After publishing more winter pruning, I noticed that I had no pictures of how branching should develop year by year and when it is necessary to switch to building tertiary branching to achive the twigs that make maple bonsai look so beautiful. I mentioned that three years will be necessary to get the primaries and the secondaries started and to a point that tertiary branching could start. It actually takes four years since the first year really shows nothing if the trunk is bare, or rudimentary branch stubs if they are being retained and in good positions. Branches that can be kept that are low on the trunk are very valuable since they will have a head start and look more size proportionate.
This is an example of a stump with no branches on it. This stump will be grown for the first year in anticipation of the first buds and the beginnings of what might be branches kept.
This is an example of the first year bud pop and then the choosing of a few to keep and the beginning wire to help position the branches for future growth.
Here we have a freshly dug trident from the field. Lots of branches all over the place. Selections will have to be made and the large primary branch sticking straight at the viewer will have to be removed.
The large branch is cut off and the smaller branch around it was retained to grow out in a better position. That is achieved with wire. It is kept on untill scarred since this branch will be cut back many times for taper. All I wish to achieve is to get the direction established.
Once all the branches I wish to keep are wired and in a good place, the tree is ready to just grow. It will be pruned at appropriate times to slow hard growth and keep the branch growing with buds along the way to cut back to.
At the end of the second year with no branches (bare trunk) and first year with a few left on trunk we have a one year head start. The beginning of the second year should look much like this from the top. This is a pretty good start on the primary branch locations.
At the end of the second year the tree should have doubled its branches. It should be pruned back in fall and all the cuts sealed. Why Fall? Because Fall pruning produces spring growth which is not so explosive and allows for pruning in spring to control internodes and fall pruning will produce smaller spring leaves. Spring pruning will give more explosive growth and long internodes and large leaves. This is great if the tree is in the ground and is being grown for fattening up.
At the end of the third year we should have a good set of primaries (branches) and a good subset of secondaries. This is the time we get to start producing all the tertiary (twigs) branching and developing the beautiful maple canopy.