Steve’s Ponderosa

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Hello everyone! Just to break the silence and let you all know that we haven’t fallen off a cliff.. here’s a short post. This is a ponderosa pine that Steve collected (I believe in 2012, but he can correct me if I’m wrong). It was styled by Owen Reich in the spring of 2014, and then potted with Michael Hagedorn this spring. I think it’s coming along great! Enjoy. 🙂

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The shots below are this trees progression over the last few years. Owen did some serious bending to compact the crown. He hardly removed anything.. if anything.. from the tree, but still managed a nice compact design. Great work Owen! 🙂



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Keep an eye on the blog and the website. There should be new trees available either late this month or early May!

Happy Spring!

The Artisans Cup Retrospective

My only regret about the Artisans Cup was that, being a vendor, I didn’t have time to really slow down to appreciate and study the trees. I was able to take several walks through the exhibit but they always felt rushed as I needed to get back to my booth. Thankfully this amazing site provides the opportunity to re-gain most of what I felt I missed, plus a lot more!

This is Jonas’ great write up about the site. And if you ask me, the site is worth every penny! 🙂


A Second Cork-Bark Ponderosa



Late last spring I stumbled upon a second Ponderosa Pine, within about a mile of the first, also featuring very obvious corking bark. Many of the wings on this one are even larger! I’m hopeful, with two in the area so far, that I might be able to find a bonsai worthy/available candidate. We’ll see, and if nothing else I’ll take a few scions and graft them to Ponderosa seedlings.

I’m doing some research in hopes of finding out more about these corked trees. When/if I find any good information I’ll be sure to pass it along. The corking on this second tree has developed very similarly to the first tree I found, so I’m fairly certain that they must either share some genes, or have been infected or damaged in the same way. I really don’t know what exactly causes this corking, but I’m hopeful that some of the forestry crowd out there may have answers.

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Enjoy the pictures!



I brought a couple of small dead branches home from this one.



Stay tuned, and If any of you have more information on this subject I’d love to learn more.


Follow up to the Crataegus Post


Baby pictures of a few Backcountry trees at Michael Hagedorn’s! This post is simply a (mostly photographic) follow up to Michael’s post featuring a few of our trees that we delivered before the Artisans Cup.

We’re very excited to have Michael and his students working some of our best trees. We hope there will be at least a few show winners in there, and we think Michael is one of the most talented artists in the country. It’s an honor to be working with him. 🙂 Check out his work here:

ps.. sign up for his ‘Seasonals’ if you want to have a hand in working on these trees or many of his other amazing trees. 😉

Oh! And you’ll have a chance to buy these trees when they are ready! (Shameless plug… cough.. cough) — Just be patient… the trees have been in “feild training” for many years, and they have a few more years to go before it’s time to make thier debut at a show.

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What it looks like packing the beasts out:

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New Projects From Backcountry Bonsai-

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A preview of some conifer yamadori trees in queue for styling in the next couple of years at Crataegus Bonsai. Trees are courtesy of Backcountry Bonsai, the collecting duo of Steve Varland and Dan Wiederrecht. These six trees are Rocky Mountain junipers and Ponderosa pines, although Steve and Dan also collect Limber pine, Lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir. They are very careful and considerate collectors.

They have some good stories about collecting…once there was a mountain lion keeping an eye on them in the mountains while they collected…these trees come with a fair amount of physical and other kinds of sweating.

You can find them, their trees, and the mountain lion story on their website:



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Nebraska Bound – A Juni’ and a ‘Porky’

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It’s rare for us to have visitors at Backcountry Bonsai; we’re a bit off the beaten path for most bonsai enthusiasts. There are however a few great people who stop in every so often. Our friends from Nebraska, Scott, Loren and Haidar have been through twice now, and we have a great time with them! They collect some killer trees of their own, but they always take time to see what we’ve been finding, and occasionaly make purchases or trades. (There are now two of what I consider to have been personal favorites residing (or about to reside) in Nebraska… maybe I shouldn’t let them look next time.. lol!!) Be sure to check out Scott’s site: Blue River Bonsai. You will often find collected trees available, as well as other great bonsai and pots by the talented Stephanie Walker.

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The purpose of this post is simply to introduce a few friends and to show a couple of trees that you likely haven’t seen yet. Both trees are headed for Nebraska in the near future, to the care of Loren Buxton. He’s the president of the Nebraska Bonsai Society, and runs a great blog called Branch Work. Loren also showed one of his amazing hornbeams at The Artisans Cup in September. It was quite an accomplishment to have a tree accepted to this event! (Congrats Loren!!) — I look forward to following the progress of the trees on his blog, and invite you to do the same! 🙂

First up is the ponderosa pine that Steve has dubbed ‘Porky’. This tree hasn’t been posted online yet, other than a photo or two from the Nebraska boys of me holding it, still in the collection bag.

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On very rare occasions we find a tree that seems like it’s just been waiting and hoping to become a bonsai tree for a very long time. It’s even more rare for that tree to be collectible. Porky is one of those trees! The tree already looks like a bonsai, and NOTHING has been done to it apart from collection, no training what-so-ever. And it’s not an “onion” base, as most all ponderosa’s like this are. It can only get better from here! 🙂

Enjoy the photo’s:

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The second tree headed for NE is a nice Rocky Mountain Juniper we collected in 2014. This is another one that is very ready for life as a bonsai. Great movement, taper, deadwood, curving and twisting live viegn, compact root system… it has it all! 🙂

The tree has so many “good sides” it was hard not taking too many photo’s…

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We hope you like the trees we find! Keep an eye on our site next spring for some amazing new trees. And if you happen to be in the neighborhood stop by; You might just find something you like just as much as one of these trees. 🙂 Winter is finally setting in here in WY, but we’ll be sure to put up a few posts to keep you entertained.

We also have some exciting new developments with a couple of professional artists, so be sure to stay with us.

Blessings, and stay warm.


Third Place Tie Announced for the Artisans Cup

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Many of you are familiar now with the prize winners of the Artisans Cup. This week it was found that a fourth tree was a winner as well…scoring the same 50 points as the Third Place winner. Along with Amy Blanton’s Rocky Mountain Juniper, the Japanese White Pine of Konnor Jenson will also be awarded third place.

An accompanying award certificate, plaque, and $3,000 purse will be awarded to both Mr. Jenson and Ms. Blanton. Congratulations to them both!

Konnor Pine Artisans Cup Sharing Third Place at the Artisans Cup is Konnor Jenson’s Japanese White Pine

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