Trident Maple 030


I came about this maple thru strange happenings. In 2002 I went to the California Bonsai Societies yearly exhibit. While there, I purchased a very large Hornbeam from the booth of Kim’s Bonsai, owner Benny Kim. Over the next year the tree died and on taking it out of the pot it was found it had no roots. The tree was just a cutting stuffed into a pot. I contacted the nursery in Phelan Ca. and was told that they would make good on the purchase since that load of tree was not supposed to have been sold.

I took the tree to the Mojave Desert where the nursery was. It was a very large nursery and they had lots of trees. More than I had ever seen at this time. Benny gave me full credit for my purchase and told me that I could choose what ever I wanted from his nursery. I found this block of tridents out in the back of the nursery. They were growing on elevated pallets so they wouldn’t grow into the ground. Lots of his material was grown into the ground and required a lot of work to free it.

This was the one I chose. I felt that the trunk had good taper and a good symmetrical movement to it.


I put it into it’s first pot. Unglazed but it fit well and the branch structure was starting to look pretty good. I was happy with what was going on.


While my Son was in High School he made some pots back in the nineties. I held on to a few, and now was a good time to try one out. A Keppler original.


The tree each year has begun to fill out. I am happy with it’s progress. At this time I am busy keeping the branches pruned back for internode length, something I would soon find out that there is an easier way.


Time for a repot, and a new pot. I got this pot from Jim Barrett. It had some burn places from the kiln where the glaze burned off. He gave me a good deal, I told him it added texture. It wasn’t a final pot so it could reside in this for a while. I had lots of smaller feeder roots working off the larger roots now and felt that the nebari was building mass. This new repot I would try something different.

In the picture above there is a root on the right side that travels straight down and looks funky. there are also some very large roots issuing out of the trunk rather high up, not allowing the tree to rest securely in the pot. I take a chance and cut them all off. no pain no gain. these are large roots and I have no idea if the tree will even wake up after I do this.

After taking the tree out of the pot, I cut away a solid 4 inches of roots from around the pad. I shaved the bottom again and placed the tree about where I wanted it. It was at this time that I first decided to start placing my trees, when possible, right on the bottom of the pot with no soil underneath. I tied the tree very firmly and back filled with Akadama. at this time I was using about 75 percent akadama for my deciduous trees. At this time I no longer use akadama since I felt it added no benefit and did not warrant the expense.

In the fall of 2008, I took a look at the roots. One can see the old soil line on the trunk. It is just a little whiter due to the calcium in our water.


The tree grew well thru the year. It is at this time that I gegin hedging my maples. I cut my canopies only for shape, with a scissor. I do not worry so much about how I cut the sticks, just so that they do not stick out of the canopy.

By Fall it is looking like the tree is ready for a repot. The roots are pushing the tree out of the ot and will begin to grow out like a hedgehog.

Once again I tie the tree into the pot very firmly, giving it no play as it grows forcing the rootage to grow out and push up in the middles where there is no wire. This is how I get the exposed rootage I am looking for. It still takes time but its much better than growing on a plate of wood in the ground or grow box for 5 seasons. I can still enjoy the tree, display the tree and still have my roots doing their work for me.


The tree growing some more. The scars from the root removal are closing.


The tree is coming along quite well. The hedging is starting to tajke effect with increased ramification, due to cutting the branches so often.


The canopy is getting a nice shape now due to hedging. The ramification in the pads is getting quite dense now.

In the Fall, the tree is now showing spectacular color. I am very pleased with the tree and it has responded well to the work. The wet place on the base of the trunk is just about the old soil line. Maybe a 1/4 inch higher.


Showing the definition of the foliage pads.


On a trip to Southern California I found this pot at Kimura Bonsai. Robert Pressler was not there when I purchased it. I might not own had he been there.


Fall again makes for beautiful color. The canopy shape is really tight and the leves are about the size of a dime.


I did not do a repot this year. Next year I will repot the tree and maybe change the angle just a little. What I have noticed is the wonder rottage starting to find its way to the top of the pot. It has no place to go but up!

These are a few before and after shots of how I treat the branches in the fall. after hedging for 6 months, the branches can get full of bad places if left. I go thru and clean up these kind of places keeping the growth more horizontal and not so vertical since maples tend to be so apical.

Posted May 1, 2019 by California Bonsai Art

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