Archive for the ‘trident maple’ Tag

The Trees that Throw Apples?   Leave a comment

Early in my life I saw a movie that scared the bejeezus out of me. The Wizard of Oz. As a small child the beautiful parts of the movie ended up taking a back seat to the scary parts of the movie. I mean, who could ever forget that green witch with her evil cackle and scary looking broom. Later, we would see the team skip down a yellow road and into a spooky forest only to be molested by evil apple throwing trees. That image stuck with me until this day.

Now I have talked many times about a term called “mental model”. A mental model is a term used to explain why people are drawn or not drawn to certain images in their life. Due to my age, BI (before internet) my first exposure to bonsai was the first book I ever purchased. I bought it on my honeymoon and read it cover to cover many times during that week. The pictures in that book set my mental model of what bonsai should look like. I didn’t have the internet to look at and be exposed to countless thousands of images of bonsai from around the world like so many do today. That book was my world and that is what I knew, and bonsai for me was contained upon 50 pages in a small book. Of course my horizons broadened greatly as I found out about the bonsai scene within the state and began to see images of trees not in the book

This modified single trunk tapering “S” curve trunk was my mental model of what bonsai should look like. If only everything we find in nature could look like this!

This photo also captivated my imagination due to my proximity to the trees in nature near me.

Inspiration.

This is how I thought bonsai should look. I thought based on the pictures I saw of how to develop bonsai and a finished product, that all bonsai were shaped like an “S” , had massive taper and finished in a pointed triangle.

The subject of this article started in 2011. I was invited to Steve DaSilva’s home for the first time to dig some material from his field. The maples we were digging at that time were about five years old. They had been started in 2006. Up to this point I had only one really big, and good trident maple in my collection. When I saw these in the ground I allowed my awe to get the best of me. I wanted the biggest one I could find. I wanted the tallest, the fattest and digging it gave me so much satisfaction.

I had that puppy out of the ground, Planted in a cut down ten, and filled it with my soil mix. That is just how this tree has sat for the last nine years.

I have moved it around my yard countless times and tried this and that. Started some pine tree type branching on it, but the tree never became all consuming to me. It was always just watered and cared for, without doing much bonsai work to it. Last year after a look at the tree and what I was able to take out of the top, I decided to layer out that top.

That top had made a turn to the side and a new leader was chosen and it looked as if it could be something.

The top removed and planted out.

After removal of the top, I had this stump. Many of the branches left on the trunk have not necessarily been trained in that shape, they are mostly there and that way due to me cutting them back so they didn’t stick out into a travel path. They many times presented a trip hazard and I would just lop them off.

Cesar Ordonez, a new guy to bonsai but eager to learn, asked if he could come over on a Sunday due to his work, and help out with what ever it was I was doing. This past Sunday was a good time for that as I had some things that needed tending to. I put the big monster on the bench and we looked it over. I had it on a turntable and I asked Cesar if there was anything he saw in the stump. We turned it different directions and looked and looked. It had branches but they were in not so good places

I began working the top with a rotary tool. I removed wood from between branches in an effort to add some taper to the stump.

Based on various indicators around the stump like branches, taper, or lack there of, nebari, large roots and future refinement I kept coming back to this one place. I indicated that by placing a sharpie mark on the base of the trunk. While there are places that the trunk looks fatter, it comes with other things that ruin that look. I liked what was going on but was unsatisfied with the shape of the trunk. For this thing to be believable it would need to look like it had lived thru harsh storms and rough living. Nature would have tapered this thing all by itself.

I turned the tree a little off my mark and carved some more. It was looking better and more of the feeling I wanted. The trunk didn’t look so blocky this way and had a subtle turn. I asked Cesar what he thought and I just nicked it with my grinder to seal the deal. No turning back now.

The only thing that kept me from working more was that damn eye poker branch.

With that branch gone there was nothing stopping me from really getting to work on the trunk.

In my research for spooky trees I found some pictures. Of course we have the Wizard of Oz, which had the creepy talking apple throwing trees that scared me as a child.

In my research, which means I look to the internet for inspiration. I found a common theme in scary trees. They all tend to be blocky trunks, cut off square and branches coming out of the top. Perfect, I’m on my way.

 

More grinding with the Arbor Tech and more woods turns to sawdust. At this point I am adding some texture to the removal of the wood. This will become much more prominent in the future as the interior dries out and texture can be carved with fire and things like that.

I did some cleaning up of branch stubs and buds on the trunk ready to pop.

The tree was popped out of the can and the roots were exposed to the air nine years later. Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of that, though Cesar may have pics on his phone. The tree was prepped up and planted into the colander to build a better root ball and the tree was planted more slanted to accentuate the creepy nature of the tree. Most of the pictures above show the subtle curved trunk at an angle in the soil.

Though the branches are large and unbendable, I was able to move a lot of them. Some of the big ones will be carved down later as smaller new growth, that can be wired into twisty spooky shapes, can be done.

New pot for an old Friend   3 comments

This Trident maple has been the subject of many articles here but this time it will get a new pot. Re potting here startes early, like in January. This tree wtill has Christmas ornaments on it from the previous month.

The tree is lifted from the pot and a thick matt of roots are starting to move already. This tree is so vigorous it must be re potted each year as the roots lift the tree from the thin pot.

I remove a full two inch ring from the tree and comb out the roots.

 

The new pot is from Robert Pressler and Kimura Bonsai in Southern California. It is a sky blue Chinese bag pot. Trying the pot for size. I like it!

Drainage layer.

Soil layer with 30 percent coarse fir bark.

Watering it in…

The beauty shot.


At the recent Fresno Home and Garden Show March 2017.

