Archive for the ‘movement’ Tag

Fence Bench   Leave a comment

This has been my first full year of retirement. It has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and medical issues. Rosie and I have worked thru them and we are excited for this new summer.

Early in the Winter I started expanding my grow out area. It was expanding and I needed more room to house all the pots and larger tree growing out. It is especially hard since often times canopies are allowed to grow unpruned until sizes are reached on certain branches before pruning back. Having these sitting all over the yard and moving them to mow and water and prune other things is a hassle. What I did was reinforce the fence by installing knee braces at each post with a 4 x 4 and a steel stake driven in the ground. This made the fence super rigid and also adds more strength to the fence since it’s shared with a neighbor. I installed a 16 foot shelf on the fence at the post height, about ten inches from the top of the fence. These are mostly for growing out shohin size trees and with the shelf at 10 inches from the top, I don’t have to worry about something or someone coming along and knocking it off the shelf from the other side.

Two months ago I built the second shelf under the first. This shelf is about 14 inches below the first shelf. Here you can see the knee braces holding the fence firm. Both shelves are 16 feet long. This area gets full sun almost all day. The sun starts about 9:30 AM and gets shade about 5 PM. Notice all the larger stuff on the ground sitting around in colanders and cut down nursery containers.

Today I finished the lower shelf on concrete blocks two high. The shelf is two 16 foot 2 x 6’s with a small block every 5 feet for support and to keep them from twisting. The bench holds all the larger trees that need the support. Underneath is all my seed trays.

Up on the shelves contain cuttings and smaller rooted plants of things taken last year.

These clay pots have elm root cuttings in them, neagari style and the tips of the cuttings all have small green shoots popping out.

Like these….

These small green things are semi cascade style small leaf privets. Just poke them in the ground and roots in 60 days.

I got these three pines from Ed Clark March 14 this year. Two of them have been styled, the third one tomorrow.

The big pine I got from Steve DaSilva. It’s growing really well. I lost two very small branches that turned brown after about a month. The rest of the tree is responding well.

Candles galore.

These two colanders have , I think,  Crape Myrtle seeds in them. They popped out last week and are really growing quite fast. They will be getting the screen on top this week end. The screen keeps them from growing up, and puts all sorts of movement in the seedlings.

These were tridents I did several years ago with the method. Just window screen laid over the seed bed.

That’s the way you put movement into trunks at an early age. I have several hundred tridents that I am doing this way again.

Choosing Suitable Bonsai Material   2 comments

Everything we do to build a suitable Bonsai tree is dependent on the material we start with. Someone else’s crappy material may be someone else’s dream material. It all depends on ones eye and talent. So where does a person find suitable Bonsai material?

Bonsai material is where you find it. You can go to the best place on Earth and still never find what it is you are looking for. Of course price is the determining factor and more often than not I find it….I just can’t afford it. Many places exist for bonsai material, bonsai nurseries, garden centers, your own front yard and the mountains, foot hills and deserts.

Let’s look a little closer at some of the places we can find suitable bonsai material.

The Garden Center

The garden center will have many types of trees to choose from. bear in mind that this type of material is not grown with bonsai in mind and will probably be grafted to more suitable species to grow from. Trees like maples will be grafted to ordinary Palmatum root stock but will have many leaf choices to choose from. The stock will be stronger, but an unsightly bulge at the graft union may make a good candidate unuseable. Keep in mind this material will be chopped down and grown out for pleasing bonsai attributes. Things like trunk movement and taper will for the most part be non existent, and will have to be added by wiring while younger. Things like junipers are a real good way to start in bonsai and can be found in up to 10 gallon containers and depending on nursery found with very large trunks. Crawling thru a good couple rows of large junipers is a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Bonsai Nurseries

The bonsai nursery will have material in many different sizes and grades of training. If it was  specifically grown with bonsai in mind and the chops and taper will already be on it’s way. Branches may have received some rudimentary wire and roots will be more compact and pruned for fitting into pots. A good bonsai nursery will have both canned material and trees in the ground for grow out. The nursery may keep this material from the public for a period of time to gain in size and monetary return. At certain times of the year they will open up portions of the grow field for tagging or digging out material then or at a later date. This is where really great material can be had. It isn’t the cheapest route, but one can be assured that the material is better for bonsai, as long as your eyes and wallet holds out.

