Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gumpo Azalea 1

Gumpo Azaleas are a satsuki hybrid with particularly small leaves, making them lovely for shohin bonsai. Classically, they are white, but pink (light), Fancy (pink flowers with a white margin) and red (dark pink) are available. Though less common in the Northern USA, these have been grown in parts farther south and in Japan for a long time. Usually considered suitable for zone 7 and warmer, we've only seen these little gems available regularly up here in the last ten years or so, as the winters have been slowly warming. They still require winter protection in my area, mostly from drying winds.

Intersting tidbit - Gumpo translates to 'Group of Phoenixes'.

This weekend I was considering a piece of stock I picked up at the end of last season. I got it for a song from the back of a large nursery, along with several of its brethren gumpos. Ostensibly a bush, the base is what drew me, and as I cleared away a lot of the old soil I was rewarded even further.

Originally, the soil line came up above the funny elbow looking branch on the right, with the whole bush being tilted to the right, hiding the root flare on that side. Fine roots had started to grow in the gap between the branch and what has now become the exposed nebari. I cleaned these out, since I had more than enough healthy roots to work with in more appropriate areas. Below are shots of the base and nebari from two different vantage points, both offering very different thoughts about a front for me.

The tree is a little wierd and kooky from this angle. I would actually rotate it slightly, so that the lack of roots on the left hand side is not so glaring, if I were to chose this angle. There *are* roots on that side, just not nearly as flat and spreading as the ones on the right in the above picture.

From this side, the nebari is not nearly as dramatic, but it still has something to offer, especially if I want to go with a heavy cut down and start the branching entirely from scratch. It could make a potentially powerful little shohin, which the leave size lends itself to very well. Less dramatic, more sedate. This was the side originally exposed, and what made me bring it home in the first place.

I will be letting this piece recover from the repotting while I deliberate possibilities. Extensive removal of branches (there are a lot of them that will play no role in any future work) will wait. I intend to remove the flower buds, and once vegatative growth starts up again here, doing light, selective pruning, with an eye on encouraging back budding. If I had a clearer idea of which direction I wanted to take this, I might be more daring with cutting it down, but for now, I am in no rush.

Suggestions and thoughts, as always, are welcome.