The Joys of Chojubai-
I’ll find any excuse to share photos of Chojubai!
A few of these photos are of older trees blooming in my yard this spring, in their new antique pots. (Love that oxymoron, ‘new antique’—new to me, but also old to me and everyone else). I’ve also included photos of younger plants I’m growing.
‘Chojubai’ is the cultivar name for a dwarf form of Japanese Flowering quince. Because of the scarcity of Chojubai bonsai in the United States, and because I enjoy working with them, a few years ago I started growing them in some volume. Even though the ability to develop woody plants is nearly unparalleled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, it’ll still take me about 8 years to make a product I’m happy with, ready for a bonsai pot. In the meantime I’ll share a few of the Chojubai I’ve got going here, in various stages.
To date, pots with Chojubai outnumber all other plants combined in my yard… although I’d NEVER admit to any favoritism. Really, they just multiply whenever I turn around, I have nothing to do with it. Randy critters. I think they need a lecture on safe propagation. Until I do that, I’ll keep potting up the newcomers.
For more about Chojubai including some famous trees from Japan, see my earlier post Diminutive Jewels.
12″ H, 22″ W. One of the older Chojubai I have. This one seems to start growing a bit later than others and only flowers once a year, but has great bark. In a pot that is not antique but maybe 40 years old, and must have been used for at least 39 of those years as it has a lovely patina developing on its surface, softly greying the cream glaze.
10″ H. This modest-sized tree is in a nakawatari Chinese shirokouchi, which is fancy bonsai lingo for: The pot came from China about 150 years ago and has a cream glaze. Pot supplied by Maestro Matt Reel.
16″ H. Although about as old as the first one, maybe 40 years, this tree doesn’t have quite as good bark, but it grows more vigorously and blooms 2-3 times a year. Bark is related to age, but more significantly for Chojubai, it’s related to genetics. So if we’ve got a young plant and don’t know where it came from, we won’t know when or if it will develop that wonderfully craggy, checked bark that adds so much to their beauty in the winter. One 25-year-old plant I have still has none of that characteristic bark.
11″ H. This Chojubai was grown by Anne Spencer since 1990 from a three year old plant. Container by Sara Rayner. Anne was meticulous in her notes, and they read: “Purchased at GSBF convention from Roy Nagatoshi. Is cutting from original plant near Nagatoshi’s nursery, originally from Japan. $7.50–3 yr. cutting. Planted into garden for winter.” This little tree blooms a couple times a year. We all miss Anne.
20″ wide. This rascal has been growing in my yard for a couple of years, bought as a 6-7 year old plant from Telperion Farms. Blooms several times a year, if I let it. Which I don’t.
More rascals in the back-forty, also originally from Telperion Farms a couple years ago.
A rascal-to-be. Cuttings taken last year from the old multiple-trunk tree on this post, the first photo. Love the bark on that tree! Some of these cuttings were trying to bloom less than a year from growing roots. I don’t make this stuff up! They’re crazy plants.