Mailing Address:
     PO Box 148
     Lyons,  OR  97358

  Home phone: (503) 859-3697
  Shipping Address:
     10750 Wagner Road
      Mehama, OR  97384 

  Cell Phone: (503) 881-1147
About Us
Tree Index
Satsuki Index
Just for Shohin
Other Stuff

About Us

Chris & Lisa Kirk have been avid bonsai hobbyists for many years.  In the many moves around the country necessitated by Chris’s work, they have come to know bonsai people and businesses in many states.   With the return to the northwest, and an opportunity to “settle down” they created Telperion Farms – a tree farm dedicated to growing material specifically for bonsai.  This purpose was intensified with the USDA quarantine requirements for  importation of bonsai from Japan.

 Telperion Farms is 104 acres on the side of a mountain in the Cascades, about 20 miles east of Salem, Oregon.  Travel time from Salem is about 30 minutes.

In 2004, we purchased the majority of the satsuki stock and specimen plants from El Dorado Bonsai in Placerville, CA.  This launched us into the world of satsuki azaleas, provided us stock for propagation and development, and gave us a nice inventory of world-class specimen satsuki.  We are now propagating and developing over 90 varieties of satsuki azalea. 

Why we need to grow trees differently for bonsai

The commercial nursery industry has developed over the years to established "standards".  This allows a buyer to know that a "number one" tree is a certain age, trunk of certain diameter, etc.  For landscaping purposes, the industry usually produces trees that have straight trunks.  Pines, firs, etc. are usually developed in the Christmas tree style.  Deciduous trees are usually developed with straight trunks and no low branches.  This recipe obviously doesn't tend to produce the type of tree sought by bonsai artists.

How we grow trees

You've seen the process described in bonsai books and magazines time and time again: 

root prune the young seedlings to develop 360 degree root spread, prune to develop low branches and sacrifice branches, wire the trunks for movement, etc., etc., etc. .....

We actually do these things.  See the blog for pictures of trees in development.

Most commercial nursery stock is potted and/or up-potted taking care not to disturb the roots.  Disturbing the roots does tend to slow the growth and development of the tree.  In contrast, when developing stock for bonsai, the roots are exposed, undesirable roots are pruned off, and the seedling is planted with the roots distributed radially to promote 360 degree root spread.  This choice does sacrifice rapid development of the upper tree for better development of the roots and nebari.   The top will catch up later.

To the right, you see a shimpaku cutting  that has been lifted from a propagation tray.  The roots have been pruned and teased out for best radial distribution.   The cutting is planted just like this, in a RootMaker® pot.   The RootMaker® pots "air prune" roots when they reach the pot wall.   Rather than letting roots lengthen and circle in the pot, roots are stimulated to develop dense ramification.

To the left, a shimpaku that has been grown for a year in a RootMaker® pot and root pruned again.   At this point, the tree could be planted in a bonsai pot, a larger nursery pot, or planted in a Root Control bag for field-growing.  At Telperion Farms, "field grown" trees are not just grown in the ground.  Trees are grown in a very porous potting mix, contained in a Root Control bag.  The bag has effects similar to RootMaker® pots.  The trees are not allowed to develop large tap roots.  Roots are "pruned"  when they reach the wall of the bag, and root ramification is further developed.  Some trees are placed on tiles, within the Root Control bags.  When you purchase a tree grown at Telperion Farms, the tree will have spent it's whole life in a growing medium similar to bonsai potting soil.






To the right, a Japanese black pine which has been field-grown in a Root Control bag.  Note the nice development of nebari, and the profusion of low branches.

The Satsuki Azaleas

The development process for satsuki azaleas differs somewhat.  We combine the traditional Japanese technique, designed to overcome the azalea's natural tendency to grow as a bush, with our use of special containers.

A satsuki azalea, which has been grown as whip.  At this stage, some branching is allowed to develop, and some subtle movement is imparted by growing the whip around a bamboo stake.  Some varieties are offered for sale at this stage, but most are moved on for field growing.

A satsuki in a root control bag.  During the field-growing stage, the trees are allowed to grow  without pruning.  Several years of this growth leads to the trunk and nebari development seen on specimen azaleas.   Field growing at Telperion Farms is not just a matter of putting the trees in the ground.  The root control bags are filled with kanuma.  This mimics the Japanese tradition of growing satsuki in raised beds of kanuma.

A specimen satsuki azalea, after years of branch selection, wiring and pruning to balance the strength of the tree.  This tree was imported from Japan prior to the ban.