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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Ed Clark - Round Valley Nursery

I have been actively searching for good pre-bonsai material nurseries for several years now. Everything within a 3 hour drive have been scouted and listed as potential field trips for this club. But, Ed Clark's nursery always comes up on many of my discussion with other vendors and at many different shows and convention. Especially with people that is located in Northern and Central California. So one lovely Thursday morning Big Joe and I made an impromptu trip to the Central Valley.

It took over week to lock in some sort of contact with Ed. He lives with his lovely wife Linda in the middle of basically orange groves. We literately drove in several miles of farmland with nothing much around. As you can see from the picture below. Not a single soul in sight. I have to say it was one peaceful way to go home to everyday. By the way, if you do not have any sort of GPS in your car you will get lost in the maze of orange groves in the area.

After some more driving in this remote area. We finally met up with Ed at his nursery. You really do not understand the scale until you start walking around this place and notice that everything a specific function and location at this 3 acre nursery.

Ed Clark was once a commercial Japanese Maple and Magnolia grower for a major company and his nursery still shows the skill he learned from that.Yes, all this work and material you see was basically to grow stuff for Ed's personal bonsai usage. Then, again I think his need to propagate out strips what he can really use for himself only. Thank goodness he can propagate because he has enough stuff for everybody.

Ed currently specializing in shohin shimpaku juniper and Japanese Black Pines. Each with uniquely shaped with wire that has being cut into the tree. This technique I have seen before from other growers but not to the scale that I have seen here today. The picture you see above is a fraction what he has in size, type and scope.

He has enough of these tents and full of material to keep both Big Joe and I busy for roughly 2 hours of just looking around. Honestly, we both barely scratch the surface. I did not really get into looking until I had a chance to walk the entire property and I still could not decide what to get first. Ed did have some quality junipers and black pines ready to go if that is the material you are looking for and plenty of it too.

Did I mention that Ed has a thumb for propagating material? These are young maybe 2-3 year old twisted pomegranates and trident maples in the ground near the back of his property. He said he lost the majority of this crop to rabbits in the area.

The tridents maple pictured above are in the ground between 2 layers of weed cloth. I was really amazed of this type of inventive growing and it works. These were roughly 3-5 year old trident maples with 2.5-3 inch trunks on them. Ed explains that he come by at the end of the season and whacks all them back hard to the trunk to build taper.

Did I mention that Ed was a former propagator of Japanese Maples? He had roughly 1/2 an acre worth of Japanese maple of different cultivars and sizes. There were so many different types of Japanese maples that I have never seen before in one location it was just a sight to take in.

Big Joe was inspired by one type of Japanese maple called Mikawa Yatsubusa. He was struck by the beautifully green leaves with really tight tufts of foliage. Big Joe said he probably was not going to use it for bonsai but a landscape tree in the front of his house. I'm coming back next time to pick up couple Japanese Maple to make some shohin and awesome chuhin size.

Here are some of Ed's personal bonsai collection. This unique redwood tree was from a 5 gallon can that was knocked over 5 years ago and became a natural raft. He cut of the original top and now is a beautifully raft with minimal training.

He has several really good looking root over rock material. Mostly with trident maple that he has cut grown himself of course. Many of his ROR stock are basically ready to go into a show pot.

A cork bark pine that has 3 wings on the bark. Ed explains that there are different type of barking on pines of this species.

Ed Clark's nursery as an inspiring place to just hang out for couple hours in the day. He is a really nice guy to talk to and easily learn tons of bonsai information in a casual manner. I wish I lived closer to Ed but like all good things it must come to an end.

If you were inspired by today's post and pictures, Baikoen Bonsai Club is probably going propose at the next club meeting a field trip to Ed Clark's nursery sometime in the early Fall. So join the club and stayed tuned because this post is mostly like to continue!

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