Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ilex Opaca #1 - Eastern American Holly

Ilex Opaca - Eastern American Holly
Age: About 1yr 4m

This common North American broadleaf evergreen bush appeared in the front garden along with a host of other seedlings I dug up this spring. It was growing in some compacted clay soil and had a very meager root structure, almost looking like the root on a tooth instead of a tree. I repotted it not expecting much and hoping that it would recover by some miracle.

The tree was planted into 100% Napa 8822 diatomaceous earth. The complete lack of a root structure to support the tree meant that I needed to support it artificially so I used two rocks from the front garden to do so. Repotting this in March before there was any signs of life may have been a bad idea.  

It was nearly two months before the plant showed any signs of life at all. At first a tiny raised bud appeared on the stronger branch, before a slightly smaller bud appeared on the lower left. These slowly grew to eventually, two months later, grow into new leaves. It was mid-May before any signs of life appeared on the tree.The holly slowly pushed more leaves out through the rest of June and July, finally beginning to slow down in early August.

My plan for this tree is to grow it as a shohin sized tree. Stylistically this means a tree which from the rim of the pot to it's apex is under ten inches tall. This means consistently pruning to maintain a finished tree at this height is a difficult study in horticulture and styling abilities. The base of this tree's trunk is very naturally twisted and would lend to this style nicely in the future.