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.