Archive for the ‘ground layer’ Tag

Realville gets a makeover   10 comments

This trident goes by the name Realville. Some day I wish to add small metal tags to the trees and number them so I know which ones are witch. Until that day I just name them. Not all of them have names but sooner or later something comes to me and it sticks. The name comes from the title of a blog post here I did a couple years ago. A search on the home page with “realville” should pull it up.

What I wish to do for this tree is shorten it up to maybe work as shohin. I think it will work but it will take a couple years to achieve. As it stands, the tree has a pretty good trunk and good taper. It has a terrible nebari and eventhough I tried to graft whips to the bottom, they failed and the base looks crappy still. I took the tree to a shohin study group I belong to hear and developed the plan.

So here is the measuring stick I made to measure at a glance the catagory a tree fits into. As we can see the tree is just about 1.5 inches too tall for shohin which is at the top of the orange portion.

 

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I figure that if I layer the tree at the thickest part I can shorten the tree and put a better base on the tree in one throw.

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Leaves fell off and the line is marked at the study group.

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So today I carve a groove all the way around the base of the trunk at the line.

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A large piece of wire is tied around the trunk. The wire is pounded into the trunk tissue and alloed to follow all the curves and indentions.

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Once the wire is affixed a collar is made of plastic canvas for holding the soil.

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A little bit about the soil. This is a bag of akadama I picked up several years ago…maybe about seven. I had no idea what it was that I had. When I opened it I was kinda like …”what the hell is this “.

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The akadama is in round balls. Perfectly round balls. No broken edges, no rough sides, just smooth round balls. It is soft, very soft, and absorbs water like no bodies business. I mean it holds a lot of water. What’s really good about it is that being round, one can see in the picture all the shadows. It is about 60/40, akadama/air. It never compacts and allows perfect air exchange. This stuff grows roots so fast even I am shocked. No hormone here. I have used this on my large trident after the squirrels ate the nebari off and I had roots with this stuff in a collar like this in a few weeks. I have used this medium for all my layers thru the years and am on the look out for a bag to replace this one with. I have about 25% left. I’ll be back in 60 days and brush away some particles and we’ll see what we have.

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Grow Stones and Maples   1 comment

Last year I did two trees as an experiment with the grow stones. Both trees were planted in 100 percent grow stones. I did a conifer that was ailing which would give me a visual indicator during the year if the increased air and drainage was worth the effort. I also did a group of five maples thru a disk with five holes to build a massive taper larger trident. I can say that while the conifer was actually improved and grew very well the trident while not suffering too badly did not thrive in my heat.

I planted the trees as they were in the growing pots about 14 inches tall. The trees wear about 3/4 inch across and were planted thru 1 1/4 inch holes drilled in a ceramic disk. The tree grew and managed to grow to about five feet tall which in itself is good, not good for what they should have done in a year around here. I should have had about nine feet of growth and a good increase in caliper.

All of the trees I planted into disks were left the height they were while they had been growing as single trees. The smaller ones I planted from the seeds the year before were about 10 inches tall. While the small ones did increase in size and layer at the disk intersection, I feel this was because the better and more moisture laden soil they grew in. They all grew in colanders so that part was equal as well.

This year the large group of five in individual holes will be planted into a much more humus rich soil mix. Based on trees grown in previous years, the trees should begin to fill the holes and layer off. I need each one to increase in girth by at least 50 percent to even touch each other and begin grafting. Should take about two more years to get to that point.

The most important part of this project is what was done for this year. Like the trees I did a decade ago, massive girth in the bottom third of the tree will only take place when the shoot emerges from the trunk low on the trunk. Let me explain. When a tree is expected to increase in size, sacrifice branches are used to achieve this. If a tree is 20 inches tall and the sacrifice is used from a bud that emerges from the trunk in the first inch above the soil, that shoot will increase the base of the trunk by a lot over a season. In fact this is a good way to improve reverse taper.

If a person is trying to achieve a large trunk and uses a shoot in the upper third of the trunk, all of the branches adjacent to the shoot will increase in size but the base of the trunk will hardly see any increase in size. Further, all increase in size happens below a sacrifice or adjacent to it. For this project on the large tree as well as the smaller projects I have going, I have cut back all the trunks on the groups of tree thru the plates down to about 2 -3 inches. The larger project was cut down to about 4 inches. This cut back will force all the energy into only the four inches of trunk and swell a lot. If I left the trunks 5 feet long the shoots would only increase the trunks right out on the ends of the trunks, 14 inches away from the holes I need to fill. With the trunks now only four inches tall, the new shoots will direct all the energy into the trunks and they should swell to fill the holes by June. The tree was checked and the buds are swelling and now is the right time to cut the canes. this will now force all the energy into the bottom.

 

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This is how much larger the trees have to grow to fill the holes and begin layering.

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The roots have been covered with a layer of the grow stones as well as what above the tile. just from the fact of being covered with soil the trunks will begin to emit roots.

