I have had this trident maple since 2001. It has gone thru a sucession of work periods and mishaps over the years. This past year has been particularly hard on all my trees. My wife has undergone treatment for breast cancer and taking care of her this past year has taken alot of time and care to make her comfortable. Also, I had a spring wrestleing match with a tribe of snails. I had no idea how fast they can strip a trident maple over night. I learned that a trident no matter how strong it is will only allow one mulligan in having all its leaves stripped. They ate the second bud out a week later and some trees gave up and died right on the spot. I have never had this happen in thirty years of bonsai. This year was different in that I had lots of tridents in pond baskets on the ground in front of my benches. The pickens was just too easy.
In the past they really never bothered the trees on the benches and it was like that again while the trees on the ground were decimated. A little background on this tree. I willl not bore you with the beginning, but will take up after cutting off some large roots a few years back and the subsequent work done thus far.
The tree starts out here in 2008. The roots are awefull. The tree swings out of the soil to the right giving the impression of some flare over there. A large root on the right gives the impression of trunk flare on that side. The problem is when seen at certain angles, there is daylight between the roots and the trunk. A large verticle root comes straight down on the right starting fairly high on the trunk.
A few weeks after the above photo was taken I decided to remove the large offending roots. I had a great dense root pad and so was not in the least bit worried that removing such large roots would set the tree back. I sawed them all off leaving only the fiberous roots to support the tree. They do all the work anyway and the large roots only offer support. I must admitt that after removing the large roots the tree was much harder to tie into the pot. The tree would actually wobble like a rag doll at the hinge line at roots/tree intersection.
The largest root was a full inch and a quarter across.
After the tree was repotted this is what it looked like a year later.The tree is much higher in the pot now increasing its height by 2.5 inches. The large root scar on the right is now a full three inches above the soil line whereas before it was at the soil line.
In 2009 I had some roots now growing around the perimeter of the tree. Things were looking good and I was now able to concentrate on having a better showing base on this tree.
In 2010 I was able to show the tree in the second annual Kazari in which I won second place.
In 2011 I entered the same tree once more except this time i was able to show it in Winter since the Kazari had been moved to a Winter format instead of Spring. Again I placed second for the second time in a row. As can be seen the base of the tree has started to flare and the rootage has grown much larger with roots nearing 3/8 inch.
The Giant Squirrel Scourage of 2013
In 2013 squirrels had chewed off every root exposed on the tree. They had dug up large parts of the root matt to bury things and had done a lot of damage.
All I had left was stubs where large roots used to be. I was very angry and soon bought a CO2 BB pistol and began going all Wyatt Earp on the bastards.
To help save the root stubs that I had, I built a collar and and back filled it with pure akadama and covered that with sphagnum moss.
A couple months later I inspected my work. Sure enough I had new root emerging from the root stubs and was very lucky that they had not dried out too long.
At the end of the 2013 season I had some pretty good roots. It was now time to try something different. Over the last couple year I have been planting out many tridents on terra cotta water dishes turned upside down with hole drilled in them. I though about that and decided to try that with this tree except I would not use a disk to plant on, but the bare bottom of the pot.
In Feb. 2014 I would srart the repot. The tree was removed from the planter and pruned back in preperation for planting. The bottom of the root pad was planed like I do every year and the roots removed from the base. The pad was cut back by at least half.
The tree was planted directly on the bottom of the pot without soil. Just sitting right on the ceramic bottom. The real secret is to tie the tree in very well. Not just a two wires over the ends of the root pad to keep it from falling out of the pot in the wind, I mean TIE the tree in. The wires are left very long from the holes in the pot and the first wire tied together are those adjacent to each other. With one of the tails, move to the next hole and twist together with pliers very well. Continue moving to each successive hole ending with the first long wire at the starting point. Now you should have a continuous loop of wire around the whole root ball.
This is when the Cancer treatment started and not having the amount of time to devote to the tree I would like. I was able to keep the tree very well hydrated and did not prune it for months at a time. During the first part of the spring and summer I was using the siphon feeder with miricle grow and gro power with humic acid daily. I had shoots on this tree at times over two feet long. The fertilizer and hot summer as well as little pruning allowed the tree to turn into a sort of Bruce Banner type of plant. In the shot below much of the canopy is sunburnt and the leaves are really shrivled up. None of the twigs have suffered as it is under shade cloth but gets pretty good sun till about noon. The base of the tree is covered with soil and one can see poo balls on the surface also. I had removed the siphon feeder in June but have reconnecetd it just prior to the photo. About two weeks ago. I am feeding with fertilzer injected daily for winter strength build up.
I began noticing the root pad pushing up out of the pot along the edges. This is the only place it can do that since the tree is really tied in.
I was able to sweep back the soil and see the nebari that has manifested itself this season. The knobby places around the base are from teeth marks left by the squirrels
I pruned out all of the dead leaves, removing about half of the canopy. I still have at least two months left of growing season and this will bud out and push more leaves before winter. The photo shows the new larger flare I have gained by tieing in the tree so tight and planting it directly on the bottom of the pot. The tree can only push up against the wires and do nothing but make larger roots and flaring the buttress.
This is the really cool part. This tree is growing in no soil. The only soil in this pot is the 1/2 inch layer you see on the top of the tree. All the soil that was around the cut back root pad has been pushed out of the pot and is scattered around the bench and on the ground. I have shared this as testament to my rambleings over the years about plants.
1. Plants do not need soil to grow.
2. Plants do not drown in water as long as the tips can find air.
3. Soil mix just needs to retain some moisture and allow air for the plant to thrive. What you use for that is sorta moot.
I will be back this spring to detail taking this plant from the pot and showing the no soil pics. I figure the squirrels set me back about two years from where I would have been. By now I would have had some fusing of roots and should have started to see some plating. That reminds me, I need more CO2 canisters and another 5 pounds of BB’s!