Victoria Island, Natures Costal Bonsai

In one of the most recent podcasts (I think it was the one with the new Mirai crew) Ryan mentioned Victoria Island and where they do storm watching on the western side of the island, and the effect on the trees there. The area is very close to and very similar to the Olympic Peninsula, which Ryan also frequently mentions. Then in the 2 part, Thuja stream Ryan mentioned the stunting nature of bogs, which created the tree he was working on. I saw first hand both of these conditions and the amazing trees they produce. My family went to Victoria Island in late Aug and stayed in Ucluelet. The beauty of this place can’t be done justice with my crappy phone pics, but given Ryan’s recent comments in the podcast and on the stream, I thought I would share some of the better pictures I took for my own design inspiration. If you ever have the chance to go here, I can’t recommend it enough.

This was the sign at the start of a hiking trail that went around a bog. It explains why the bog creates these naturally stunted trees. Unfortunately, it was too dark on the trail and none of the pictures turned out well enough to post but imagine a marshy area with brush and spotted with shore pines, mountain hemlock, and western red cedars that looked like the tree in the thuja stream.


In the thuja stream, Ryan kept talking about the “thujuness” of branch movement. Living in the mountains just east of Seattle I am constantly amazed at the branch movement thuja plicata are capable of. It’s something I’m really excited to explore in the development of this species for bonsai.

Trees on Trees

There was a podcast (I think it was Juan Andrade from Nov 28, 2017) where the guest mentioned wanting to grow a bonsai tree on another tree like he sees where he’s from. I frequently saw small trees growing in the built-up moss and organic matter on the branches of older trees. Here’s one growing in the hollow of another tree.

Rock Plantings

Talk about a rock slab forest planting,

This looked to me like a bonsai forest was planted in a Jonathan Cross style pot.

White Spruce

The ability for these coastal white spruce to grow in the cracks of these rocks right on the beach and survive the harsh winter storm conditions is amazing. I think this species has a lot of potential for bonsai.

There really were a lot of these little guys growing on so many rocks. The wind blows so strong in from the ocean these seeds can’t get here on their own, they must be dropped by birds or squirrels.

Even though most of these were barely shohin size, the conditions are so tough even these small trees must be very old.

Sometimes multiple trees would cover these rocks and the conditions kept them swept back and low to the surface of the rock to the point it almost looked like ground cover. The trees in the front would die back creating a barrier that protected the rest of the plants.

Design Inspiration
Finally, I’ll end with a bunch of pictures showing the effects the extreme storm conditions have on these trees. I took these pictures for future design inspiration. In most cases, it wasn’t the shape of the tree that interested me but the movement of a specific branch or the way the foliage pads had developed.