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Here are the five trunks cut back and ready for next years growth.

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All the trunks were cut back to shoots or buds on the trunk. this is the safest method to insure the trunk will take off when the sap is on the rise.

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Here are some of the other baskets of maples with the trunks all cut back ready for spring. These are all the seedligs I did under the screen. They have good movement as a benifit from the screen.

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This is one of the larger seedlings done from the same batch. It is amazing how fast they grow if they are not stuted by having screen thrown over them. the squirrels did a number on this root connected pair as can be seen in the close up.

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Bonsai Tips with Justin Case   Leave a comment

Let me introduce myself, my name is Justin….Justin Case. I have been retained by the bunker to find the tips, bonsai tips that may help in the pursuit of bonsai.

This first tip is from Fresno Ca. A crafty fellow out there doing bonsai…”His Way” has this to say about new material.

Safety Cuts, use um or lose um.

What is a safety cut. Well to his way of thinking, safety cuts should and can be used throughout the year on any material for a number of reasons. When purchasing new stock, safety cuts should be made straight away on the material for two reasons.

1. it will give one an idea on how well it responds to pruning

2. it will give one idea how well it buds on old wood.

Why is this important? Knowing how stock responds to pruning is how we go about styling a tree. Styling a tree with a species that responds well by stimulating new growth after pruning allows one to be more aggressive with styling ideas. Knowing how a species responds to pruning and the stimulation of buds on old wood means more aggressive styling can be done by removing unwanted growth at the tips with the assurance that it will back bud appropriately. I know from experience and many safety cuts on Pyracantha that I can prune all the way to the soil and it will bud aggressively. The same can be said with Cotoneaster and pomegranate. On the other hand, trident maples will only bud back on old wood if the cut is made back to a live bud. Beheading a trident will probably kill the tree, while beheading an elm can start the process over again and a whole new tree can be built.

Even conifers can benefit from safety cuts since many times an awkward branch that is too large can be pruned back to the trunk area leaving a stub an inch long, and even with no green on it, will sprout new growth adjacent to the stub from the collar. Cut the branch off flush and no bud growth. The stub keeps the area viable long enough for the buds to stimulate and new growth to start. This technique can also be used over a period of a few years to push growth back closer to the trunk by making safety cuts each year. After the first cut is made one will have an idea how deep the next years cut can be made and how the tree will respond by adding new foliage in deeper where we want rather than out on the tips where we don’t.

Safety cuts on stock being grown out for bonsai material can also benefit from this method. In my technique for growing tridents with larger trunks, I grow during the season and defoliate in fall. after leaf removal the tree is allowed to keep all its long growth, in spring the tree is spur pruned.

What is a spur prune? A spur prune is a term used in the growth of grapes. To spur prune is to leave a small portion of last years growth for the cane to grow from. many grapes grow from the trunk and do not require a spur. In fact the canes are better grown from the trunk each year since the cane becomes exhausted. Some grapes do not push forth growth from the trunk and require a spur for next years growth. Grape bonsai should be made with a variety that requires spur pruning so as to not have the bonsai styles branches cut from the stump each year. Muskat grapes work well for this.

Back to the tridents, so in spring the canes of the tree are cut back to the trunk area leaving a spur, maybe an inch long. This spur will sprout and add tremendous girth and scar tissue to the base of the tree.

What happens if we cut back a cane in spring and it does not shoot?

This means that the spur was too short and the tree had no bud wood on the spur to shoot. The way we correct this is to make a safety cut back in the fall after we removed the leaves. Cut the cane down to about 6 inches of the base of the tree. This will allow the tree to generate the bud areas for next years growth. In spring when the buds begin to swell this small six-inch long cane will have a multitude of buds on it. It will have a bud at every bud ring on whats left of the trunk. Then after the leaves come out and develop into two pairs, the six-inch long stubs can be reduced to the short spurs by cutting down to the first bud on the shoot you left and it will continue on and grow from there creating girth and swell to the point that in mid summer there will no longer be a spur there. It will become just a shoot on the new larger trunk mass and melt into the new base you are building.

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If one studies these two photos one can see that the second picture shows the long spur that was left the year before has now become part of the flare of the base of this trunk. The shoot that grew from it can be seen in the pic also. This will be pruned out again this year and the whole process started over again in spring.

Make those safety cuts early so the tree will respond as you like……Justin Case

 

Oshio Beni Maple   4 comments

Today I had the good fortune to recieve a phone call from my friend Chuck Nelson. Chuck has been into bonsai for almost 60 years. He and I placed first and second in the Third Kazari held in Hanford California. We met at the nursery and Chuck was already there by the time I got there. The nursery is huge and older being started in 1978. The owner of the nursery Yoshio Fujimoto, specializes in Maples of all kinds, with his specialty being red colored maples. All his maples are cultivated by seed from parent stock he started in 1961. Three parent trees are in his backyard. The tree I selected is a Oshio Beni, and red maple with seven lobes and red color in spring. In the hot sun of Fresno they do green by fall.

