Big Dwarf Yaupon Holly Yamadori (Ok, it’s an ilex schilling, last one for a while, promise)

I’ve been waiting two years to work on this magnificent specimen of a tree. The man who collected it had a keen eye that day, indeed.
It’s a 30-40 year old ilex schillings that I collected from a friend’s hedge.
The ilex vomitoria “schillings” or sometimes called “stoke’s dwarf” (I cannot find anywhere why these two names “schillings” and “stokes” are associated with this dwarf cultivar.) is a very popular foundation planting in Florida and the South and is often described as “the meatball” in the landscape trade. It responds very well to pruning and will form a dense hedge.
This tree was six feet tall (about 2 meters) when I collected it. Now it’s about 2 feet tall.
I believe this was a corner of the hedge (my friend called it the granny hedge. He wanted a more tropical look)
Side view
I’m going to tilt it forward a little
And, as you can see from above, it needs some thinning.
Like so
Now I need to clean that black gunk off. It’s either mold or a type of slime.
It doesn’t hurt the tree but its ugly. IMO
Using my son’s favorite toothbrush (I can no longer use my wife’s. she’s started reading the blog and hiding her toothbrush so I switched to my son. He’s a teenager and a know-it-all and at the Age of Unbelieving. And he doesn’t read his dear-old-dad’s blog) I scrub the black gunk away. If you want you can mix a teaspoon of dish soap or Listerine into a gallon of water. I didn’t.
All clean though

Now I must address the dressing of some knobs (you went your whole life without that image in your head and I go and ruin it for you).


When I say knobs I mean the dead, chunky bits that were cut back.
Recently, on a forum, it was asked whether one needed specialized bonsai tools or if standard garden pruners were sufficient. In order to do the detail work above, the cutting surfaces, the geometry and leverage that a good bonsai tool give makes that kind of work “like buttah!”
In order to adjust the angle from here

To here

I’ll need to do a repotting.
And I might as well put it into a container that at least resemble a bonsai pot (although the round feed bowl it’s in is ideal for training).
First before the first though. I must remove this tree

from its pot (yes, the tree is another ilex) so I can use it (the rectangle pot) and swap out the round for the rectangle. If you follow.

Unpot, unpot, repot,repot. If you get the sequence.
Reset the tie downs and clean the pot between switcheroos

To fit the tree into its new pot I have to trim one big root.

Which is incredibly hard to see there.
How’s this?

And it fits. Mostly. And I used every last bit of soil I had doing this too.

There are some roots on the back that I don’t want to come off. To protect them I just cover them with sphagnum moss

And there it is in its new home.

Now for some wire.
When it comes to wiring, there is nothing more boring to read about than how to place it on the branches. And writing about it is just as boring.
If you want to learn, I suggest you find someone who you think is good at it, buy a bottle of expensive tequila, and ask for a lesson………Patron is a good brand……
Without further distractions-
Right side

Left side

All together now

A couple of more details.
The branch on the left and the trunk on the right might go eventually

Not yet though.
And these two spots will need carving


Not yet on these either. That’s a subject for another post.
And now, what you’ve been waiting for- the glamor shots!
Right side!

Left side!


The before!!!

The Middle!

The Sketch!!!!

And the (finally…)

Except for updates this is the last ilex post this year. Promise. Maybe.
Be sure to share, like, follow and all that. I don’t know if you’re reading otherwise.
If you have a request, please feel free to ask me to write up a post. If I don’t know the answers I’ll be sure to make something up that at least sounds plausible.

Ilex flattop!

I warned ya’ll that I had a flattop ilex in the works. Here’s how it came to be:

In the beginning, we had some small yamadori that needed collecting.
T’were growing amidst the roots of a mighty live oak and friend Nick called me hither and said
“do ya wanna get ‘em?”
I did.
Growing in the roots of the oak, the ilex’s own roots were not very good (greedy oak). I didn’t actually expect the ilex to live. I was subsequently loathe to cut them back too much. We collected maybe 5 or 6 I think. He kept the better ones and I got what was left.
Here we are now.



Kinda unremarkable.
My original plan was to let it grow and then stub it back to make a little pig (that’s a true bonsai style…look it up)
But….after looking at it for a year or so, I have a plan….
Which you might know already if you paid attention and read the title, I guess.
Anyway, I’m glad I did not cut it back to a nub.
I like this branch:

And this bend in the trunk is cool too.

And the base (not much of a spreading nebari like a maple but this is a collected tree) is decent:


Since this will be a flat top I’m going to remove the bottom branches.


It has subtle and graceful line. It’s sweet and refreshing, almost like a spring rain.
A little wire..

And before I get the emails about how loose the wire is, I did that on purpose. Look up Mary Miller ( and “air wiring”.
Anyway,continuing on..

The characteristics we look for with a flat top are: a series of V’s and U’s that grow up and create a, uh, flat foliage pad at the…

Cypress trees are good examples in nature to look at.
The flattop differs from the pierneef style exemplified by African savannah trees

Which could be described as an open-umbrella style. It would have a rounded top.
I could go either way with this tree

Let’s out it into a pot and see how well the roots have developed.

Well, that’s a surprise!
A little wash and trim

And we’re ready for a pot.
Those roots are very well developed. When I collected it, I used a bonsai soil based mix with a little more pine bark than usual; I guess that did the trick. I am terrifically tickled with these roots. Really.


One more picture of that amazingly natural branch

And now some views. This kind of tree will have many possible fronts and I’ve wired the branches to facilitate this.



A couple of sketches for you too


This has gone from a so-so tree to one of my new favorites.