Tag Archives: Bonsai projects

#2 Trident Maple Project (con’t)

#2 Trident Maple Project (cont)

Trident Maple Project #2 (July 2012)

As promised, here is an update of my other Trident Maple project.  The last post I wrote about this tree was in June of 2012.  Please click here if you would like to see what I did back then.  I’ve worked on this tree twice during the Summer in July and August, but due to the busy schedule I hadn’t gotten a chance to write about it.  Instead of writing two post about this tree, I will put the two Summer visits into this one post.  Now that it’s Fall and the leaves are starting to change on the deciduous trees here, we will be working on this tree one last time to wrap up the year.  That post should be out in December.  But enough about the future, lets take a look into the past and see what I did first in July, then in August!

Beginning of June 2012

Just to re-cap, this is what the tree looked like after we defoliated/wire and cut it in June 2012.

Mid July 2012

Here is the tree about a month and a half later after we defoliated it.  As you can see, many of the branches pushed new growth. Note how there are long shoots and short shoots?  Why is that?  Unbalance?  The reason is, that shoots that were cut back last June, divided and produced two shorter shoots whereas branches that were not cut back, produced a single long shoot.  An example of an un-cut branch would be the main branches that were allowed to run.

Here’s a shot of the main branch. Within a months time, the wire is already biting in.  Note how the wire isn’t biting into the adjacent branch? Since the tree decided to make the thicker branch the leader, it will take more food and slow down some of the adjacent branches.  I’m not too worried about the scar on the branch because I want this branch much thicker in the future and the scars will disappear by then.

Here’s the branch after removing the wires.  Within a few weeks the grooves will heal and callus.

On to some of the branches. Here’s a long shoot that grew since the last cut.  Time to cut it back!

I basically cut the branch back to one internode (Remember that I’m trying to develop more branch division at this point as oppose to developing branch thickness).

Here’s a good example of two new branches growing since I cut the branch back in June.

Again I cut both branches back to two internodes to get more division.

Another example of a branch that was cut back last time and two new branches forming.

I cut back both branches to one internode.  Now we’re starting to see the results of our work.  Look further back in the branch and see how one branch divided into two, then those two branches dividing into four! Easy huh?!

Here’s an example of how a branch was cut back and only one of the buds produced a branch.  This can sometimes happen if the bud was disturbed or too stressed.  I could have accidentally bumped and stressed the bud when I applied the wire.  Sometimes a heavy hand is the reason why sections of a tree  isn’t growing well.  We must be more careful next time!

I cut the growing branch back and hopefully the slow bud further back will start to push.

Here’s a new branch that has grown from the inside of the tree.  This branch is perfect because there is a big hole in this area of the tree that needs filling.

I wired the new branch and put some curves into it.  I placed the end of the branch in the middle of the open area so that branches can grow on both sides eventually filling the entire area.  If I put the end of the branch too close to the branch on the right, half of the branch would end up being shaded and only the opposite side buds will grow new branches.  That can make filling this hole take much longer.  Also, structurally speaking, it would look a bit strange with branches only growing on one side.

Here is the tree after its second defoliation, cut back and some wiring.  I placed light fertilizer on the soil and put it out under shade cloth because we’re moving into the middle of Summer.  If I don’t put the tree under shade cloth, young branches may burn and even the trunk may burn and create dead areas.  That’s something we definitely don’t want.  If for some reason, you have a trident that has the trunk exposed to the sun, one thing you can do is place  a wet white piece of cloth on the trunk to reflect back some of the sunlight.  That will keep the exposed trunk cool and prevent it from being burned.  New leaves came out quickly and the tree was full again within 3 weeks.

End of August 2012

For most of the Summer, I watered the tree 2-3 times a day.  It was not often that the soil was completely dry and was always a bit damp when I watered.  Deciduous trees for the most part can handle wet conditions.  It seems that they rather enjoy having their soil wet all the time.  Just a re-cap, the soil mix I used for this tree is 80% akadama, 10% pumice and 10% coarse river sand.

