The seed for this Alder was collected in the autumn of 1987, from a local tree, planted in standard seed compost and left outside to germinate. For the first three years growth was very slow. I decided to do some research into Alders and found out that they grew close to water. From then on I stood it in water during the summer and it immediately started to grow very fast. In the spring of 1992 it was planted in a washing up bowel, stood in a tray of water and fed every two weeks with Chem pack No 8. By the end of the year I was standing it in half strength Chem Pack solution and the growth was strong and fast. In the winter it was pruned back hard to create a good trunk taper. The hard pruning also had the effect of creating a lot of back budding which was also allowed to grow, the effect of this was to fatten the trunk up very quickly. This method of growing and pruning hard continued until the winter of 1997 when the first of the branches were selected and wired into place.

Alder bonsai

In the spring of 1998 it was planted into its present pot. The next three years were spent developing the branches. However I could not slow the growth rate down enough to get a shorter inter node length and normal size leaf. While the tree had been stood in fertilizer, to fast grow the trunk, the leaf had been at least twice the normal size and the inter node length up to 150mm. In 2000 I read that Alders could transfix atmospheric nitrogen in root nodules formed by a bacterium called Frankia, so I stopped feeding any form of nitrogen. 0-10-10 fertilizer is now used once a month. Leaf size is still a problem, the only way to keep them down in size is through heavy leaf pruning. Although it never became pot bound, the alder has been re-potted several times. This was to allow me to lay the roots out and also to cut away all the roots under the trunk to help to flare the base of the tree.

Alder Roots

Root base

Alder Bark

Alder bark