Tag Archives: ramification

The Strange Trident Maple

The Strange Trident Maple

Beautiful Fall colors and small leaves

In a previous post, I said I was going to write an article just about this tree.  Well here it is!  In this post, I’m going to tell the history of this tree, show some different angle shots of the tree with a bit of commentary of my thoughts.  It’s Christmas eve today in Japan and I thought I’d share this gem of a tree with you all.  This special Trident maple is one of my favorite trees here at Aichi-en.

History of the strange

Many followers of the blog have asked me about this specific tree because of the unique structure it has.  It’s not everyday we see a tree quite like this one so when I first saw it at Aichi-en for the first time I was all over it!

This Trident maple was started by Mr. Tanaka’s great grandfather (first generation and creator of Aichi-en) almost 100 years ago.  One of the reason why I like this tree so much is that it’s such a good representation of what Aichi-en is all about.  Time and time again when I’m wiring and styling a not so typical tree, Mr. Tanaka will always pushing me to make it more unique and interesting in some way.  Whereas most people will either cut or replace something strange, I’m encouraged to keep it.  He was taught to do this by his father and his father’s father. This tree has been developed continuously by all generations to this day and has always lived at Aichi-en.  When I first arrived here, I asked Mr. Tanaka about this tree and why was it was made this way.  The answer wasn’t simple or quick and it was filled with words such as, different, strange, unique, creative, taste and personality.  The conversation was one of the defining moments of my apprenticeship and it made me realize that many different factors come to play on how a tree is created and that there isn’t just one way to creating them.  After the conversation, Mr. Tanaka then warned me that I should never forget the basics of Bonsai and that, “there is a thin line between a strange tree that expresses good taste and just a strange tree” (the tricky part is finding that line and realizing if I have it in me to create something different then most.  Perhaps it requires a certain type of personality?  I’ll share more about my thoughts on that in a future post).  Let’s get on to the pictures!

Here is the tree with it’s leaves removed and pruned for the Winter.  The height of the tree minus the pot is 72cm (28in).  The width of the tre is 88cm (35in).  The depth of the tree is 68cm (27in).  Mr. Tanaka lightly cut back the branch tips to continue the ramification process.  Mr. Tanaka likes very ramified trees so he’s always looking for ways to improve the density of a tree.  It’s my hope that one day, Mr. Tanaka will trust me to work on this tree.  When that day comes, I’ll be sure to share my experience.

Here is a shot of the tree from it’s right side. Notice how the apex of the tree is very forward.  I have found that a more forward apex and denser branch structure is a style characteristic of the Bonsai Professionals of this area.

The back of the tree.

A shot of the tree’s left side.

A close up of the root spread.  Even the root spread of this tree is strange.  Answer me this, would a more natural radial root base go well with the rest of the tree? or vise versa?  My first impression of this root base was, “what is this?”  When I looked at the overall tree again this root spread turned out to be so right for this tree (there is an important lesson to learn here).  If you don’t believe me, look at the picture of the front of the tree again.  ;o)

A shot of the second trunk and the middle of the tree.  Would you consider this tree a twin trunk?  Serious, because I have no idea what kind style category to put this tree in.  This is also a great example of a tree that flows in the oppose direction of the second trunk.  Many would consider the second trunk as the key and direction branch.  Notice also that as the second trunk gets thicker every year, it starts fusing itself with the main trunk little by little.

A shot of the bend in the trunk that makes this tree so strange and interesting.  The trunk then splits into the main branch and the apex.

Here’s a closer shot of the ramification of the branches.  One thing I noticed about this tree is that the ramified branches are all very skinny.  Is this a natural characteristic of this tree or is it the ramification that forces the tree to divide the food among all the branches?  Perhaps both?

Another shot of the branch structure of the tree’s left side

A shot of the underside to see the structure of the tree.  It’s okay to look :op

A different angle shot of the structure of the tree.  Right now, many of you are probably asking, “how do I get my Trident maple to develop that kind of ramification?”  I’ve been learning and working on a lot of maples this season and have been taking lots of pictures.  I’ll fill you in on a future post.  I promise!  In the mean time, take some time to really examine these pictures and jot down what you see and notice about the branch structure and ramification.  The structure of the branches all fall under the, “basics,” of Bonsai.  Then share your thoughts in the comment section below.  Pictures can teach and answer a lot of our bonsai questions,  it all depends on how hard we look.

I took this picture from the Aichi-en family show book that took place back in 1995.  This was how the tree looked 16 years ago!  It’s grown some…


Here is both of them together but 16 years apart.

Moving right along

This is the first Christmas I am spending in a different country.  I can’t believe that the year is coming to an end already.  Two more months and I’ll be finished with my first year as a Bonsai apprenticeship.  I feel that I’ve already learned so much and am excited to see what the future brings.  Thanks to all of you who have been following my experiences here in Japan and supporting me through my studies here.  Through everything I’ve done here so far, I’ve always had a uplifting feeling that I have a great group of people out there rooting for me all the way.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Just in case you thought only Trident Maples can be dense…

Granted this is a special variety of Japanese maple that grows very dense… if you know how to that is… (I’ll talk more about it in the future as well)

This will probably be my last post of the year.  Happy New Years and I’ll see you all in 2012!

Thanks for keeping me company.

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