Muranaka Nursery, George Muranaka

Round Valley Nursery, Ed Clark

Bonsai Conventions and Shows


Collecting in the field is a great way to attain material. The same goes for collected as does for nursery material, collect only material you can see a tree in. Maybe the tree has a lot of deadwood, or shari, collect it for what can be made, not just the interest. Collecting material at home or at someone else’s home can be very rewarding.

This is ingenious!

Collecting in the mountains or desert can be the best place to find material. Without going into a lot of detail, collecting on Govt. property requires a permit in California, and though given out, are hard to get. All the green things in this pictures are California Junipers!

Peter Macasieb and Me. I’m the good lookin one!

The Last Resort

Sometimes the material just can’t be had any other way. This is when one will call on these guys! These places aren’t all bad. The material is mostly healthy and if one is young enough and has the time, much of this material if planted out in the ground for a number of years could become quite attractive bonsai. Mostly the canopies are much too large for the trunk size, but that’s what the ground is for, bulk it up.

What should we be looking for? This has a lot to do with time and age. If your young and have the next 40 years ahead of you, then material can be planted now for use later, pruning along the way. This is also an inexpensive way to get better material. If you have the money and no time, then buying more expensive material at a specialty bonsai nursery or at the convention is the way to go. A lot of people get bonsai as gifts, or are surprised to see a small bonsai at a hardware store or big box store, many of these around Christmas time. If you are young there is nothing wrong with this material given time. While it may not be something very attractive right away, it could be grown out and made quite beautiful. These are the kind of trees seen at big box stores.

Here is an example of one of those “S” shaped elms that George Muranaka came into owning. Something happened to it, broken, termites, backed over it with a car, dropped out of the back of the pickup. He nursed it, I bought it and tried to make something out of it.

The original trunk line of the “S” shaped trunk. The red line is the part that is missing now. The tree started to heal itself and just grew new tissue right over the old.

So what do we look for?

The material has to speak to you. One needs to see “the tree” before you ever put the money down. If you don’t see a tree then don’t buy it. It is not worth having valuable space at home filled up with a ton of projects that will never see the bonsai light of day. Be honest with yourself. Look at photo’s from prestigious shows, they are all over the net. See what makes a good tree. Look for material that fits that ideal. Many people buy material because they find it “interesting”. Loopy exposed roots on root bound plants can seem interesting, but you will tire of that look soon enough after seeing “real bonsai” close up.

Let me clue the uninitiated into the word “interesting”. When in a bonsai circle of friends and comparing material or finished trees, you never want to hear the word “interesting”. The word interesting is reserved as a nice word used to describe material “not really” worthy of good bonsai material. On the internet during discussion when a person you know personally posts up something not worthy, he is met with silence on the net. If it’s someone you don’t know and will never meet them, they get told it’s crappy. The truth! If the person showing the crap is a personal friend and you encounter him face to face and he asks your opinion, and you have no way to duck out, you tell him it is “interesting”. Enough said.

Good material will be healthy. It will have decent roots all around the trunk. If it is really good it may even have some good flare at the soil line. It will have low branches, this is important. It should have a good movement in the trunk line and the line should taper to the top. Movement in the branches should be in step and look similar to the trunk line. It should be chosen for it’s ability to work where you live. There is no reason to choose material that will surly die in your winters or summers. It should have leaves that reduce well and there are all sorts of trees that this is easy to do with. Some examples of great bonsai starter material.

At the recent workshop at Steve DaSilva’s house, we had the opportunity to dig material. I had a woman that wanted me to choose a tree for her to work on. She was an older lady and told me she didn’t really wish to have a long term project, but wanted something to work on. There is no doubt that I can easily choose a piece of material out for myself. For me it’s a no brainer. I know what to look for. How do you convey to someone in three minutes how to look for material? How do you do this and not hurt peoples feelings? While I may not have done a very good job in the field, I hope I can convey that feeling here so someone can feel armed with enough information do go out and make an informed decision.

Lets start out by defining the parameters. There are three types of trees we deal with. Many more but for the sake of clarity lets focus on three. The three would be evergreen shrubs, conifers, and deciduous trees.

