I bought this fat trident at least 10 years ago from Benny Kim out in the desert of Phelan Ca., Kims Bonsai Nursery. The tree did well for many years and then it got weaker and weaker. The tree was taken off of a parent tree as an air layer. the tree had a cut off base and roots around the base. Over the years the roots got weaker and weaker. The tree suffered due to not having a good fiberous root pad. In my haste to get it into a smaller bonsai pot, I cut off what roots it had and forced it into a small pot, and the tree suffered on after that. During one year, I took the plant with me to a shohin seminar and kept it in my room while I shopped for that first pot. I found the pot and repotted it in my room. I had the tree the next day and was bringing it to Jim Barrett whom I bought the pot from the day before. On my way to the vendor room I ran into John Romano. He asked if this was the same tree I had been carrying around with me the day before. I said yes. He looked at me very strangly as I told him I repotted in my room. Over the years we have talked about that day.
Over the years the tree has been potted up in half a dozen pots. It has never been back in the first pot. That first pot now has a small shohin hornbeam in it. This picture is from around 2006, about two years after getting the tree and building some small branches. The tree was posted on Art Of Bonsai in the USA versus Europe Bonsai Contest. The judges said the branches were too small and juvinile….duh! It was still a great image even with immature branches. I was most proud of the photograph, the clarity, detail and background.
This was a few years down the road. I had attempted to try and ground layer it to get a better root system. The rudimentary roots can be seen around the base as it is planted too high. This was a picture of the back of the tree.
This was a picture from 2011. Just not a healthy trident. Branches are weak and not well ramified.
Time for some drastic measures. I think some coarse soil and a basket may be what I need to help develop a better root structure. Without a good root structure, development of the tree can never be done. The tree has almost completely healed over the cut away potion of the tree where it was taken off the parent tree.
The root that did grow from the layering effort have developed some rootage but not nearly enough to really make this tree grow hard.
On this side some squirrel damage can be seen as well as the way the base of the tree is devoid of rootage.
Here is a portion of the tree that has not healed over very well. Much of the old trunk can be seen and the roots that were in this area have shrivled and gone away. Part of the problem is that there are few branches low on the trunk, as well as only having two branches on the trunk itself. Most of the top of the tree is built from a very strong apex point. What I will have to do is hope for a couple buds to break on the trunk in different places and then nurse them along to build roots in the places I have none.
What I did here is re cut the area devoid of roots in an attempt to gain some rootage there. I treat this area just as I would for a ground layer.
I have chosen a rather small basket for this tree since I don’t want the roots to travel very far, I just want more of them. I hope that the basket does this for me by building a large pad of roots.
Here is the tree planted up in the basket. Time will tell on this one.
Here is a shot of that first pot that John and I laughed over so many years ago. The deep green hand made slab pot from Jim Barrett.