This is the third in a series of eight choice high-quality plants being trained in a full range of styling in very shallow saucer-pots by Ron Davis of Montana.  To see other of his articles on this website, go to his portal page at      

By Ron Davis (Montana)

      These two rocks are sandstone that were found on Storm Castle trail near my home.

      The larger rock was ground down to make a concavity for roots and the bottom was sawed to make a level base.  The bottom of the smaller rock was ground to make it flat. 3 copper wires were fastened to the large rock by drilling and using split shot and a little glue to secure the wires for supporting the plant. After drilling ¼ inch drainage holes around the outlines of the rocks they were glued to the saucer with professional grade Liquid Nails and allowed to setup for 24 hours.

      The plant and its new home.  Note the wonderful hole that nature so thoughtfully placed in the middle of the thin rock. This was a rare find along the rocky trail. Although both rocks have a slanting profile the juxtaposition of them is such that the angles are cancelled out and the overall energy direction is vertical. This plant was chosen for its two branches each of which will be placed over the upper edge of a rock.  Hopefully there will be a long root that can be fed through the hole and downward. Note the plastic separator that will go between the coarse bottom lava and the body media. Media was mixed with ½ teaspoon of Nutrient Granules per cup.
      All wrapped up and ready to grow! Some of the foil is against rock and some holds media. It took time to carefully work the media down among the roots and wires. The trunk of the plant was positioned low to give the impression of a strong tree busting up between two rocks.  Hopefully this design will look interesting from several positions; there is no specific front view.  It was possible to guide a couple of long slender roots through the mysterious hole.  Sure hope they make it. 
      Details of the branch placement.  Each rock has a nice branch extending over the top edge. Note roots coming over the top of the large rock.  This required using a high collar to hold media that will cover much of the roots with some exposure at the top.
      IMPRESSIONS BY RON:  After several hikes up the trail I was fortunate to find such interesting rocks.  The one with the hole is especially nice because it is so thin.  The large rock has an appealing shape with numerous indentations but it required a lot of drilling and grinding to hollow out ample space for roots. Rock material was easier to remove with a bench grinder than with a carbide drill bit.  I decided to wedge the tree between the rocks for a “low down” look that adds interest when viewed so that the trunk is seen between the rocks. Time will tell if the growing trunk will push the rocks apart. This is a very interesting design and patience will be required to resist peeling away the foil too soon. (September 4, 2011)


      COMMENTS BY DAVID:  I predict this tree will be Ron's "break-through tree" and from now he'll be on a very self-motivated and enjoyable bonsai journey!  To now, his trees were developing nicely and he was building skills for growing them vigorously.  But he was tentative and unsure of himself.  After his latest visit,  I was sure that Ron had a wonderful and strong personality that I really wanted to see expressed in bonsai based upon original concepts and designs.  By pushing him to get the needed supplies and several promising trees at the same time, I hoped it would widen his vision to allow him to see exciting concepts in books or in the world around him.  I think this effort was very satisfying for Ron and I'm delighted!  Look out world, here comes Ron!

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