Evergreen shrubs would be like boxwood, ligustrum, azalea, olive, pyracantha.

Conifers would be junipers and pines.

Deciduous trees would be your maples, elms, hornbeam, zelkova and quince.

Each of these trees has a different way to be treated as bonsai. Prune all the green off a conifer and it dies. All the branches can be removed from a deciduous tree and they can be grown back. Evergreen shrubs have a very minimal canopy, made of foliage that is kept in check by hedging. Developing real branches on these takes years.

Armed with that kind of information we can deduce that when looking for a new tree, if price is a problem and you need to spend less money, then a deciduous tree will be a better choice.

Why?…..Because branches can be rebuilt very easily. A conifer on the other hand cannot be rebuilt very easy. So looking for a good conifer with branches in the correct places and interesting movement in the trunk that can’t be chopped is always going to cost more money tree for tree. A good deciduous tree may cost 50.00, but a similar conifer may cost a 100.00. We can turn the 50.00 dollar maple into a 100.00 maple in probably one season. One pays for work performed. The more work the tree exhibits the more it cost to purchase. Makes sense, works like that when buying a home too.

I started this exercise by showing many places one could buy material, but that is only part of the equation. First a person should go to as many exhibits as they possibly can. One needs to identify what kind of bonsai person they are. Casual, having fun kind of person. Serious but family comes first. Or all out die hard that spends 1000.00 a year on material and pots and would sell his wife for a new pot! Ok …sorry got carried away. I am a serious bonsai practitioner. There are many who are even more dedicated than I. When I had children at home I was rather cramped on spending money for things like trees, the kids need school clothes. After the kids were gone I had money to buy a pot here and there and buy material when it showed itself.

So identify and decide if you can go to those exhibits. The exhibits is where you network with like minded people on bonsai. You find out where to buy material, where to go and get good deals on pots, and who has the best starter material. What are other people using for soil and how do I get that stuff. Do I even want that stuff after taking to other people. Exhibits is when you can get down on your hands and knees and really look at how the more experienced people do what it is that makes their tree look so good. Being able to see how they continually cut back those branches and make all those directional changes in the branches.

So now you have determined what kind of artist you want to be and how much time and money to devote to your craft, and you know that going to exhibits to look at very good bonsai is an easy way to learn things. Most times in an exhibit the owner of the tree will be nearby and will be more than eager to talk about his tree with anyone who will listen. Trust me.

Is there a check list to help with choosing material?

I might copy this and use it as I look at material.

  1. Does the trunk have taper and good movement?

  2. Does the trunk have flare and move into the soil gracefully?

  3. If it’s a conifer is the foliage healthy and free from spider mite, and needle cast and fungus?

  4. If its a maple, is it a species that has short internodes and will ramify easily?

  5. If it’s a conifer does the branching exhibit lots of small shoots to work with or does it have a few long spindly branches with foliage at the tips?

  6. Are any of the branches on any tree already too large to be easily bent?

  7. If it’s a coifer does it have lots of branch whorls that will have to be dealt with?

  8. Do I have the skills to deal with any of these?

If you are seasoned, many of these may not be a problem as you may posses the skills to deal with the problems and heal them. If one knows how to graft branches, then buying a deciduous trunk could be a way to go. Maybe the top third of a tree is marvelous and you know how to layer, you could take the top right off the tree and have a great tree to own. If you don’t know how to do either of these, you will have to learn, if not, your chances for success diminish.

This is the hard part to convey to someone just starting out. I didn’t know this and had to learn the hard way. I boughts lots of crap. I bought crap that had no future. I didn’t know how to deal with it and so just floundered and struggled my way thru a hundred trees. It is painful for me to put these out there for people to see. This is how I started. This is what I did. 1986. I actually put these in bonsai pots.

2000. I actually built a custom stand and showed this in an exhibit. That’s guts!

1986. This is a real beauty, a tanuki elm on dead Sequoia roots!

So what I’m trying to say is that many can benefit from my mistakes of the past. I can explain what it is you should be looking for. If you can, spend the money now and start with something better and take years off the learning curve. If someone wishes to debate the difference between a 20.00 piece of material and a 100.00 piece of material, I don’t have much time for you. On the other hand if you have only 20.00 dollars to spend and you want the best you can find, I can help you do that. It will be smaller but that’s part of the game. Bonsai is not about buying the largest for your buck, it’s buying the most time for your buck, and that time is what it is all about. One has to pay for time. Somebody has to pay for it. If your young and have your whole life ahead, then buying small early and growing it out is super rewarding.

