My latest victim

Yamadori is the Japanese word for collecting wild trees to grow as bonsai. Today, while rustling through the wildflowers, I pushed aside a branch to discover a tiny triple stemmed Quercus robur sapling in a quiet corner of… my allotment, the other side of Croydon. 

Quercus robur

I’ve been interested in bonsai for quite some time. In fact, they were part of our original garden plan. Generally I prefer to start everything from seed or seedling to master the technique, so it’s going to take some time for these bonsai to become reality.

The bonsai I want to grow are all native species that would have grown in Clapham’s original ancient forests. Quercus robur (Oak), Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) and Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) are top of my list. I have started the pines off and now have a few little seedlings, and to find this Oak sapling on my allotment was perfect.

It couldn’t have stayed there, so I dug it up. It already had quite a large tap root, which I severed. The three stems are a result of the original sapling being cut down at some point. So, if it lives (which is dubious) I plan to grow it as a mini bonsai forest.

This bonsai experiment could go horribly wrong, guided only by a very good book my friend David bought me for my birthday last year and my general pruning knowledge.

I would normally say ‘stay tuned’ for the outcome, although I suspect you don’t want to wait for the next 5 – 10 years, so wish me luck instead.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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