so far. It's nice to bounce ideas off other bonsai people concerning styling, winter care, watering and a bunch of other things. I've been doing bonsai for a long time. I'm also an artist and work as a designer. I would like to start a discussion regarding collecting native trees.
In Montana it is really wet in the spring and very easy to dig and transplant wild trees. That wasn't my experience this past spring in Colorado. I got a BLM permit (they mailed it to me) and dug up a nice little pinion. It was dry so I took about 12 gallons of water with me and soaked the soil. I got what I thought was a nice ball of roots under the tree about 18" in diameter. When I got it out of the hole and bagged it was about 14" around and looked like I got some nice roots. I kept it protected out of the sun and semi enclosed in a plastic bag and really watched the watering. Soil was a bonsai mix well draining. It lasted till mid summer and died. I collected it the end of April. I had the same experience with a juniper I collected on our property about the same time only it was smaller with a really nice ball of roots.
So... before I dig anything else I need some advice. My feeling is if I would have collected the trees earlier, like in March, when the soil was wet I would have had a better chance. I'm hesitant to dig in the fall as I do not have a way to keep the trees from freezing over winter. I did dig up a little juniper in August after a week of rain and it is still doing OK. I'll find out this spring if it survived. Anyways, thanks! I appreciate being a part of the group, if remotely. Any advice would be great and if anyone is heading to the Southwest part of the state let me know, we have some great trees to collect! I just need to figure out how.
One thing I forgot to mention. Tom's article describes how to build one that is on top of the ground. I have seen a video by Ryan Neil where he constructs one in the ground. His is inside a hoop house. I believe in the ground would be better insulated and temperature controlled if you have the ability to do that.
Check out this article on the website on heat bed construction written by Tom Anglewicz. https://8bc4b7f0-5a8a-4445-8895-7fb4dd612c49.filesusr.com/ugd/e28426_03c8919787e24371bc5ed52a79a3a813.pdf
I followed this and have had good success.
Yes, I think you're right that you'll have higher success with more moisture. Digging trees out of the ground can certainly be done here. I know of some who collect pinion pines out of the ground in southern CO and even New Mexico.
If you can rig up a heat bed I think you'd have great success collecting in the fall as well. Bonsai Mirai has a tutorial about this and you could also reach out to Todd Schlafer (www.firstbranchbonsai.com) for advice on heat beds and pinion pine collection in general.
It's true that most of us collect out of rock pockets around here, but that doesn't mean it's the only way to do it.
Best of luck! and I hope to meet you at a show in the future.
Welcome to the club by the way!!
Pinyon pines are difficult to collect. There is an article under the Education tab written by club members you should read. Both Pine trees (all types) and Junipers (all types) are collected from rocky areas in Colorado where the tree is growing in a small cavity in a rock or crack where the whole tree can be basically lifted out of the hole with most of the roots in tack. This is a simplistic statement, there is more to it then that. Most trees in Colorado are not collectable. Digging them usually results in a dead tree in Colorado. It would be best if you went collecting with an experienced Colorado collector who can show you how to collect trees successfully. There are several in the club who do this. You can also read up on collecting here: Collecting Yamadori