How can I see how certain trees were purchased and what they could become? That’s a very good question. I can only demonstrate that with some of my own trees since I have the pictures as purchased and what I did to improve them. Keep in mind that I said the sentence in the way I did for a reason. After we purchase material we improve it. Year after year, we tweak it and prune it and repot it and with each passing year we improve something. Sometimes small things, and sometimes large things. Sometimes it’s things under the soil that no one even sees.

This is a small Cork elm. I purchased this elm because it was small, short, compact, had good taper, was corking and is an elm. It’s en elm so I know from experience that this will grow well in my climate. I also know that cork elms are even more aggressive growers that regular Chinese elms. They grow branches fast, ramify well and take wire shaping very well. The thing is this elm also has good trunk movement. That is a big selling point with me.

This is a zelkova. I purchased this plant because it had a short fat trunk and most of the branching seemed to come from the top.

After cutting it back and growing it for a year it now look like I can grow a new canopy on it. It will make a nice broom in a couple years.

This itoigawa juniper was purchased because it had a huge flare at the soil line and crazy good movement in the trunk. It had so much foliage that a good tree was easy to coax from the material

The finished product after three years growing, and cutting, and pruning and making jins.

This shimpaku juniper was a no brainer. Anyone passing this by just has no taste. This is a magnificent piece of material and the u-turn in the trunk is one in a million.

After a couple years and pruning and bending with lots of wire I was able to get this from the material.

This is the standard tapering trident maple that a million growers seem to grow. If I wish a new piece of material this is what we have to choose from.

It took about 5 years to get to this point. Lots of pruning and grafting of branches, a ground layer to get it into the correct pot and the tree is pretty good.

Tired of the maples in the pine tree shape, I grafted three tridents I had around together.

Seven years later the tree has come along ways. Finally I have a maple that looks like a maple!

This pine is in the pine tree shape. At least that part is right. Now to just put some branches on it.

It’s taken five years to get the tree to this point, but it had good bones in the trunk with spectacular movement.

I purchased this tree in 2001. It had a few branches and some really terrible roots but it had good bones and I knew it would just take time to get the tree looking like something.

19 years later the tree has come along ways. It gets repotted each year with out fail and always fills the pot with roots. This tree has seen 10 different pots. This current blue pot is the tenth and I just repotted this tree recently. It is now in it’s eleventh pot. The unveiling will be soon.

Juniper Winter Work   6 comments

I have worked on many shimpaku and other species juniper over the winter. Many were restyled and re-potted.

Mas Ishii Shimpaku

This first tree is a tree I purchased in 2002. It had been a very beautiful tree but I managed to ruin it over the years. It has escaped death numerous times from spider mite and pinching misfortunes. This is the tree in 2005 after escaping death twice.

Another few years and more rattyness.

A few more years and even less green left.

Left to grow for a few years to get strong and now it may be ready for a restyle….at least with whats left.

Restyled and repotted in a glazed Bunzan.

George Muranaka prostrata.

This tree was purchased in Nov. of 2014. It was left to grow for a couple years and then a first styling was begun.

Cleaned up and put into a first pot.

part of the canopy would be removed and jinned entirely.

Re grow and then style whats left.

George Muranaka Shimpaku

I purchased this tree from George around 2006. Once again it suffered from spider mite and my lack of awareness on how to take good care of the species.

Left to grow and a re style and then a repot. Looks like this now and is growing quite well.

Benny Kim (Kim’s Bonsai) procumbens.

The tree is on the left and purchased in 2002. It had a good trunk about two inches across.

Lots of jins on this one and some carving.

A first styling

Starting to look pretty good.

A new direction for this one. It had started to slump really bad due to the roots giving up on one side. Time to turn it upright.

Done…for now.

Steve DaSilva Procumbens.

These were struck as small plants and wired and twisted up. Planted in a field for a few years and dug up in 2015.

