Archive for the ‘twigs’ Tag

New pot for an old Friend   2 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.

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Two Trident maples get new pots.   4 comments

This trident was a purchase from Ian Price of Lone Pine in 2009 at the GSBF convention in Anaheim.001

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Signature Yamafusa pot purchased for the tree four years ago. Needed all four years to get it into the pot.dsc_0031

 

This trident maple was purchased from Steve DaSilva in 2013. It was dug from his field.0003

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This Japanese bag pot was purchased from Kora Daleger back from a recent trip to Japan. It has had many root cut backs to get it into this pot.dsc_00361

 

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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Bonsai Tips with Justin Case – Maple Defoliation   1 comment

I was going to post this tomorrow but since today is the last consecutive date that will ever be seen by all people now alive on Earth, I decided to post it today. 12-13-14

Today I wish to talk about the maple myth of defoliation. When I think of the term defoliation I am reminded of a fortune I received in a cookie many years ago. It reads;  Before you wonder “Am I doing things right,” ask “Am I doing the right things?”

So the question has to be asked, “What is it you expect from defoliation?” The myth says two things will happen after defoliation.

1. leaves will be smaller.

2. increase in ramification.

While it is partially true that the leaves will become smaller after defoliation, the reason why they are smaller is decreased health in the tree. Defoliation in and of itself weakens the tree, thereby making smaller leaves. There is no significant ramification increase by the technique of defoliation alone. To engage in the task of defoliation, light or heavy pruning is done in conjunction with the defoliation. It is the light or heavy pruning that increases the twigs on the branches and not the defoliation.

A good strong growing maple tree will fight with itself for apical dominance. A few branches will emerge victorious and will begin to elongate. These runners will continue to elongate, growing in girth and length until stopped by pruning. The runner will continue because of a terminal bud. This bud has the genetic predisposition to continue growing straight ahead without lateral branching. Along with this running on top, the same will be going on below the soil with fast increase of girth and length of roots. These long shoots are what cause roots to wrap around the walls of a container.

Plants grow leaves proportionate to the quantity contained by its branches. A tree with a few large branches will have few leaves but of a very large size. The trees health needs are met by a certain amount of real estate tied up in leaves. The tree is much healthier making 25 large leaves the size of your hand, and much weaker making 250 leaves the size of a dime. If a person has a tree with the 25 leaves and wants the 250 small leaves, then a support structure for so many leaves must be built. Defoliating a tree with 25 leaves to get smaller leaves is not only hard on the tree from a defolaition stand point but also hard on the tree from a nutrition (photosynthesis) stand point. While defoliating the tree with 25 leaves may get you some smaller leaves in the beginning, unless more grow in a hurry, they will get larger in a few weeks. Thats just the nature of the beast.

How can I get a tree to have smaller leaves and more twigs?

PRUNE CONTINUALLY!

There is nothing more simple than pruning a maple to increase ramification and make smaller leaves. If you have more twigs the tree will make more leaves. If the tree has more leaves they don’t have to be as large to get the same amount of photosynthesis. The tree will make small leaves all by itself without ever removing one leaf for the rest of its life. In this case a heavily ramified tree will always have small leaves and will never have to be defoliated to decrease the size. If the tree has proper structure and twigs it needs no defoliation for that either. So a properly prepared maple has absolutely no need for defoliation.

I read on many forums people recommending to defoliate to build ramification and defoliating to make smaller leaves, and then a picture of the tree is shown and it has a trunk, five branches the thickness of your finger and one or two tertiaries. Defoliating is going to do absolutely nothing for this tree. The only thing that is needed to help the tree is selective pruning. People recommend defoliating because the myth has been perpetuated on the net and people keep spreading it like gospel and have never even worked with a maple with a properly ramified crown. People throw the word around and have no idea what the technique does and does not do. I think they think it makes them sound important or that they know what they are doing.

When is defoliating be necessary?

When a person has a properly ramified maple and the tree may have some insect damaged leaves or burnt edges and the tree is ready to be exhibited. At that time a tree can be defoliated about 60 days before the event and the tree should have a whole new change of clothes. (Koromo ga e) This tree can be exhibited now and all the leaves will be fresh and green. This is not necessary with the spring growth and is usually reserved for showing in late summer when leaves have burned thru the summer.

Tell me more about pruning

Maples respond well to pruning. pruning a maple is akin to mowing the grass, they just keep pruducing divisions. What is a division? Its when the terminal bud is removed the tip of a branch. All living plants have a terminal bud. It is the bud that is wired to move ahead in a straight line. When a branch has its terminal innterupted by removal, the two apical lateral buds will shoot away in opposite directions, a division. Some may know this as a forked branch. If the two lateral buds are not allowed to elongate, meaning to let go the new terminal bud that emerges at the tip of the new lateral shoots, then two new shoots will emerge from those two lateral. So now one branch was pruned and made two, then pruned again and made four, etc, etc. Now this steady pruning will not go on forever. One may get about three good prunings on a healthy tree. More than that and the trees health is severely diminshed and the tree may respond by not opening any more buds till fall. Pruning in early spring and early summer should be held to March thru June. Rest thru summer and then cut back in late August to middle Sept.

