Late 2012 I collected my first blackthorn from a coastal limestone scree slope. The long wait for new growth to appear then began. As Spring arrived and the local blackthorn hedgerows burst into life, the buds on my specimen slowly began to swell (actually, just two buds!) Survival seemed uncertain and I made another visit to collect a few more specimens from the same area.
The Prunus back on the hill were rather more advanced than my own at home, and the new leaves and flowers were beginning to emerge. They were perhaps a little too advanced for optimum survival chances, but I decided to try a few more small trees. I collected three trees together with one interconnected root - hoping that this may stand a greater chance of survival. I also collected a separate, fourth tree which I cut away from its connected neighbours. All four trees were then planted together in a wooden box.
The emerging leaves on the other trees also withered. My blackthorn collection appeared to be a complete failure. I spoke to Simon Jones of the Cheshire Bonsai Society who has collected a lot of blackthorn and had good success. He recommended a technique where once collected, the potted trees are tied up in black bin bags and kept warm until they begin to grow. There are many more trees on the hill where these came from, so I will try again, using Simon's technique.
Just as I was about to throw away the group of Prunus last week, I noticed some green leaves in the box, initially mistaking them for weeds. I then realised that they were blackthorn leaves!
I removed the moss to reveal three shoots growing from the base of one of the three connected trees. I assume that being dark and humid under the moss, this area of growth had survived being in similar conditions to the bin bag technique! Whether there will be anything salvageable here for bonsai, is uncertain but I am pleased to see this growth and look forward to collecting more Prunus with hopefully better luck.