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

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

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

Brush Cherry Forest Planting

I’ve had these brush cherry cuttings for a long time. ¬†They’re growing into each other, and quickly running out of room. I figured it’s a good time to do something with them, so that they don’t just look like one big bush.

Brush Cherry

I purchased a forest planting pot from a backyard sale earlier this year, and it looks like the perfect pot for the job. Planting all these trees into the pot will be difficult using conventional means to secure the trees, since the holes are most probably never at the spots where you want to secure the trees. Rather than anchoring the trees into the holes, anchor a wire mesh to the pot, then anchor the trees to the mesh. Ultimately it might be difficult to get the mesh out of the roots once it grows in, but I’ll worry about that when faced with that problem in the future.

Pot with Mesh Base

Now I’ll sort the trees from smallest to largest. I will be creating a forest planting with two planting groups. The centre of the each group will be the largest and second largest tree respectively. The rest of the trees will be placed around the main tree of each group. After placing every tree in their rightful place, I tied each tree in place and start filling in the pot with soil.

After some more wiggling with my chopstick to get all the soil to fill each nook and cranny, the forest planting is complete. I’ll just leave it out of the sun for two weeks to help it recover from the disturbed roots.



As the healthy trees are putting out new growths, I figured it’s a good time to defoliate the trees to allow it to put through another set of growths. Which will add one more season of ramification, and hopefully produce smaller leaves. I decided to defoliate my larches first. I basically pulled out all hardened leaves, forcing the tree to put out a new set of leaves. This opens up the canopy and allows light to reach the inner parts of the tree, to produce back-budding and new growth.

I also worked on my berry bush, it’s ramifying quite nicely, squeezing in another round of ramification will make it look more impressive. I left the very small leaves intact, the larger hardened leaves are all taken out. I’m now leaving it in full sun to help its new buds pop.

Initial Styling of Apple

This apple tree was acquired from a farm April 2016, after a year in the ground, I’ve now got it in a colander. The new buds on the apple tree are very prone to aphid attacks. So I wanted to reduce the foliage a bit, and to find the actual tree in the bush.

After inspecting the tree in detail, my original plan of having it as a windswept tree won’t work well. This is due to the fact that it has a very straight trunk with no taper. I’ve decided instead to just make it a slanted tree. The trunk will display pretty amazing tapering, and I’ll end up with a big stump. A big stump is good, since I can always grow out the branches, and the branches will be of proportionate size, making it more compelling as an ancient tree.

I first marked up the cut line using chalk, then proceeded to cutting with a reciprocating saw. The saw makes quick work of the pruning, but one would have to be careful not to let the blade run astray.

After some big cuts, I applied cutting paste to the exposed cambium, then just let it sit on the branch to recover. Doing heavy pruning in mid summer is probably not a good idea… but I have a feeling the tree will handle it just fine. Come next spring, I’ll do more pruning to whip it more into shape.