I have a few pictures to share. First is a couple seedling trident maples from two years ago. They have been allowed to grow unchecked and are about 7 feet tall this year. The trunks are about 3/8 inch across at the soil and are grown on a tile. There is no branching on these shoots. The terminal bud has not been touched and for all intents and purposes, these plants will continue to gorm untill interrupted by a storm, snail, insect anything that would interrupt the growth.

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If I bend on of the shoots over to take a picture we can see all the buds for next year already set on the shoot. The terminal is almost twice as large as the laterals. This is becuase the terminal contains two sets of leaves instead of only one leaf. Maples grow in offset pairs of leaves offset by 90 degrees. This is to insure that a large proportion of the leaves will be in contact with the sun.

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Even palmatums that grow in my yard exhibit the same growth habit by elongated shoots growing to the sky unhindered. They will not ramify untill interrupted by pruning. Why should they? this is easy growing like this.

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At the base of each leaf stock is an adventitious bud. A adventitious bud is a bud that in the “advent” the leaf gets eaten or burned off in the sun, and new leaf is ready to take its place. Now here is the part one has to think about. If a person comes in and defoliates this branch, artificially makes it believe the leaves were eaten off by a moth larve, the branch is not going to make more branches. It is just going to make new leaves. The terminal bud is still there, all the latent advetitious buds are there and now they are all stimulated into action to make new leaves. There has been no division of branch or twig, just new leaves in exactly the same place they were before.

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See how much larger the terminal is than the lateral. One leaf compared to two.

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In the picture below, one can see the stub in the middle od the branch that was cut. This was a pruning. This picture makes this look large but in reality the stub is half the size of a BB, about 3 mm.

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If the shoot is pruned to the red line, the two buds at the end of the shoot will become branches and the buds below that will become leaves. They are marked T for terminal and L for leaf.

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If one were to prune out even further on the branch the effect would be the same except there would be two more buds below and two more leaves. The problem with leaving two sets of nodes behind the cut is that the neck of the branch segments are two large and on smaller trees this can make the tree look disproportionate. If you look behind my first scar and go down a little more, you can see the scar of the branch cut before. So what you see here is a small, less than 1/2 inch segment of a branch cut back to split once and then split again, and now I will cut again and have three branch divisions in 1/2 an inch. This is how you build ramification and attain smaller leaves, by making more of them. More than the tree actually needs.

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In the case of this branch below I would be better to make the cut at the first node and make a directional change in the ramification. This area is in the top of this tree and I don’t need the branches horizontal but rather upward and full. Keep in mind that one does not have to keep both buds. The downward growing one in this case can be rubbed off and only the upward growing bud can be kept. This shoot will elongate and another pair can be kept that may be in a better position after some growth.

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Just so you know the tree in these pictures looks just like what yu see. Still has all its green unburned leaves on 12-13-14. I hope this tip can help some of those out there with what defoliation really is. It can be used with great effect of heavily ramified trees , but does not build raminfication on its own. Do it if you must but know that all you are doing is weakening the tree and losing precious weeks in the growing season to growing back leaves. That is such a waste of time. I say; prune to get twigs..Justin case.

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

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Fresno Bonsai Society Monthly Meeting   1 comment

I think everyone is familiar with the club monthly meeting. Business for an hour and then get to work on trees, ask for ideas and help. walk around and look at other people’s trees and ask questions. It’s a good day and even though you may only get to work for an hour or two on a tree, its relaxing and fun and away from home for three hours.

 

I took my camera to see what might pop up for picture-taking. There were some real killer trees being worked on. This pine was plucked and wired today.

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An old San Jose was cleaned of old needles and prepared for wire.

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This is a ragged old California Juniper

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This white pine was brought as an extra for someone to work on that didn’t have a tree.

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This old procumbens is from the same guy who had the tree I recently styled into a bunjin. I asked if this one was for sale and he told me that he may get rid of it so I will stay on this one. They tidied up the top, removed some branches and applied some wire.

 

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This is an old Sierra Juniper. It was dug about 15 years ago and is in the process of being wired. It is currently about half wired. Still a long way to go.

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Look at the wire in this photo compared to the next one.

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Probably enough wire on this to go to the moon and back.

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I took this tree today. I took it because it had been cut back late in the year. It had only received this one cutting all year. It started out slow due to snails early on at spring bud break and was slow to get started. It finally bounced back around April and then started to elongate. Health issue with my wife kept me in the house most of the summer and I did not really get out in the yard to start pruning till around the middle of July.

 

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This was after two-hour work removing heavy places and long shoots. I still have the top 10 percent to do.

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Here is the top of the tree. There is a problem here. This heavy apex needs to be cut out now. I should have cut it out last year since when looking back on pictures from last year I can see how this started, and due to being in the top of the tree, it really swelled this year with no pruning.

