Happy to provide!
The digging team was me, my wife, my partner, and our Cavapoo (who did no digging but enjoyed the fresh air). The dig site was 2.5 hours away; we took our Prius sedan hatchback, e.g. our largest vehicle, and assumed we’d be bringing home short/compact material.
We expected to spend 5 hours driving, 1.5 hours looking, and 1.5 hours digging. We ended up spending an extra 4 hours on digging and aftercare; we left the house at 8:30 AM and didn’t do our final soak of the material until 8:30 PM.
THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT:
- It was a perfect day for bonsai: it had recently rained, it was overcast but not rainy, it was ~60F, and the bugs weren’t awake yet.
- We had exactly the tools we needed for extraction: sharp round-nosed shovel, pickaxe, saws.
- We found more material than we expected; I guessed it was 50/50 that we’d find anything we liked, but we found two American elms and an American beech that we liked – which was way more than we could take: see below.
THINGS THAT WENT WRONG:
- We didn’t bring a handcart. We should have brought a handcart. The material we collected weighted 68 pounds, most of it solid clay. It was not fun to carry 68 pounds of solid clay uphill through a forest.
- It took a LOT longer to get the material out of the ground than I expected. Again: solid clay.
- We brought paper towels to wrap the rootball in. Paper towels tear easily. We should’ve brought a sheet.
- Our eyes were bigger than our car/hands. We identified three pieces of material, but given space and time constraints, we only took one – but we started trenching two. (We refilled the trench, but it was a waste of time and we definitely cut some roots. Whoops.)
WHAT WE TOOK:
One piece of material. We think it’s an American elm based on the bark, that it’s deciduous, and where it was found.
It’s about 18" tall with ~4" nebari.
The attraction was the strength of the big root stage right and the curve between it and the trunk. I think we’ll eventually end up reducing the material to roughly where the deadwood branch is about 12" up. We might also end up wedge cutting it in the middle of that trunk portion so it curves more dramatically stage left. But it’s early days, and who knows if it’ll survive.
Another shot of the nebari. From this angle and the side angle pictured above, they look really strong and good – but from all other angles, there clearly aren’t big roots on the opposite side. Clever positioning plus branch balancing required in future years to stop it from looking like it’s falling over.