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Conifers reproduce quite well spontaneously in nature. Collection in the undergrowth of pines is possible.

Conifers reproduce quite well spontaneously in nature. Collection in the undergrowth of pines is possible.

The collection, that is to say, the search for bonsai in nature, was once part of the philosophical approach of this highly intellectual activity. For the Buddhist monk or the samurai, it was not conceivable to produce a bonsai as one would for a common vegetable. It was at the same time a return to the sources, a quest for self in nature.
In Japanese, the search for a tree in its natural environment is called Yamadori, and the bonsai got this way Yamadori Shitate. This collection has the advantage of allowing the choice of the subject according to the form that one wants to obtain; and also to take a tree already aged several years, or even several decades. In return, it should be noted that it is rare to find a tree made according to established style standards.
However, it is often more difficult to correct defects deeply rooted in the structure of the tree, than to train a young subject born from sowing, cutting or layering. The satisfaction of finding a superb tree, even if it does not conform to established styles, is however often very large.
Before considering the technique of collection, it is good to specify which are the limitations of this practice.

A very covered undergrowth of this type is an ideal place for the search for trees likely to become bonsai.

A very covered undergrowth of this type is an ideal place for the search for trees likely to become bonsai.

The possibilities of collecting in nature are, in fact, very limited. Indeed, it is strictly forbidden to collect plants in all state forests, very severe penalties being provided for forests in natural parks.
In a private property, if the land does not belong to you, it is necessary, of course, the authorization of the owner. However, collection is only possible if the land is not in a natural park. In any case, it is possible to take a plant only if it is not protected. We see that the legal restrictions are numerous, which considerably limits the possibilities of collection in our regions.

Where to look?

Where to look?

If there is no legal impediment to collection, it is also necessary that the site lends itself to the search for a tree that would have developed under conditions conducive to the spontaneous formation of a bonsai.
The weak growth of a tree can come only from conditions unfavorable to its normal development. This may be either a climate-poor region (eg high-altitude areas) or a low-light area (undergrowth cover, shelter). a cliff, for example), is still a place where the land is very poor (in a moor, scrubland, etc.).

When to take?

When to take?

In principle, any transplant should take place during the rest period of the veg. Given the significant climatic variations that may exist between places where one is likely to find a satisfactory subject, it is hardly possible to specify precise deadlines for transplantation. However, it is important to transplant hardwoods in the fall and conifers in early spring (until April in temperate areas). In both cases, the sampling must never be done when it freezes; the ideal is to operate after the rain, when the soil is well sodden.

How to take?

How to take?

The roots of a tree form a complex network that often draws far into the earth the water and food that the plant needs. To guarantee the tree that we want to take chances of recovery, we must hurt the least possible roots and rootlets. The plant must never be pulled out, but dug it out, that is, digging around the foot, as deep as necessary, to extract all the roots, and the maximum of the earth that surrounds them. It will be interesting, too, to take the soil around the tree, so as to promote its recovery, by modifying as little as possible its compost of culture, during the plantation in section. The removal of a clod as intact as possible is more important for hardwoods than for conifers, the latter being able to be practically transplanted with bare roots, while retaining good chances of recovery.

How to transport?

How to transport?

Since the main function of the roots is to allow the tree to "drink", it is easy to understand that the essential precaution during transport is to keep them always moist. The most ecological is to take a little foam in the nature, which surrounds the ball after wetting. If there is no foam, take cotton. The mound thus coated should be wrapped in a plastic bag or in aluminum foil. If the transport continues beyond a few days, it will moisten the root ball again.
Some advocate dressing the roots and foliage prior to transport, soon after collection. This operation involves cutting some of the leaves and root tips. Its dual function is to limit evaporation in the leaves, and to facilitate the assimilation of water in the roots. It is also an opportunity to restore harmony between branches and roots.

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