The trees are mostly in 25 gallon tall containers and most of them have escaped into the ground. The tree I selected was planted in 1983. It is now 31 years old.

Yoshio Fujimoto and Chuck Nelson

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Chuck and I begin walking around the nursery and take it in. There is so much to see here, much more than just a couple hours can provide. The tree I would finally decide on came from this hoop house below.

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Thousands of maples, all from seed.

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So this would be the one I decided I would buy. A price is agreed upon and I pay the man. I have known Yosh for 15 years so the price was good. He has always found me fascinateing since I like the small trees and do shohin. He got a good chuckle on my decision and asked me “how I get this in shohin pot!”

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Once the tree is home I can start to really study it and decide on what I wish to take off and what I will keep….for now. All my decisions today are safety cuts. These are cuts I do to induce backbudding before cutting to the place I really want to take it back to. I treat these cuts like any other and dress them properly since many times I am fine with this first decision later and just keep what grows next year.

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Another look from the other side.

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All safety cuts are made blunt. They are dressed and sealed. These are cuts that I know I will shorten later after back budding. If this were a trident I would just cut it back with little regard for health knowing in the spring it would bud everywhere. These are not tridents and are palmatums and have to be treated with a little more care than a trident. These trees are more likely to dry out and drop branches unexpectantly.

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On transition from larger to smaller wood I take the time to use a grafting knife and smooth the transition for taper. Most likely I will be keeping places like this so I prepare it now.

 

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The long stub on the left trunk was left long. At the end of the day I decided to take it back to the small branch sticking up. I prepared it for taper and sealed. It will be seen later in the final shot.

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Here is a good shot of a tapered cut with my grafting knife to make the cuts ultra smooth. The cambium can be seen as a smooth green ring around its entirety and the wound should heal smooth.

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All the cuts are know sealed with sealant. This is the green goo I like from the toothpaste tube. It is good and waterproof when it dries and stays pliable and allows the wound to heal right under the stuff.

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I even managed to keep a few seeds intact.

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This is what the leaves look like in spring, I copped these off a tree there that had some new shoots from a few weeks ago.

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This is my result after removing what I did not want. I will be going for a graceful feminine maple with a nice rounded canopy on both trunks.

 

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Currently the tree is 32 inches tall. I figure it should work out to about 40 tall when finished with the canopy.

While the base is large and flared I suspect the roots bolt straight down. I am sure this will have a huge claw to deal with…but its not like I can’t deal with it, I have done many.

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This is the trunk size just above the flare at the bottom.

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Five Trees on a Plate Update   2 comments

Last year in Feb the five trees was placed thru a large terra cotta water saucer. The rim was cut off and five holes were drilled into it. The hole saw I used made an 1 1/4 inch hole. The trees I placed into the holes were trees grown out from cuttings I struck in 2010. The trees were about 5/8 to 3/4 inch across at the base.

This planting was grown out this year in grow stones only. No other planting medium was used. The grow stones are a synthetic pumice made from recycled glass. The medium worked good, and was a successful planting medium. I also planted a California juniper into the same mix so that I could compare which trees do better in the mix. Article coming soon on the results so far.

Here is the plate all prepared with the holes. The outsides of the holes form a circle about 5 inches in diameter. I plan to have a circle of roots with a fused base of about 8 to 9 inches or cover this saucer.

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In this shot we can see that there is quite a bit of room for the trees in the holes.

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This is what the whole thing looked like in the grow stones. The entire top of the planting was covered with an inch layer of long fiber moss.

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This is what it looked like today. The trees have grown to about 6 feet tall.

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This tree is the only one that grew large enough to start the girdle process. Once the tree is larger than the hole, the trunk begins to swell really fast.

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The trunk is a full 1.75 inch across.

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The other trees have some catching up to do, but that will be accomplished next year easy.

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The pumice was piled above the plate as well as the inch of moss. The moss was successful in keeping the trunk wet during the day. The trunk is still wet after pushing back the top layer of pumice. What this did was cause some of the roots to sprout much too high on the trunk. I have taken the liberty to remove those now. I wish the roots to be right at the plate and start knitting there.

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Whats cool about baskets is that if you set them on the ground, you get all the benifit of growun growing, but can still be lifted awy to take to a workshop if necessary. These roots will just be pruned away in spring.

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It is my contention that I did not see the rampet growth from the pumice product that I wanted. The tree needed much more long lasting hydration than the fast drying pumice could produce. In spring, the entire planting will be changed out for a traditional ALP mix. The addition of akadama will get me the hydration reserve I need to keep the plant growing all day. This tree was in full sun all year 105 temps for weeks at a time. Next year will be no different except that the planting will stay cooler and wetter longer. I should see a huge improvement in the way the planting performs.

 

 

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