Nurse Log Imagination #2 ~

‘Nurse logs’ are a central feature of Pacific Northwest forest ecology. When an old Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir or Western Red Cedar is downed by a storm, young plants—some of them trees—germinate on top of them and the roots colonize the massive decomposing trunk. Later, straight rows of 500 year old trees are found in these forests, having grown from fallen logs.

Early 2020 felt like the moment to make a couple nurse logs, something I’d been dreaming about for years. Last spring I was thinking of regeneration on several levels: 1. an old log being the support on which young ones grow, 2. that both logs we used were actually from a forest fire, and showed charring, and 3. as a wondering, creative reaction to how we were to grow anew from a pandemic.


A nurse log, April 2020, planted with Western Hemlock seedlings, huckleberry and twinflower.


A forest fire passed through the area we found this log.


Our second composition, planted with Western Hemlock, salal and huckleberry, April 2020. This was a cedar stump that was also in a forest fire. We’ll re-post about these as the nurse logs decompose, and the saplings age. But given that these are essentially large, wonky kusamono, I’m curious when they will transition into being Hemlock bonsai. Not for many years I suspect.

The second composition and more about Pacific Northwest forest ecology was featured in Nurse Log Imagination.

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  1. Steve Warburton says:

    I love these compositions Michael. You’re doing something I am looking forward to tackling which is to make bonsai representative of your local ecology. Really enjoy the growth and renewal aspect of this too. Will be fun to watch develop…decompose? over the years!

    • crataegus says:

      It will be fun to watch then transform, I’m not entirely sure what that will look like! And clueing into local ecology, good, I think it’s an engaging way to keep grounded in our bubble of reality. Not that dreaming far afield isn’t fun, too… because we can travel and take that home to our bonsai, too. Travelogue bonsai?

  2. I love the concept and the composition, real nature in miniature. Simply Beautiful and Brilliant.

  3. Todd Ellis says:

    Intriguing and inspiring! Thank you!

  4. Barbara phillips says:

    Thanks for your expansive view of beauty and bonsai. These are great.

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