I bought this hawthorn at a Bonsai show in Bournemouth in 2002. I haven't done much to it yet, preferring to let it settle into it's new home. Now in it's second year it's time to start working. First things first, repotting ...

Hawthorn as bought.

This is the hawthorn as it was originally bought. I waqs planted in a polystyrene growing box in a gritty compost mix, topped with pure grit (for appearances sake, presumably).

Hawthorn March 2004

Now it's the end of March 2004 and the buds are swelling nicely. Compared to the original tree it's obvious that there has not been much growth. I haven't fertilized this tree much beyond a few cakes of rapeseed fertiliser. Being unsure of the state of the root and soil I decided to wait until it was repotted before settling on a fertilising regime.

Soil mix

I used a soil mix of roughly 3 of grit, 3 of akadama to 1 of seived non-peat compost (produces fine chipped bark). With a good, open compost fertiliser burn on the roots becomes less likely as excess fertiliser is easily washed out by watering.

The pot

For once I remembered to prepare the pot before I removed the soil from the tree.

Looking beneath the soil.

The tree felt too heavy to somply lift from the box. Not knowing what state it was in I decided to destroy the growing box, rather than risk damage by heaving the tree out. I was initially a little worried about the soil used as it looked to be less gritty that I had thought. As it turned out I need not have worried. The soil was very gritty, but the fine particles has been washed towards the edges of the box, making it look like it was not free draining.

Good roots.

The roots looked very good. Lots of fine roots near the base and no real tap roots to speak of. Having revealed the trunk lower down it looks like the tree was planted deep to disguise reverse taper of the trunk. I took a little time to investigate the roots further and see if there was an alternative planting height.

Air layered roots.

I had though this was a collected tree, but having looked at the roots it became obvious that this has been an air layer! The main trunk comes to an abrupt halt with a complete ring of fine roots.

Drainage Layer

The pot was prepared with a drainage layer of large sized akadama. I used akadama because I had a lot of large particles left after seiving and I was feeling too lazy to crush them into more suitable sized particles.

Mounded soil.

The standard mound of soil was then created to take the tree.

Tree placed

The tree weas then positioned on the mound and pushed down for firm contact with the soil. Although I was not too concerned with the tree's placement within the pot, I placed it slightly to the left to balance out the right-hand curve of the trunk.

Protecting roots

To protect roots when wiring a tree into its pot, I use small pieces of aquarium hose.

Soil placed

Finally the soil is all added. Thumping the sides of the pot with a fist helps the soil settle, but remember to support the tree while doind this otherwise it can shift along with the soil. I also use a thin stick to ensure that the soil has no air pockets remaining.

Intensive care.

Finally, the tree is placed in a shady spot in my unheated greenhouse and watered thoroughly. The tree will stay here for a few weeks recovery out of cold winds and frosts. I shall eventaully move it outside when the tree settles and the weather improves, but I shall still keep it protected from the worst of the elements.

Feeding will start in 6 to 8 weeks to try and get some more bulk into the branches. I shall also start thinking about the final shape of the tree.