I would use the stock as a demo at the Fresno Home and Garden show in 2016

As it sits today.

Ed Clark Shimapku

This tree came by way of Ed Clark from Bonsai Northwest in Washington State. I kept it for a year making sure it was good for a repot in 2017.

Ready for some work.

It was removed from its growing container and combed out. Root structure was fairly small like most junipers but was rather one sided. I wnted to plant it into a signature Begei pot I had and felt that once planted here it could stay for a while. The one sided root meant it was planted well off center but will be fixed later when new roots go and allow for more diligent root pruning.

Now for the style part.

There is a large looping jin that comes over the top of the tree. The shoot I wish to be the apex is in front of that jin. I need to get it behind.

So…with some praying and bending and pulling I ease the jin around the shoot.

Now I am happy with the position of everything and can start the details.

More pruning and removing everything I don’t want. That should mean I have only the things I do want. Good in theory and poor in practise….

After some wire and manipulation I am able to coex a pretty decent tree out of the aftermath. Next year I will concentrate on managing shoot strength and how to treat possible shari on the trunk….or not!

Mas Ishii Shimpaku

I purchased this tree from Gary Ishii in 2004. Like all my shimpaku I battled the spider mites with fury. Mostly they seem to win but never kill the tree but ruin it for many years till successive cut backs get rid of grey and yellow foliage.

This style took place in 2010 after the tree had recovered for many years. It was planted into a Sarah Rayner shallow glazed bunjin pot.

This winter the tree underwent another re style and pot change. This time into a heavily patinanted Bunjin Begei.

….then the styling

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.





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


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.



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


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.





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.





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.






Ed Clark….redux   4 comments

This is the follow up to my post about Ed Clark. While I have several trees from the man he lives a good hour and a half away so I have never taken the time to go see what he has. That was my first mistake.

The nursery is tucked right up next to the foot hills and the canopy of trees and shade structures and hoop houses, of which I seen about five or more with several acres under shade cloth. I was amazed when I started to look around. I could hear a radio blasting country music so I followed the sound. I found Ed there in the midst of several benches of pines busy pulling needles, cutting candles and cleaning weeds out of pots. He was also potting up some material into larger containers. I had mentioned that Ed did not have a lot left from the old days, but I did see quite a few older maples in large containers and he had these cool tridents over some really black limestone type rock. Very cool to see these.

Second mistake, I did not have my camera. I took all these pictures with my Iphone, and while some are really good, some are so so, and some are kinda blurry. I think we can get an idea of the scope and breadth of the place from these photo’s. Keep in mind that back in his commercial nursery days he had no benches. Older now and he said he did not want to bend over if he could help it. he built all the benches you see in the photo’s. Ed told me he spent $5,000.00 just on bench material.

On to the photo’s.

I have tried to break this up into logical blocks of the same kinds of trees, although I walked thro so many hoop houses with benches full of hundreds of pots of trees in age groups. I try to start with the young ones first and move to the larger of the species. Don’t worry too much, it’s all tree porn. Ed Clark showing me around on a drizzly day.


These are some of those tridents on the black rock that are over 30 years old.







These are just some odd tridents hanging out on benches.









These are twisted pomegranate. Ed has hundreds of these all started from cuttings. Many of them have had the wire thing done to them also to try to introduce some movement.







All the previous photos have been the pomegranates. This bench with those on the right are full of movement also.


This is some of the material from many years ago. There are large maples in here and many of them are very difficult to find cultivars.



I wanna go back for this one. I told Ed to save this for me and I will dig it out when down next. Kashima Maple


Here’s a big block of procumbens with wire.

I will let the Itoigawa speak for itself. Ed says he has just reached the point where he has enough material to keep the wire going on the trees and adding movement. wire on the pines is easy peasy, Ed says the junipers are more tricky because they break so easy.














By far Ed has mostly pines that have received the wire. He has house after house full of pines. I would easily estimate there well over a thousand or more trees here.





In this next photo one can see the small trees on the right that do not have many needles. These are banshosho dwarf pines that have been grafted onto mikawa understock.

Lets just look at some of these trunks. I was mesmerized and my arms were shaking like a dog shitting peach pits. Blurry yes, but still worth it.


















