One of my workmates was in the process of revamping the landscaping at his mothers residence and asked me if I would like a camellia that was to be discarded. His description of it being a “reasonable size” had me interested and so I agreed with some excitement to dig it out. Reasonable size turned out to be about 3 metres by about 3 metres – huge in camellia terms but as I was already committed to the task, it was onwards and upwards.
This was going to be a big task!!!
My knowledge of camellia and their growing conditions was that they have a shallow root system, like to grow in slightly acid soil and like filtered sun with protection from hot afternoon sun. With this in mind I thought that the digging would be relatively easy – no big roots, no big tap root etc. However after about three hours digging this thought process evaporated as it became obvious that this particular camellia had a large number of very thick roots, many of which went straight down.
The trunk width was a bit over the 300mm mark and there was branching lower down so it looked good, the only problem was getting it out. As we had run out of time, it was decided to pack up and come back the next week to continue the process, but this time with a bit more hardware to assist!
Now we had some soil removed it was time to bring in the heavy artillery, an electric reciprocating saw.
Something else I discovered about camellia is that their structure is very tight and as such it makes them difficult to cut.
Yes that is smoke coming from the cut area but I thought it might just seal the cut. The density of the wood and it being damp has caused this sensation however I am hopeful that it will not be detrimental to the tree in the long term.
Once out of the ground it was into the van and off home for the next phase which consisted of soaking in a bath of water with seasol added.
The caption does say “for size comparison” but at this stage I really did need a beer or two!
After a week in the bath it was time to pot it up and it is not easy to have suitable size containers sitting around, however I had bought this pot for another project but as I really did need it for the camellia I will purchase another pot soon for the other project. I did almost bare root the tree and without any dirt around the root system the tree weighed about 45kg so the likelihood of moving it around once in the pot is quite remote.
There is a difficulty in photographing very large bonsai outside as suitable backdrops are difficult to find as can be seen in the photo below. Not withstanding that the new “bonsai to be” stands about 1100mm high as has potential to be a fine large bonsai in the years to come.