Here is the tree at the end of August!  Looks like the tree exploded!  It grew really strong and as you can see, lots of leaves and lots of new runners.  By this time, the leaves have hardened off which means it’s time for the third and final defoliation/cut back of the Summer.

Here is the tree after I cut off all the leaves.  That was easy!

Before I got to work on the new shoots, there’s a branch that has always bothered me from the start, but I never addressed it.  I guess I was hoping it would turn out better as the development continued but instead has become much of an eye sore.  Note the downward curve of that thick branch?  That curve seems a bit strange because it’s so strong but then levels off quickly.  It’s the only branch that does that so it really catches people’s attention.  Lets remedy that!

Here’s a further look at the tree with that strange branch.

Here’s the tree with that branch removed.  That’s much better!  Now it’s only a matter of filling that hole with a better branch.

I went through the tree and did the same cut back I did in the previous months.  Here are some example of the trees developing more small branches.  At this point, the branches are too small and short to wire.  In the future when the small branches continue to develop and lengthen we can wire them out and position them.  So for the moment, all the new branches a bit messy but the focus right now is just getting branches to divide.

Here’s the new branch that I wired last time.  I removed the wire and the branch is holding its curve.  I then cut the branch back to promote the back buds to grow new branches.  Lets get this area filled!

This time around, I defoliated/cut back and removed the wire from the tree.  Again, I put some light fertilizer on the tree and set it back under the shade cloth.  Once Fall arrived, I placed the tree in full Sun.  The work on this tree is just about done for the year.  The last thing I will be doing is removing the leaves once the tree start changing colors.  I’ll give you all an update once I do that in December.

Wire Removal

So why do you think I removed all the wire now?  Was it because it’s biting into the branch?  Some were but most were still okay but I removed the wire anyways.  There are two reasons:

1. If we remove the wire and accidentally break or crack a branch, it is still warm enough for the tree to heal and recover.  If we removed the wire during the Winter and accidentally break or crack a branch, the tree will have a hard time to heal and could bleed out sap for a period of time.  If that happens, the tree can become very weak during the  Winter.

2. If we keep the wire on and Spring arrives, the tree will aggressively grow and could cause many of the wires to bite in very badly.  If we were to remove the wire before Spring, we can potentially break branches and cause bleeding issues, or stress the branches from de-wiring the tree and end up slowing the Spring growth down (though that could be a good thing, it’s never really an even stress of the whole tree).

A Look Back of the Summer of 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

Looking at all three pictures, it’s hard to tell that there has been much change in the tree.  Especially with all the long shoots and leaves that were grown and removed throughout the Summer.  Mr. Tanaka says that ramifying a Maple is a long-term project and that the results are always slow at first.  After 3-5 years though, we will start to really notice the results of our Summer work.  It makes sense because the branches are multiplying every time we cut it so next years branch yields should be much higher every year. 1-2-4-8-16 etc!

That long-term development is something that many people have a hard time understanding.  Most of use wants to see instant results now so it’s hard for us picture how a deciduous tree can become so ramified.  Either we quit and say the technique is not working or we start working with trees that can give us more instant satisfaction such as Junipers and other types of conifers (except pines ;)).  We have to keep working at it and continue to develop the tree because the end results are very much worth the effort.

My vision for this tree is to continue its branch development and make the tree several inches taller and several inches wider on both sides.  Hopefully if all goes well, those several inches will be filled with many small branches.

Here’s an example of a Trident Maple that has been grow and developed at Aichien.  This tree is about 50 years old.  The main branches took several years to develop and the densely ramified branches took over 10 years to develop.

Bonsai Time

10 years may seem like a long time, but think of it this way.  We get to have fun working on this tree for 10 years!  Isn’t that why we started practicing bonsai in the first place?  Isn’t developing the tree the fun part?  10 years isn’t that bad when you’re having fun and you know what they say about time moving faster when we’re having fun ;).  At the end when the tree is finally developed to the point that it’s just maintenance work to keep the shape, it can get pretty boring ;).  So go out to your back yard and have some fun developing your Bonsai!

Thanks for reading and please read the comment area below because there’s always good questions and a few extra tips!



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