[A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

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Matt S
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[A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

OK, I've committed to this so here's my entry.

Currently I'm into small forests and I've been giving a lot of thought to the types of local landscapes that inspire me, so this is a good chance to combine the two. So here is the starting point: A motley collection of Callitris seedlings and a bag o' rocks.
1st Jan 2020.JPG

I think the seedlings originated from seeds collected from Terryb (thanks Terry) and someone else germinated them and gave a handful to me and they've been sitting around in the gaps on my benches not doing much. The rocks came from the Big Green Shed and I bought them a long time ago because I liked the squarish shapes and the colour matched the local sedimentary rocks.

Many years ago I collected some Callitris seeds from the Flinders Ranges, specifically in a gorge near Parachilna where the Native Cypress and the River Reds line a gorge of amber rocks. One tree survived from the resulting tray of seedlings and it's currently sitting in the national collection, so there's a lot of strong memories of that place, and this will be my attempt to create an impression of the Flinders Ranges. Hopefully.

This competition will help me pull the finger out and get to work on something I've been thinking about for a while, so thanks Mark. I encourage people to give this sort of thing a go, regardless of your experience because you'll learn a lot and have a lot of fun.

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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by MJL »

Matt S wrote: January 4th, 2020, 6:51 pm So here is the starting point: A motley collection of Callitris seedlings and a bag o' rocks.

Many years ago I collected some Callitris seeds from the Flinders Ranges....One tree survived from the resulting tray of seedlings and it's currently sitting in the national collection, so there's a lot of strong memories of that place, and this will be my attempt to create an impression of the Flinders Ranges. Hopefully.

I encourage people to give this sort of thing a go, regardless of your experience because you'll learn a lot and have a lot of fun.

Matt.
Hey Matt,

Fantastic that you have entered this competition. :beer: A few selected quotes from your entry are noted above and I comment below. ;)

A motley collection of seedlings and rock seems a fine place to start and I love that you are inspired by the memories and trees of the Flinders Ranges. :yes:

The 'humble wobble' must be mentioned ... sneaking in a comment that you have a tree in the national collection. Well played! :) :whistle:

And yep, give it a go folks ... we will learn a lot from each other as updates are shared and questions/challenges answered and debated. Along with those newer to bonsai - if we are lucky enough to have more experienced folk join the competition too - all the better, the learning will be only deeper. Great stuff.

Most importantly, as Matt says. Have fun. Life needs the oxygen of a laugh or two so let's enjoy the hobby. Perhaps try something new, challenge yourself and we can be richer in our knowledge for the journey.
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by boom64 »

Hi Matt ,Great choice of material (one of my favourites ) ,will enjoy watching this one. Good luck John.
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by melbrackstone »

Looking forward to seeing this develop, Matt. Are these trees needing to sit in water like so many of our natives?
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by matlea »

I’ve got a few of these on the go at the moment. Some to be stand alone and some will end up as group or forest settings. Will be watching how you go with these - good choice
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

Today I sorted through the rocks and chose the ones I thought had the best shapes and patterns and then had a stab at arranging them in a canyony kind of way. They’re held together with plasticine and I’ll keep playing around until I’m happy with the arrangement. The hardest part is keeping the horizontal lines in line with each other as even a slight variation is jarring to the eye. The gaps between the rocks will be filled with clay and moss so hopefully the end result will be a bit softer.

Matt.


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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by boom64 »

Looks like good fun Matt. Thinking about those horizontal lines ,would a change in direction suggest some kind of upheaval ,create a bit of tension. Maybe I have been looking at those rocks a bit to much. Just a thought . Cheers John.
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by MJL »

Good to watch the creative process in motion.I find it interesting - I thought the canyon was quite large - yet no, the Asahi bottle provides the perspective. The deception has started even in these early stages of concept and design ideas. Cool - thanks for the update.


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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by melbrackstone »

Hey Matt, I do love the idea of the canyon, but am concerned that the rocks are all a bit too similar in size. Do you have some bigger ones to break it up? Reckon one big one and no more than 2 smaller ones will be much more effective?
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

Thanks for the feedback people. Mel, I don’t have larger rocks but I’m hoping that when the gaps between the rocks are filled it will look more like layers of sedimentary rock.

