This is my third IWP and I'm going for a roots that in due course may be used in a Roots-Over-Rock future taller rock bonsai.  This prepared bonsai stock seems to have nice roots formed on all sides. The training pot was prepared with tie-down wires, coarse gravel, plastic tent, body media and, of course, Nutrient Granules.
By Thomas Matkey (Glendora, California) Beginner Study Group

               Thomas was introduced in the June 2014 Journal issue and his first report is posted at  As you can tell from the beautiful photographs,  Tom is a good photographer and I asked him (and all other Journal writers) to use a plain white background (such as a sheet),  to take photos in bright indirect light without flash so there's a limited amount of shadows, to use a tripod to get sharp focused photos, to shoot primarily horizontal photos,  and to give me enough room to crop to do a nice layout.  Tom's photos are a great improvement over the first submittal and it is very apparent that he does a good job of researching before he starts and does a great job! ~~~David



               Here's a pair of photos of the roots after unpotting and removing the old media and after I tied the roots around a flattish stone to separate the roots into two sections to later sit on the saddle of a root-over-rock planting and to bring the roots closer together and facing down.  I think this is a very nice set of roots.  I moved some of the roots around to cover all sides of the stone.


            Here's the aluminum foil collar that  I made with 1/2 inch (more or less) pleats in the foil.  Media has been added and the plant positioned.  Then I wrapped the foil around the root system and squeezed hard to get everything  held firmly by the foil.

           Then the cone was formed for the rest of the media.  There weren't many roots that reached the bottom portion but I did push those to the outside of the cone. The cone was filled with media that was packed tightly.  I did have trouble here, because I would pack it tight and the foil came open at the seam.  I must remember to keep the seam in my hand.  (Editor:  Or use some masking or other tape to partially support and keep the seam from opening)


         I put a piece of plastic to cover the top of the cone, turned it over, and positioned it in place in the pot.  I poked air holes in the foil, removed the plastic,  and tied it down.


          Next comes a 30-minute first soaking to thoroughly saturate and especially wet down  the dry organic components in the potting media. And don't forget to water what's in the foil column.  I used a wash bottle for this. 

                CONCLUSION.     This was a fun project.  I had minor troubles twice --- when I was tying the roots to the rock ---  it was a very thin, flat rock and it was tricky to get the plant in the right spot and to tie the twine around it ---  and then pushing too hard on the foil cone and having it split at the seam.  Troublesome rather than real trouble.     - - - Tom Matkey


               For those formally in the Beginner Study Group,  we recommend four Introductory Workshop Packages and there are four basic ways to complete the IWP to learn basic SUMO and ROOTS techniques.  In his workshop at Fuku-Bonsai he got a demonstration on basic roots and did a sumo with another sumo after he arrived home.  In both cases he had selected trees with nice root systems and used the accent rock under the tree t push out the roots and start creation of a prominent sumo trunk-root base.  He planted it high and used a temporary foil collar to help it get established. If the tree had roots only on one side, the standard sumo practice is to use the accent rock to offset the weak area while also creating an attractive scene.

                 I believe that his third IWP (and his first roots) has been one of the best IWP Roots reports. Tom has a good sense of how to keep plants growing well and has a meticulous nature and a strong interest in learning new techniques.  I am confident that with knowledge of proper technique and if he can formulate a good economical potting mix of the materials available in his area,  that he'll have the basis for an enjoyable and productive bonsai hobby. 

                 Tom purchase two small size Dwarf Schefflera lava plantings while visiting Hawaii over 10 years ago and while he has grown them in a method we don't recommend,  he's kept them alive,  have rooted several cuttings,  and rock planted those untrained cuttings into rocks.  

                 For his fourth IWP,  I recommended that he take on a non-standard challenge to do a rock planting.  He had previous done a few rock plantings on his own and I wanted to teach him techniques that I believe are better.  His fourth report is posted at:   

          Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2014