Going through my WordPress draft, I found this entry that I never posted. This was part of my account when I went on a collecting trip with friend Ryan Huston, fellow blogger and part of Puget Sound Bonsai Association RY2TREE2. I was using my phone to record the entry below at the time:
“Finally fulfilled one of my bucket list on my bonsai experience, yamadori collecting. A friend from our local club and a fellow blogger Ryan Huston invited me to go bonsai collecting. Ryan met a fellow bonsai enthusiast Rick Katzin (Roberts Mountain Bonsai Project)who has acres of property in Grants Pass Oregon. Rick invited us to come out and dig at his property. Ryan and I took a 6 hour drive to Grants Pass Oregon from Seattle. Through a set of instructions (not Google maps) from Rick, we traveled a narrow graveled road. Like kids on scavenger hunt we tried to decipher those instructions like clues to a puzzle. We turned around (rather carefully move my truck around so we don’t accidentally slide into a ravine) unsure if we missed a turn. After a nervous climb through this narrow graveled road, we got to a plateau. Right in front of us were three roads going in different directions. Rick’s instruction didn’t say anything about this . We went to the left base on gut feel. A sigh of relief when we saw bonsai display in front of Rick’s cabin. His five dogs greeting us with their bark was a warm welcome rather than intimidating.”
We spent the first day just scouting the potential yamadori at the property. There were plenty. The following day we geared up on our trucks to go out and collect. Unfortunately my truck didn’t have four wheel drive and when we got to the steeper gravelly road up the mountain, Rick took us in his 4 wheel drive Ford bronco. That truck worked like a dream. Rick didn’t show us the top of the mountain the day before but with his Bronco, he took us there first. When we got there, I was blown away. Right away, I felt that the place was home for potential yamadoris. There were several Quercus Garryana (possibly variety Breweri). Ryan and I both dug up some nice ones. We teamed up collected our pieces. Ryan’s oak will only need minor improvements and probably ready to show. I got one with a very large trunk with smaller trunk growing on the side like a raft style. This spring I will find out how the collected oak will do. If it does make it, it will be incredible. Between Ryan and I, we got enough material that filled my truck. We packed that truck to I could barely squeeze anything in. We left thinking there were more left.
I’m so grateful for Rick and Shelly’s hospitality. They were so gracious to have shared their home with us. Rick driving us up the mountain was amazing. We have been invited back and very excited to revisit some of the ones we didn’t collect.
Rick dreamed of someday creating a place where he can invite folks to have great bonsai experience. He called it the Robert Mountain Bonsai Project. It would be very easy to see how that dream can become a reality.