Archive for the ‘hedging’ Tag

Hedging Maples   8 comments

 

There is not a lot of information on the net about this process. I started treating my maples this way about ten years ago. Walter Pall has spoken about it at his blog, but not much in the way of how to keep up on the process.

There are other ways to treat the canopy of a maple tree and these other treatments have to do with where the tree is in development. During the trees early life, much like candle management on a pine, early treatment is more coarse and in a branch building mode. There is no need for select bud pinching on a tree that will have it’s branches cut many times during the growing season. Bud selection in April likewise on a pine is kinda pointless.

As trees in training begin pushing new buds, the main branches are chosen. As they harden off, the permanent primary branches are now allowed to elongate to gain thickness. Wire is applied and the tree is left to grow. In mid summer these can be cut back when the tree slows down and then allowed to once again elongate in late summer into fall. In Fall all the branches are pruned back hard and then new directions can be worked into the primary stubs. After successive years and primaries set, the same can be done to build secondaries. During the building of secondaries the first beginnings of hedging can now be allowed to begin.

First I will explain what hedging is to me. It may not be the same for all but for the sake of my blog I will call it hedging and this will be the technique I have developed and use. I feel I get good results and tweak the process as the years go by. 

The primaries are set to a specific form. It is this form that the tree is hedged to. This form will now be the template for pruning/ hedging for the next several years. The form may grow in volume and become larger, but the shape must remain the same. To change the shape after several years will mean to cut off all the work the years of hedging have provided.

I will provide a few photos of a tree thru the process and up to where it is today. This is the tree as purchased. It is bare rooted and all the branches that will not be used are removed from the trunk.

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At the end of the first season the tree is kept compact by hedging to a conical shape. This shape keeps the bottom branch longer and thicker while pruning back the branches at the top smaller and shorter.

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In fall the primaries are chosen and wired.

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The front was reestablished with a quarter turn.

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This Spring, after bud break the tree is allowed to run for a few weeks. As the shoots begin to harden off, the tree is hedged for shape. The hedging is done with regular pruning shears but the shape is taken back to a preconceived place much like pruning a hedge, hence the term hedging.

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A couple of days ago the second flush of leaves have hardened off and the hedging process can continue all summer long about every three to four weeks. This does not weaken the tree, on the contrary, many buds will form from the cut back.

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In this shot we can see that the bottom branches have not been trimmed to allow for enlarging the branch and gain some extension.

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This is another tree that has received the same process. Again the tree as purchased and this one was radically cut back.

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The tree received several approach grafts to improve branching.

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This is the primary branch selection process and these are allowed to grow and cut back.

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As the tree progresses the canopy is hedged for shape. Again this is achieved by hedging to a conical shape.

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Back of tree.

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Hedging is done each time after the hardening off of the previous hedging. This keeps a continual flow of new twigs coming while other are budding, some are growing.

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At this point after the yearly hedging process the branching is now at the secondary point and a more feeling of ramification can start on the frame.

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Bud break this year. The tree is starting to really push now and a cut back is only weeks away.

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The most recent hedging is now starting to show how the layers are being defined and the canopy is shaping up to be a slanting trident. Not seen often.

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So what happens after years of trimming and hedging?

Each fall the tree will be pruned after leaf fall. This is the time we can come in and remove heavy growth at branch ends, and thin the structure out if needed. It will be needed. After several years the tree should begin to settle down into a nice shape and the final tertiary ramification can begin. It takes many years to build a fine canopy of fine twigs.

This tree has been developed by this method for 14 years. the outline of this canopy only needs periodic light scissor pruning of shoots to maintain the outline.

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In the Fall the top may look like this. very coarse and heavy growth due to apical dominance.

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Pruning can lighten this feeling and help establish a framework for the tertiary buds to follow.

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Last years hedging can bes een in blue. The current years hedging will take place between the blue and red zone. This is where I want the small twigs to ramify.

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Hopefully at the end of the season I will be rewarded with a small crop of twigs to build on.

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Elm, Gro-Pot to Sho-Pot   5 comments

 

 

Ulmus parvifolia, commonly known as the Chinese elm or Lacebark Elm, is a species native to China, India, Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam. It has been described as “one of the most splendid elms, having the poise of a graceful Nothofagus“. A small to medium deciduous, semi-deciduous (rarely semi-evergreen) tree growing to 10–18 m (30–60 ft) tall and 15-20 m (50-70 ft) wide with a slender trunk and crown. The leathery, lustrous green single-toothed leaves are small, 2–5 cm long by 1–3 cm broad, and often retained as late as December or even January in Europe and North America. The apetalous wind-pollinated perfect flowers are produced in early autumn, small and inconspicuous. The fruit is a samara, elliptic to ovate-elliptic, 10–13 mm long by 6–8 mm broad. The samara is mostly glabrous, the seed at the centre or toward the apex, borne on a stalk 1-3 mm in length; it matures rapidly and disperses by late autumn. The trunk has a handsome, flaking bark of mottled greys with tans and reds, giving rise to its other common name, the Lacebark Elm, although scarring from major branch loss can lead to large canker-like wounds.

Propagation of elms is easy as they develop from roots, cuttings, seed and layers very easily. In this article it is root cuttings that I wish to concentrate on. There is no faster way to develop an elm bonsai. In China elm bonsai are developed from root cutting and developed by the thousands. The S-curve elm seen in bonsai shops around the country as well as the big box store is grown for export only. Somehow the Chinese felt that us westerners liked this movement thing in bonsai. Lucky bamboo caught on and so elms should be styled likewise.

