Japanese Quince Bundle Graft

Year after year, I end up with more and more Japanese Quince cuttings that turned out to be seedlings. Originally I was thinking to start a forest planting, but these Quinces have leaves that are too big to look good in a forest planting. Waiting for them to thicken up is not really an alternative either, as I can have much better use of the bench space that these trees take up. I decided to tie them all together to make one big tree. All together I have 9 tree seedlings. You can see that the trees growing in the colanders (left of the picture) have a much finer root system than the one in the pot (right of the picture).

Just wrapping the trees together wouldn’t produce too big of a trunk, since these are all very thin trees. I’ve built a metal brace for them to wrap around.


If I were to do this again, I would wait for even more trees before doing the wrapping, so that I can wrap a bigger brace. I used some raffia to wrap the trees around the brace. I positioned all the roots to radiate out from the center of the trunk, to ensure they’ll eventually form a good nebari. I then proceeded to plant the tree into big colander with a very fine soil mix. Japanese Quinces grow very vigorously, by next year, this colander will be filled with roots.


Spring Pruning

The ground has warmed up enough for the trees to come out of the ground. The weather in the coming weeks are hovering above freezing, so it seems like a good idea to get them out of the ground and start working on some of them.

For the Japanese Maple, I left two sacrifice branches, and ensure all the nodes don’t have more than two branches coming out of them. This ensures that I won’t end up with reverse taper at those nodes.Japanese Maple After Pruning

These two larches also required some pruning, I left the top parts of these two trees intact until I see the buds swelling. I’ve killed more than my fair share of larches over the years, I don’t want this to be one of them.

Larch after Pruning

This literati larch have come a long way since I got it several years ago. I still remember the club president saying at the time that this is difficult to make into anything useful. Well, I’ve tried over the years, and I’m quite happy with the result. Last year I killed off the top, and this spring I stripped it to reveal the shari. I then further carve the deadwood, and also wired the branches in place. I can’t wait to see this tree leave out. I may contemplate repotting the tree to be slightly leaning to the right at around 7 to 10 degrees.

Then there’s the cotoneaster. I don’t really know what to make of this one. It certainly have a thick base, but not much going for it otherwise. I’ve pruned back a lot of the shoots that grew last year, let’s see what this tree brings this year.

Thread Grafting Honeysuckle

This honeysuckle always seems to sprout at the bottom, and at the top, but no where in between. It’s been a few years now, and I’ve given up waiting for it to back-bud at the right places. Last year, I positioned a branch to be thread grafted this spring.

These branches becomes awfully stiff, awfully fast, so I started bending them in position when they were first extending, else they would easily snap if I were to bend them now. I proceeded to drill a hole through the middle of the tree. I took care to drill the hole big enough so that the buds on the branch can be threaded through the hole without being knocked off. I further wrapped the buds with saran wrap such that the buds can slip through the hole.

I then applied cutting paste at both ends of the hole. The hope is that the branch would thicken up, and then merge with the cambium layer at both ends of the hole. The only thing left to do is to feed and water the tree to thicken it up.

Spring Is In The Air

This week has been an amazingly warm week, causing the Japanese Quince to start popping leaves. Out of all my trees, I’ve found that my Japanese Quinces are always the first to pop, even earlier than my Trident Maples. This year, I continue to work on this mother tree. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of cuttings of this tree, and they’re all growing very vigorously. Last year, I’ve plotted this tree into a shallow pot, to develop a thin layer of fine root system to support the tree. The tree took on the challenge and put out a lot of feeder roots in the heavily constrained pot. This time, I’ve found a better front of the tree, so I raked out the roots, and repotted it into the same pot with some fresh soil. The soil is also much finer grain than the last one I used. After repotting, I did some heavy pruning to each branch, basically leaving two buds, and removing the rest of the branches. This would allow each branch to ramify into finer and finer subdivisions. The only exception is the “top” tree which I want to allow to grow to thicken it up. I’m quite happy with the composition, the “top” tree can use some more back branching to make it less two dimensional. But since Japanese Quinces easily bud back, I’ll worry about branch placement after the trunk thickens up significantly. I’ve added a few Totoro figures to help lighten up the mood a bit for this photo shoot.

Japanese Quince Repotted, Pruned, and Wired

Dead of Winter. Repot a Jade.

There really isn’t much bonsai related activities here in Toronto, as all the trees are either in the ground, or in the porch overwintering. I can’t even remember how long this Jade has been growing in the pot, or when it was last repotted, but the soil seems quite old, so I decided to repot it.

Jade before repot

There’s a sacrifice branch that I’ve been growing for some time now, to thicken up the base of the tree. The sacrifice branch is however growing into the branches that I want to keep, so I decided to remove the sacrifice branch. I was surprised to find not much roots, perhaps I was keeping the soil too wet, and the roots were rotting away. I would need to keep these trees dryer going forward. After some pruning, the mother-and-child composition is much more obvious.

Jade after repot

Shimpaku Air-Layer Separation

The Shimpaku air-layers I’ve prepared early Spring are developing very well, with roots filling in the sphagnum moss, and even crawling out of the plastic wrap. Now that fall is here, the roots are not developed much. I wanted to separate the air-layers, and provide them an opportunity to get accustomed to their new pots before winter hits. From one of the trees, I’ve been able to get two air-layers from it. I was very pleased that these two growths have put out a lot foliage over the growing season.

Shimpaku with Air-LayersAs you can see below, the roots have filled the whole sphagnum moss ball.

Roots on Air-LayerAfter removing the two air-layers, I can concentrate on developing the tree, and not worry about the two air-layers getting in the way.

Shimpaku Air-Layers RemovedThe two air-layers have a lot of foliage on it, but they also have a lot of roots. I wouldn’t worry about them getting dried up. I ensured that I caused the least amount of disturbance to the roots as possible. I did not remove any of the sphagnum moss, and basically buried the air-layer into the pot (sphagnum moss intact), and surround it by a little bit of soil to secure it in the pot. Come next June, I’ll repot the these into colanders, removing the sphagnum moss, layout the roots, and use some real bonsai potting medium. When repotting, I’ll make sure to pot it into more granular soil, such that the roots don’t stay too wet.

The next air-layer I separated is from another Shimpaku I had. The upper portion makes a mame, while the lower part makes a good literati. With the separation, I’ll end up with two better trees, rather than one awkward tree.

There are substantially less roots in this air-layer, but I think there should still be sufficient roots for it to survive. I’ll find out come next Spring. For now, I’ll let the air-layers grow, while I work on the parent trees.

Fine Tuning the Shimpaku

I’ve been looking at the Shimpaku and it’s becoming ever more obvious that the upper half of the tree is very disjoint from the bottom half of the tree. In hopes to bring in some unity between the branches of the tree, I opted to lower some of the branches from the upper parts, such that the observer won’t be experiencing a break in their flow as their eyes move upwards from the base of the tree. For the thicker branch, I did the usual raffia wrapping before proceeding to bend it down. I also wired the back branches such that the pads are tighter. I’m now much happier with the tree and where it’s heading. It’s now a matter of letting the foliage fill in. The left picture is the “before”, and the right picture is the “after”.