Living in Realville   3 comments

This past weekend at the local bonsai club, we had many things going on. Since we have the monthly meetings at the botanical greenhouse at the local college, we took the opportunity to bring the plants of those that would be exhibiting in the Art and Bonsai exhibit. Also this meeting would encompass the annual ugly tree contest, as well as a slideshow of two members trip to Japan.

It is this trip to Japan I wish to focus on. The presentation was over and many questions from the viewers were taken and answered. One question stuck out.

“Now that your home, how will you look at your own collection and what will you do?”

The answer given:

“I will no longer waste my time on material that will never be anything”

While many years ago I thinned my own collection significantly by donating pieces to new members, giving them away at club raffles and selling some at the annual swapmeet. Over the last couple days I have added many new links to my own blog. With each link and the more reading I do I find that I come closer to purchasing a ticket to Realville. In Realville, one is forced to take stock of ones own collection and really assess which are going to be something, which have the potential to be something and those that will never be anything.

I chose these two plants to make my first assessment on. Two trident maples. Is there hope for either? Is one better? Which one has no future?


Both of these two maples had been cleaned and pruned back in fall. The one on the left has also been carved a little to reduce some bad chop scarring.


First concentrating on the tree on the left. The trunk exits the soil nearly verticle. This is always bad for any plant. Trunks should only exit the soil verticle if the trunk is going to keep that line all the way up. All trees look much more interesting when the trunk exits the soil with some movement either way. At that point it only takes subtle movement to add interest in the trunk, even if it goes back to verticle. Just that angle of attack on the exit can make the difference. This tree also has no taper and no basel flare. Both make huge differences in how one percieves bonsai. The beginnings of basel flare is there , but how many more years will be needed to really make it convincing and then with that verticle exit it will not really make that much difference?

The taper can be improved with more time and some verticle growth. Evaluation has to be made as to whether one wants to put that much time in for little possible return. Branching on a trident is really not worth mentioning as many times I prune everything off anyway to get branches where I want them. Grafting would improve this also as branches further up are already larger.

In my opinion; This tree barely has enough attributes to keep working on it at this point. I think it has enough to move this tree to a field for growing a few years in the ground and stretching out some of the compact flaws it now has. Maybe this may have a whole new look three years from now.

The tree on the right.


This tree has some great movement. It exits the soil in a pleasing line and has a great smooth even taper all the way to the apex. A huge scar on the front will have to be dealt with but is already nearly closed. On the left lip of that wound a first branch could be grafted there to :

  • Help close the wound
  • Build a larger flare and add girth to the trunk
  • Add a visual element in a strong first branch lower on the trunk

The base of the tree while having a nice flare has inturned toes at the soil line. Grafting could cure this problem while adding a nice nebari. This tree while compact needs a strong base to support the long trunk. Step one will be to graft seedlings along the perimeter of the base to add nebari and to graft on a branch at the branch scar.


Over all I think this tree has a good future and can be made into a great tree with little effort. A five year plan could move this tree closer to a Realville goal. Realville has also shown that I can remove one tree from the benches and move it to the ground.

One down fourty more to go.



Posted January 15, 2013 by California Bonsai Art in Trident Techniques

3 responses to “Living in Realville

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  1. Good assessment, I would have made the same decision.
    I’ve been culling the herd for the past 2 years, it gives me more time to focus on the better ones.

  2. Club information? Thx!

  3. Good assessments. Can’t wait to see the results.

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