The Goulburn Bonsai Society of which I am a member arranges “digs” of potential bonsai on a regular basis. Over the years this group has dug a number of species, and all with the intention of creating bonsai of unique character.
The digging of Yamadori in Australia is not as common as it is in Japan, Europe or America but in the area that I live in there is a large selection of trees to dig, however most of these trees are exotic species that have been disbursed into the environment.
One of the species that we have the opportunity to dig is Hawthorn and the quality of these trees is quite high as they grow on a river flood plane and are “styled” by Mother Nature for us as the river floods. That is a bonus because it is a river flat and the digging is relatively easy because of the alluvial soil in the area.
Our bonsai society has had permission to dig on this land on four occasions now, and each time we find that the trees have some shape to them (not straight) and so we take a few in the hope that one of these will become a champion in the years to come.
Hawthorn are quite challenging so there is a lot of fun to be had. In the area where we are allowed to dig, there a a variety of sizes from potential shohin to very large, and many have a unique character.
We dig in August (end of winter in Australia) and the weather is quite variable at that time of year. It could be warm and sunny, around 17 deg C or it might be freezing cold with a very strong wind blowing. It any case the quality of the trees is worth the effort.
The above photo was taken in 2008 and will notice the ground is dry and the grass brown. The area was in need of some rain but it was very cold that year.
This photo was taken in 2012 when we went for our dig, and you can see the difference in the grass colour.
The people who went on these digs were targeting different types of stock plants, and fortunately the area caters for most tastes.
This time I was looking for trees that fitted the description of tall, elegant and with gentle movement. I am hopeful that I will be able to develop these trees into good bonsai in the coming years.
And just to show the beauty of the area where we dig, the photo below is of the black swans on the river.