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”.

Chinese Elm Over Rock

The Chinese Elms have been getting some burnt leaves over the summer. I’m guessing it could be that the soil is too fine, and isn’t providing sufficient aeration to the roots, and the trees weren’t getting enough moisture from the roots. Since Chinese Elms can be treated like tropical trees, I’ve decided to repot them to help with the roots development.

Chinese Elm Ready for Repot

I have a rock lying around for years, I couldn’t find a good tree to put on it, so I’ve decided to put this tree over the rock, to see how well it wraps around the rock. One thing I don’t like about Chinese Elms is that they tend to have one or two thick roots rather than developing a radial nebari around the base of the tree. Even though these are all started from cuttings, they still have one or two fat root(s). Luckily, the orientation of the roots aligns properly to the crevices of the rock. I wrapped the roots around the rock, and then tie the roots in place. The hope is that eventually the roots will develop around the roots and tightly wrap the rock. The larger grain soil and the colander as the pot will help the roots develop much faster than before. Over the next few years, I’ll gradually reduce soil level, forcing the roots to harden as it gets exposed to the sun.

Chinese Elm Over Rock

Wiring Shimpaku Juniper

Earlier this year, I’ve decided to air layer the Shimpaku Juniper. I didn’t do much to the tree other than repotting it into a bigger pot. The Shimpaku has since put out a lot of roots, so I’m pretty sure the tree up top will survive. I’ve decided to work on the bottom tree a bit, such that it’s not too unsightly. Although the branches still maintained some of the form I put in a few years back, it needs some refinement.

Shimpaku Before Wiring

I wired the branches and moved the them into place. The goal is to form foliage pads that allow the viewers eyes to follow the trees movement to the apex.

Shimpaku After Wiring

I’m pretty satisfy with this arrangement. ┬áThe composition has both bones (branches) and meat (foliage pads). Shimpakus branches don’t thicken very fast, so I can leave the wires on the tree for quite a while, probably revisit it again next Spring.

Leafing Out Already!

I was a bit worry that the berry tree I defoliated two weeks ago wouldn’t put out another set of leaves, since I just repotted it this year. But it’s already leafing out! I look forward to getting another round of ramification this year. I’m also hoping the new sets of leaves will be much smaller than before. I’m keeping the tree in full sun, such that it the leaves can be kept as small as possible. Now that the leaves are out, I’ll hold out on the fertilizer, again, to help with a smaller leave size.

Berry Tree Leafing Out