The Branch Graft   1 comment

This maple received an approach graft on April 22. The new graft was the second from a failed first try during the winter which never grew very well. It was an experiment, one which has been logged to never do again. Do grafts in the beginning of the growing season for insured success.

The place where I did the graft was in an area with a sharp bend , but branches , probably growing in the wrong direction had been removed. There were two branch scars in the area in which I wanted to place the graft. To compound matters I also had a scar from the failed attempt some months earlier. One of the scars was off to the side of the graft and one would be directly below the graft. The graft was made and today on inspection it was noticed that the scar below the cut was starting to move significantly. The callus roll was re-energised and it was moving due to the addition of the branch in the area. This can only happen when the area is receiving nutrition from the graft. In other words it has knit.

This was the original graft with the tree tied outside of the pot.

 

 

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This is the second graft with the tree, same tree, tied into the pot.

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The new graft was made over the first one. A sharper downward angle was made on the second graft. The original cut can be seen just above the tie wrap.

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The graft is slathered well with sealant.

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This is what the graft now looks like. There is swelling at the bud base which I intentionally grafted close to the trunk.

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Here is a shot of the wound below the graft showing the swelling roll of material now growing on the old wound. I have had the tree two years and nothing in this area has shown any signs of growth due to there not being a branch around to supply nutrition here.

 

 

 

 

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Here we can see the side wound and how that one is starting to roll too. Both of the buds circled in red are the ones that will ultimately become the future branch. Once ready to cut away from the host plant it will be reduced back to this pair of buds and the new branch grown on from there. In doing this I can control the budding of the future branch by cutting back early and saving buds close to the trunk. This makes a better branch rather than trying to build a branch from a sterile neck with no buds and never will have buds.

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Catching up around the yard   2 comments

This is my first spring since my wife was down for a year with cancer. I did not spend any time in the backyard and just watered trees. As the radiation was over last July I was able to catch up on a few things bonsai related but much of the damage was done and I would be playing catch up for a while. Over the winter I was able to repot and get some unfinished business out of the way like pruning and styling of a few trees that had never looked like much.

So this is the fruit of my labor. Still have a ways to go but most stuff is caught up now. Still looking for a place to put trees under construction, but that a never ending job. Lets have a look around the backyard.

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There are 30 shohin on the bench right now with about 12 more coming soon (two or more years). An assortment of elms, pines and tridents still to come

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This California juniper is now in its second year in the grow stones and it has never looked better.

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Ghidorah -1 gat some trimming, a repot into a nice Chinese round Literati pot and a good painting of lime supher.

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Took this tree to the club meeting yesterday and cleaned and oiled the pot, cut back the moss and applied some black/red sifted lava around the moss to dress the top. Some light pruning and wire and I’m done for a couple months.

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Well these two are just growing. They both need help.

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Two recent aquisitions, The Maple last Nov. and the giant cork bark elm a couple months ago.

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The above maple, Oshio Beni is now making leaves. Ther are unfolding each day and I am excited to see the red leaves finally. After thirty one years of bonsai this is the first red leved maple.

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It is pushing very hard and the buds out of the old wood show that.

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The Muranaka pine is sending candles out now.

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Crepe mrytle I purchased last week. Leaves come out red and then turn copper finally green

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The elm root cutting are sending green buds skyward. Leaves are beginning to form and next year training will start on more shohin trees.

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This small 3 inch tall pine from Ed has candles already 14 inches long.

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I have two hornbeam shohin and both are getting ready to unfurl the leaves.

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The ole miss, looking great this year.

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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 even though 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 category 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 allowed to follow all the curves and indentations.

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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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Almost too late   2 comments

I looked over the trees on Friday and had a trip to the coast planned for Sat. The buds on the maples looked good and I felt I had some time to repot. Good…I can go to Santa Cruz on Sat. and repot the maples on Sunday. Got up Sunday and decided they would wait until next weekend. Big Mistake! Never put off to tomorrow what you can do with your lazy ass.

Came home from work today after a 74 degree day after the small rain storm on Friday and Sat. The buds on the tridents had jumped right over the swelling stage and bolted right to the green leaves unfurling stage. No time to lose, move the table into the yard, get the buckets of soil already made and wire for the pot this is “go time”.

The tree was already in a state that need repotting for sure. The tree was pushing the root pad up and out of the pot.

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The tree was unwired from the pot and the whole root pad was lifted from the pot. It was thick as the pot and dense and fiberous. The entire rim of the pad was removed from the tree. In past years I have taken this even shorter to the trunk but this year the nebari is finally improving to the point that cutting back too short means getting into larger roots and I don’t want to disturb those yet.

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This is how short the pad was made this year. At this point it still has a small layer of soil on top and the pad is full thickness, about 1.5 inches.

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I then rake the bottom of the pad to dislodge the roots from the bottom. These are allowed to hang down and then are trimmed flush with the hard bottom of the trunk.

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Now the old soil is raked off and the roots teased for the new soil. At this point the root pad is about 3/4 inch thick. The tree is oriented for aesthetics and then placed directly on the bottom of the pot with out soil. It is wired firmly…I mean firmly, so that it will not push away from the pot. I want all the energy of the first growth spurt to be against a hard surface to get maximum girth on the roots around the tree and to swell at the soil line. The tree at this point is starting to get a good flare at the soil trunk transition and this is due to planting directly on the pot and firm tie in of the tree.

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The tree is tied and I can pick it up by the trunk and the pot does not move. The tree at this point still has no soil in it. Just a tree and pot. The soil for the whole tree is backfilled around the depression around the edge of the pot. The soil in the roots from the previous season are not washed from the root mass. This allows the new roots to fill the new area with roots while the roots next to the trunk can inarch and graft together to help form the nebari.

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The tree is now backfilled and watered in and placed back on the bench. It will be full of leaves by Friday.

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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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