Here are a couple of shots of young pines with the wire embedded at the beginning of the process. It seems that there are not that many twists and turns, but as it grows and swells it must find new paths to grow which adds all the character.


061 (2)



Larger pines in baskets. These have been taken from round containers and placed in pond baskets. Here they will bulk up and gain girth for larger shohin type pines.


My hand for comparison. These trunks are fully 1 1/2+ inches across and about 6 inches tall.



Pines in long cups for stones. The roots on these are growing length in an effort to merge them to stones in the future.


Large pines growing out. These pines are in baskets and then buried in these 25 gallon large nursery containers. This provides a controlled setting but gets as much growth as being in the ground.



My hope is that I can convince Ed for me to style this tree.


Bonsai Tips with Justin Case – Winter Silhouette   1 comment

For those that have trees getting to a more refined state, winter time is the perfect time to photograph trees. I like to shoot them at night since I don’t have to fiddle with backdrops, and the camera will shoot pretty true with its own flash. During a night shoot, the outline of all the twigs will show up and dead spots, bare spots, bulges, out-of-place branches and all sorts of faults will show up. This is the time to get in there and correct these places so that a new photo can be shot. Only the owner will know the whole picture since a photo is so two-dimensional, but for a straight on full view, it will be pretty true to what the viewer might see.

Of course tonight kind of played tricks with me since it is a full moon. I had some serious moon shine in the background and had to turn the contrast way down in post production to get the background blacked out. For a test it can be fun to see the trees in full twig. I love this time of year and the trees do too.

Shoot your trees at night and look for faults….Justin Case


Building a Giant Based Trident   10 comments

In the previous repotting post I started a giant based trident maple tree that will be grown on a tile with five holes. This method is suggested in Gary Woods blog and I have found his method to be very good for what it is I want to do. This is what I have done. I have no idea if it is close to what he did, but at least it is ready for the season and I will find out soon enough if it going to be successful.

I’ll start by reposting the pictures again of the work done on the tridents for the project.






The trees have been removed from the pots and the roots cut back. The trees sit and soak in a bucket of water with B-1 in it and this way each tree will not dry out while I prepare all five trees.


I am going to use the 18 x 6 inch colander for this project. This hold about two thirds of a cubic foot of soil.


For all of you out there wondering what happened to the Growstone, here it is. This project will be grown out in 100 percent Growstone. This is a synthetic recycled glass product very similer to pumice. I like the size and the irregular shape. I feel that with the colanders increased air and the increased airflow in the medium, I should get super hard growth all year. Couple that with hard fertilizing and plenty of water and I should hope to see some layering taking place by fall.


The whole thing planted out in the growstone. The tree in the middle had the most interesting shape, the lowest buds to cut back to after it fuses and the largest trunk. This will be the tree I keep after all is done down below. It is important to keep a low bud for the middle tree since I will probably need to chop this at some point due to the rank growth it will do thru the year.


I covered the entire surface with long fibered moss since the product is light and I don’t want to displace it while watering. This is the moss dry.


And this is the surface after watering. Now all I have to do is wait and see how it grows.


I recieved a comment about what I am trying to accomplish here with a photo or drawing. This is a simple drawing showing the process over a few years. The trees will continue to grow and spread over the plate and then will grow onto one another to fuse at the base. As the base increases in size, the four outer trunks will be chopped away leaving the large base to heal and grow even larger.

trident base

OMG, seeds again?   4 comments

Well Sunday after the swapmeet I was able to get my seeds in for this year. I bought seed from a different company and hopefully the germination rate will be better. I planted 400 seeds this time, and I plant on making more of the tridents under screen this time. This year I have a new idea which I will share when ready and plan on keeping the seedlings confined much longer than this year. Recently on a discussion forum post I saw some trident all twisted up on growing cascade style from a stone. I will try to introduce a yamadori style method to these tridents and see what I get. Many of these will also be grown in a clump so that they intertwine and graft together to make a larger trunk sooner.

This year rather than grow these in turface and sand I decided to grow these in Black Gold brand cactus soil. It is a blend of pine bark and pumice about 50/50. The bark is pretty coarse and I am sure it would work as bonsai soil also. Pretty easy to get at any home depot.

It should be an interesting year all around.


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