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This is what I cut out today.

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I suffered today doing all this small tip work on this trident trying to clean triples and pruning places where clusters of twigs needed to be reduced. Rather than use concave cutters I always clean out these places with knob cutters because they do not split the wood. Concave cutters will split branchlets in half due to the cutting motion of the blades. They work like wedges and push the wood away splitting it in the process where knob cutters shave wood away like a knife or chisel. I went to the bonsai nursery in town and found these small shohin sized knob cutters. My reg size 8″ are on top.

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They don’t look that much different since they are only about 1.5 inches shorter, but the loop is smaller and the width of the cutting edge is about 3/8 inch instead of the 5/8″ I was using. I will use these tomorrow and clean up the top. Should be able to really get in there without breaking small twigs with the giant pruners.

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Fall Color = Healthy Tree, what?   2 comments

In my last post I said this:

“The last push of sugar the tree pushes for preperation for winter is used to produce the next years crop of buds and it is this over abundance of sugar that makes the trees turn color. The better and more brilliant the Fall color, the better the crop of new buds for the next year. Those of you not getting good fall color are not growing healthy maples.”

It seems that I recieved a couple emails and a comment from Shane Martin in AUS.

Shane says:

“Hi Al,
Early in this piece you said if you’re not getting good fall color, then you’re not growing healthy trees….. What are they lacking?
I was always of the belief, that good fall color was due to low temperatures and shorter hours of sunlight?”

I Think I can answer this question with a blog post. First we have to determine why a maple turns red in the first place. It does this to keep the tree from losing its leaves in an effort to transfer energy from the leaves to the trunk and roots. How is this done?

For a large part of the year, leaves are a tree’s workhorses, constantly converting carbon dioxide, water and sunlight into energy in a process called photosynthesis. The special ingredient for this process, the pigment chlorophyll, is w­hat gives leaves their bright, green color for much of the year. But while chlorophyll is the star of the show, it has some help in the form of the pigments carotene and xanthophyll. Xantho is Greek for “yellow,” and carotene is what gives items like carrots and eggyolks their orangish color. These two pigments are always present in leaves and help absorb sunlight, which they transfer to chlorophyll for photosynthesis.

As summer nears its end and days get shorter, the increased amount of darkness incites trees to prepare for a sort of hibernation. Leaves won’t be able to continue photosynthesizing during winter due to the dry air and lack of sunlight , so the tree does two things. First, it forms a separation layer made of corklike cells at the base of each leaf to seal it off from the tree. Second, it stops producing chlorophyll since it won’t need this pigment until the days start to lengthen once again in the spring. With chlorophyll out of the picture, the yellow and orange pigments get a chance to shine.

The red hues, which come from pigments called anthocyanins, are slightly more complicated. Whereas all trees contain chlorophyll, carotene and xanthophyll, not all of them produce anthocyanins. Even the ones that do have anthocyanins only produce it under certain circumstances.

Remember that layer of cells at the base of the leaf? Its purpose is to protect the tree during the colder winter and prevent it from drying out. When the separation layer is complete, the leaves fall off in the tree’s attempt to conserve energy. But before the leaves fall off and the tree closes up shop, it wants to pull in as much sugar and nutrients as possible from its leaves, which is where the anthocyanin comes in.

Although scientists offer several different reasons for why some trees produce anthocyanins and autumn leaves change color, the prevailing theory is that anthocyanins protect the leaves from excess sunlight and enable the trees to recover any last remaining nutrients. The reason you’ll see more vibrant reds during some years is that lots of sunlight and dry weather increase the sugar concentration in tree sap, triggering the tree to release more anthocyanins in a last-ditch effort to gather up energy to get through the winter. In addition, near-freezing weather, low nutrient levels and other plant stressors seem to trigger increased levels of anthocyanins.

If it’s been especially rainy and overcast, you won’t see much red foliage. Without bright sunlight, the trees don’t need the added protection that the red pigments provide, so they don’t bother producing them.

What this means is that damaged leaves like wind burnt and sun burnt leaves can offer the tree little energy for the next year. Since the final leaves of the year are responsible for transfering the energy for the tree to start it out in spring, it seems reasonable to keep the tree as healthy as possible during this last a most crucial part of its season. This means that the tree has to be healthy, not just living.

This is what Boon Manakitivipart has to say about bonsai soil and healthy and living:

“But there is an additional thing about soil and bonsai people. I have found people’s evaluation of soils faulty, because many bonsai people do not make a difference between “alive” and “healthy.” So many think if their trees are not dying, their soil must be a good one. But death or no death is not what you are looking for. A healthy tree has the right amount of bust, the right color. Healthy trees are more flexible than trees that are just able to keep themselves alive. Here is where training is important. Every species may tell you in a different way whether they are healthy or not. Just because it is not dying does not mean that it is healthy.”

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/leaves-turn-red1.htm

http://bonsaikc.com/bonsai/interviews-and-reviews/an-interview-with-boon-manakitivipart/boon-on-soil/

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