The root cuttings are collected in the winter and sown in plastic pot. As they grow they are switched over to ceramic bonsai pots and they receive the rest of the training in these pots thru shipment to places all over the world. It is hard to comprehend just how many are grown there. These photo’s were smuggled out of China for a friend of mine in the bonsai nursery trade. He has allowed me to share them here.

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At Brussel’s bonsai this would be about the $800.00 stuff

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These on the top shelf would be about $2500.00 at Brussel’s.

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Big commercial nurseries like these in China use lots of pots for export. Most of these come from Lotus Pottery.

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Sorry about the quality of the photo’s but I thought it would be fun to see how this is done on a large-scale in a foreign country.

Now we switch gears and come back to America to see how it is done on a much smaller scale and with a little more intimacy. Up close and personal. All photo’s from now on are by Justin Case. Elms are one of the type of trees that grow well from root cuttings. The new buds emerge right from the cut end of the root. It is this ability that allows one to propagate from roots since interesting shapes and large sizes can be cut from the roots and struck. Traditional cuttings taken from hardwood branches of other trees always yields a rather straight uninteresting start which will always require some sort of chop later to create taper. By starting short elm roots and leaving only the very tip showing from the top of the soil, the start to convincing taper can be created from day one.

During the production of this large cork elm, I reserved this first branch stub since it was pretty large and I wanted to have a larger branch to start with.

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The new shoots came right out of the end of the cut branch and I was able to develop from there.

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Roots are taken from larger elm trees in spring during repotting. The roots are cut away and thrown into a bucket of water to be processed later.

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The roots are taken from the water and trimmed up and cut shorter or planted with long trunks for literati or cascade forms in mind.

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Even Neagari (exposed root) forms can be saved from the tangled roots. These make interesting Penjing subjects or creative shohin.

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Large roots can give a good start to larger trunked specimans and can save years of time. The root may be only a year old but they grow so fast and plump that large tree seem older for the ease of one year old roots.

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Once the roots are planted it becomes a waiting game. Then soon, the small buds begin to appear at the cut ends of the root. they start as small pin pricks of green in the cambium area of the cut end.

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Sometimes the entire cambium ring will turn green, during this time some or most of the buds will be rubbed off to allow one or two to grow strong. These shoots can grow and then leaders chosen later.elmrootcutting

At the end of about three years the tops of the tree should be full of small branches. These should be pruned regularly to keep the plant compact. At the end of three years the plants are separated from each other in the large pot and planted out into clay pots on their own.

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For the next three-years, regular pruning must take place many times during the year. It is very easy for the plants to get out of control and lose the “shohin” feel if they get too leggy.

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The canopies can be hedge pruned to keep up with twiggyness. This is not so much because we are going to keep this ramification, it is because we need the choices for direction since all of the training will be by clip and grow. No wire.

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Continue to prune for shape all year-long.

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By the end of the fourth year they will be ready for a final prune for fall.

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Even after I prune in fall I always get a flush of buds, that’s just the aggressiveness of the species.

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At the start of spring of the fifth year the plants should look like this. All the twigs are cut off and choices for direction had been made in Fall. Now we will begin the canopy for the final product. This is when we will keep new secondaries and begin working on tertiaries.

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Now the leaves come out and we can watch to see what they do and be ready to prune and keep direction. I had only eight to keep me busy but 8 is all I could handle. I wonder how many Chinamen it takes to keep those fields in check?

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After the leaves harden off I cut again for shape. This time I have drilled holes around the soft clay pots for guy wires to ease branches into place for better shape. This works well with elms since they grow wood fast and will keep their shape in a matter of months.

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This is the beginning of the sixth year, The training from hear on out is very light pruning just to fill in the canopies. I selected 8 pots from my shohin pot collection. They are a combination of Chinese and Japanese, some signed pots and a glazed Begei. (bottom left)

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I prepare the pots with screen and wing dings. I bend them like this because I like the purchase the loops have against the pot on the root side.

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Its been six years since the roots were taken and now they will undergo final shaping in the small pots that will slow them down considerably. I need the rest, these 8 have kept me hopping for the last six years.

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Six years from gro-pots to sho-pots. Very fun and very fullfilling. It is a lot of fun to see a project all the way thru from beginning to end.

 

 

 

 

Cork Elm Work   Leave a comment

13 Months ago I acquired this cork elm from a growing field. My friend Steve DaSilva had grown this out from cutting in about five years. The tree has a 3.25 inch trunk and is 20 inches tall.

This is the progression over 13 months. There is a double set of bar branches up top that I will deal with during the summer when the tree is more dormant. Right now I just want to get as much strength as possible before I cut anymore on the tree other than trimming. Cork elms are notorious about just up and a branch die for no reason. I just know when I make the decision to take off two, one of those left will croak. I have dealt with my friend MURPHY before.

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After some pruning and removal of long shoots. Basicly this is just a hedge pruning.

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This is a virtual of which branches I would take off. The upper one on the left in the apex portion would be bent down to help fill the void. Maybe not as much as I have shown here but more gradual. The trunk can also be carved after the left bar branch is removed. Right now it is an unsightly bulge because removal of wood here would kill that branch. With its removal, it wouldn’t matter. This tree would benefit from some flare at the soil line and that can only be accomplished from growing on a flat hard surface. That will be the plan after I get a good root pad from this colander. It has some good surface rootage that I was able to expose when repotting this season into the colander.

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After a year or two and a little filling out, branch refinement can take place. I’ll be back end of 2015 to compare this virt and where I am with the tree.

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Posted March 24, 2014 by California Bonsai Art in Styling Trees

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