Monday, March 12, 2012

Ponderosa workhsop on Monday, April 2, 2012 in Harrisburg

There are still a few openings. Together with Jim Dyole I will hold a full day workshop with ponderosa pines. We have dozens of very good established  trees available.
Ask Jim Doyle for your seat:

 Nature's Way Nursery, 1451 Pleasant Hill Rd.
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Jim Doyle (717)545-4555

Nature's Way Nursery

In case you have no clue what expects you read what Bryan Mercer (thank you Bryan!)wrote in his club's newsletter about the ponderosa workshop at the Asheville event in 2011:

Collected ponderosa workhsop
by Bryan Mercer in Trangle Bosnai Society newsletter of October 2011

The workshop was five hours long and the seven
participants were able to choose their specimens
from a group of ten trees. Walter focuses his
workshops on the participant learning by doing. He
does not do it for you, but is there to provide
guidance. I believe that all participants left with
more knowledge, a superb tree and best of all five
hours of eye opening experience.
Walter first started the workshop with all
participants gathered around each tree and talked
about the possibilities. Walter encouraged each
person to present their two options for their tree and
then each tree was discussed by the group. Finally,
Walter would comment in the end if there were
other options that the group did not notice. Most of
the options that were missed were ones that
included tilting the tree to help diminish any section
of straight trunk or to accommodate any roots that
were all on one side of the tree.
Once the critique was over it was time to clean up
the tree. Any stubs from branches were cutoff, last
needles plucked off and deadwood was completed.
Walter recommends any initial jin and shari should
be completed before styling of any branches take
place because it will help in making the final styling
decisions. Walter asked that when we were done
with the cleanup he would point out five things that
we missed. Usually he would point out at least five
things that were missed just on the bottom half or
top half of the tree, Oh well!....better luck next
Once this was complete, it was time to wire the
branches. Walter explained that he prefers the
modern version of wiring which changes the angle
to be wider. This allows more room for bending
and not damaging the branches. He prefers the 30
degree angle in place of the traditional 45 degree.
We found that the spacing held the branches very
well, especially with copper wire. He also insisted
that we do the “sling shot” method at the end of
each branch just below the start of the needles. This
entailed wrapping the wire loosely around the
branch in a circle just below the base of the needles.
When it was time to position the branches it was
quickly realized how important that step was. By
wrapping the wire around, one was able to position
the end of the branch precisely - usually up in the
air. Once wiring was complete each person moved
their branches into place. Then Walter would come
around and move them again. He focused on
creating 3 dimensional bends which enhanced the
ruggedness and beauty of the tree. He would
achieve this by bending the branch up and down,
and then right and left in each bend.
Throughout the workshop Walter ensured that each
student complete all work and focused on each
individuals apparent weakness. We would hear,
“That is a bad Jin, keep working...That is really
bad wire work, you need to work on that.” He
would make each person complete the work without
doing it himself. At most he would demonstrate or
talk for 30 seconds but then quickly hand it over.
At one point he stated, “I will talk for no more than
five minutes, then you have to do some work.” This
type of teaching was obviously very important to
Walter and I think that all the participants can say
that they appreciated it and came away better for it.
As the hours passed our trees were looking better
and better. Walter would go around in a circle,
spend a few seconds with each person then move
These trees were collected in the mountains of
Colorado, quickly moved down the mountain and
put into nursery pots with 100% pumice. Then
transported within 48 hours to the nursery in
Pennsylvania where they have been living for the
last couple of years. The trees were estimated to be
at least around 100 to 150 years old and had very
impressive flakey bark. These Ponderosa Pines
grow at about a rate of 1 inch diameter per 100
years according to Walter.
Repotting will not be completed the next spring, but
the following. Walter explained that with collected
specimens when repotting you should keep as much
of the root ball as possible. Collected trees survive
better and have a more difficult time producing
roots so it is important to keep them. He also
recommended removing as much of the mountain
soil away as possible.
Bryan Mercer with Walter Pall and finished tree
With today’s soil mix he recommends watering and
fertilizing much more frequently. Because most of
today’s soil mix consists of very course, consistent
size particles most of any liquid is washed away.
He explained that the traditional fertilization
schedule is not frequent enough and that trees
would benefit from more feeding and watering.
In the end, all seven trees had their own individual
look and we had all types of trees from slanting and
semi-cascade to more upright and traditional. But
all had a very naturalistic look that showed decades
of rain, wind, sun and damage to them to give them
a unique and beautiful look. We are all anxious to
see them fill out over the years to come and look
even more impressive.