John, you’ve got me thinking so I might experiment with different angles. Luckily haven’t glued anything in place yet!

Matt.
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[A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by MJL »

Come to think of it... there is more than a bit of The Flinstones about the construct of the current canyon! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UL7beNWNLEQ

Perhaps even the wall of the Cliffside Picnic Park at the 39 second mark .... or the canyon the car falls into Image... good memories... I loved The Flintstones when I was growing up.


Of course Matt, I jest - the direction you are taking is looking good.

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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

I've been mucking around with these rocks for a while now using plasticine to hold everything in place, and the first lesson I learnt was not to do it on a stinking hot day as the plasticine melts and nothing stays together long enough for me to take a picture. At one stage I resorted to keeping it all the fridge while no one was looking just so I could get an idea of what I wanted.

I tried with the strata lines on an angle and with different lines at different angles, but in the end I kept the original idea of straight horizontal planes. I looked at some photos of one of the gorges I had collected the seeds from and found this nice one that even included some Callitris, so this is the inspiration:
Flinders Gorge.JPG


..and here are the assembled rocks. They're held in place with a bit of Liquid Nails and a lot of Sellys Knead It (for those who haven't used Knead It, it comes in a tube and you cut of how much you want, then knead it thoroughly to mix the two components together. You then have about 10 minutes before it sets rock hard). You'll have to imagine the gaps filled with moss and clay, because that's a job for when summer is over. Also keep in mind that the bottom row won't be seen once the soil is in place.
canyon front Feb20.JPG

Here's how it looks from behind.
canyon rear Feb20.JPG

Not much to do for a while other than getting the trees growing strongly ready for transplanting. I'll leave the pot outside in the elements.

Matt.
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

While the trees are busy growing I thought today I'd do something about the rocks. I really want the gaps between the rocks to fill with moss which might be a challenge in my back yard but I'm giving it a go. I made a firm slurry out of sieved sphagnum moss, clay soil and and some dried moss that grows on the footpath outside my house during winter. I added enough water until it was moist but firm enough to hold it's shape, then pushed it into the gaps. Really big gaps were first filled with my potting mix before a layer of slurry was added to the top.

I'll place this in the shade and keep it moist until the moss takes off, although once the trees go in it will have to go in the sun. Fingers crossed, but I'll think of a plan B in the meantime.

canyon Mar20.JPG
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by MJL »

I am really enjoying this thread Matt. The thought going into the whole concept is interesting to read. Your approach and enjoyment of creating something new, captures the essence of the competition. :imo: With this approach, when the moss emerges from its dried slumber, it will grow more realistically into the crevices on the rock wall and should be more durable (than trying to lay clumps of existing moss onto the walls). :fc:
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Re: [A Forest Tale] Matt S – Callitris Canyon

Post by Matt S »

Last night I got a bit of time to myself so I decided to finally put the whole thing together.

There were a lot of roots in all three of the pots so teasing them out took a long time as I didn't want to have to trim too much off, as I really want all the trees to survive. I created a nice open mix of potting medium and first put down a drainage layer of larger stones before adding some of the medium, then the trees, then more medium. Tomorrow I'll add a final layer of chopped sphagnum moss mixed with the same dried moss I used for the rocks, but first I want to make sure the whole thing settles down and there are no gaps in the soil.

I discovered small forests are hard to assemble. Moving one tree drags the others around too so there was a lot of fiddling about in the placement of the trees, but at least everything stayed in place and and it all seems well anchored. I really wanted to to reduce the height on some trees to make it look nicer but I resisted the urge as I want all of them to bed down and grow strongly. Thicker trees need to be taller than thinner ones but for now I'll hide the scissors and keep the whole thing in a sheltered position and just keep an eye on the moisture.

None of the moss has grown on the rocks as it dries out so quickly so I may be transplanting some once Winter kicks in. In the photo the trunks get a bit lost against the rocks but I'm hoping that will improve once the moss has covered the bits I want it to.
callitris canyon Apr 2020.JPG
callitris canyon Apr 2020 closeup.JPG

Matt.
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