Pruned Maples

The leaves of two of my maples have finally just about dropped so more pruning to shape was needed after a year’s free growth for both of these two.

First up a small Deshojo maple that has never flourished in my flower beds:


Before – front



Before – back. Note the ugly scar.


After. A possible new front with the beginnings of ramification that shall hopefully evolve into a broom style shohin bonsai tree.

The other is also a Japanese Maple.  It’s a less common ‘Sango Kaku’ variety with beautiful young red/pink park.  This too never flourished in the garden, even less so when my young boy cycled over it and broke the apex.  Hence the significant trunk chop.  Everything has been regrown this year thanks to some backbudding.


Before – front.


Before – side.



Difficult to see but basically I’ve left the leader to thicken and continue extending next year. Other branches have been cut short to begin ramification next year. This could be a new front if the leader thickens enough to make a smoother transition up the trunk.  It also has the best nebari.



Wired Pine

I finally got round to wiring this young Scots Pine into a sort of literati image.  It’ll do for an initial styling.  A lot of buds are ready to pop next season in the lower half of the trunk and I’ll let these grow out to improve the trunk taper. Eventually they will be jinned or chopped.  I don’t need much increase in height or thickness, just better bark that only comes with age.  I’ve not seen many shohin literati trees so this will be something a bit different.







Young Field Maple Projects

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a mature ,full size Field Maple (Acer Campestre) growing in the garden and this has produced many seedlings that self sow around the place.  The last few years I’ve been growing some of the biggest seedlings in pots and they are now at the stage where they can start to be trained as small bonsai material.

Before and afters of recently pruned projects:

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This (above)  will be trained as a single informal upright after I discovered it had fantastic surface roots.  Some long branches were retained to promote thickening.  I haven’t decided which trunk line to keep yet.

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This is a twin trunk project assembled from two saplings earlier this year.  I started this simply because I wanted to try something new with two unpromising pieces of material.  Hopefully the project shall be a greater success than the individual trees used but I know it shall take a long time. The two have hopefully started to fuse cambium layers and shall remain in this tub to encourage the formation of a solid unit for the next number of years.  Free growth this year to recover from rootpruning.  I realised that the uppertrunks were growing in different directions so I have clipped most of the extended branches back and will keep the minor trunk about the same height, with the major trunk being allowed to grow about another third taller.

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This is the largest of the field maples that I have with a base of 3cm.  The surface roots aren’t bad but are in the process of being improved by ground layering a branch that popped at the base last year.  You can see it extending off the right of the pic.  At the start of this year I wasn’t happy with the existing branch arrangement so I cut off all the branches and started with the bare trunk.  It’s taken a while to recover but I’m happy with the new growth and managed to get a new low branch at the bottom right and this shall be the primary branch.  It was loosely wired down, along with a branch at the back.  The first branch on the left is a sacrifice branch for thickening the trunk.  I felt the trunk was too tall and straight so I reduced it.  It’s still pretty straight with little taper along most of its length so I’m going to encourage a lot of lower branch growth over the next two seasons and keep the apex growth very short.  I’ve kept an extra branch on the left that forks because it could be used as a new leader if I’m still unhappy with the lack of taper in future.

Humble, long term projects.


Formal Upright Hornbeam


All the leaves have finally dropped on this hornbeam which was growing in a flower bed for the past three or four years.  It initially had a poor root system so I placed a tourniquet at the base of the tree at the beginning of 2013 and fed it like mad.  It was worked on while in the flower bed to promote good trunk taper.  At the start of this year I inspected the new roots that were produced and decided to lift the tree at the same time.  The thick tap root was cut back some and it was planted in this training box.20140301_154216

The tree has been untouched this year as it’s been recovering from losing a significant bit of its original root mass.  I decided it was now time to tidy up a few old pruning wounds from last year.


The base of the tree has flared out a little and by allowing unlimited root run over the next few years, hopefully this will increase.  Fungi has made an appearance in the box but I assume this isn’t harmful? Please correct me if I’m wrong! I scratched away at the top layer of grit to inspect the nebari but found the growing medium thick with fungi – I hope it’s the beneficial stuff.

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I love the formal, gradual, taper of this tree but I’m starting to think that it’s too tall and that if the top was air layered, it would make a great wee shohin tree. The remainder of the tree would look more mature too but still needs thickening. So I have the possibility of two promising trees from this piece of material.   I haven’t decided yet.

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It’ll be protected this winter and then next year allow more free growth.  Health permitting, it could be ready for work again next autumn.








Cedar Initial Styling

The time finally came around last weekend that I was able to give my Cedar an initial styling so I headed to Bonsai Eejit’s garage for some valuable guidance during the process.  Secondary branches were thinned out to aid wiring of the whole tree and every branch (almost!) was wired.  This was my first time wiring an entire tree and it was a bit laborious at first but towards the end I was getting the hang of it (although a lot of practice is needed!). Again, I have very limited experience of styling raw material/trees so Eejit talked me through it and  I learned quite a few things as he carried out the job.  We finished at around 2:30am and I was pleased with the result.



I went with the shorter trunk option and quickly hacked off the taller one before doubts set in.  A long thick jin was left but I plan to refine the deadwood next year.  There were only four primary branches on the tree and they all came from the same place.  Luckily they were pretty flexible as quite a bit of bending was necessary to move them into place.

AFTER (The next day!)

AFTER (The next day!)

Its a skeleton image with a lot of foliage development needed over the next number of years but I’ve got a firm direction to go in now that the trunk and primary branches are set.  More pics from different angles:


The left hand side of the tree


The back of the tree


The right hand side of the tree