Further Reduction of Mini Jade

It felt like the last time I pruned this mini jade was not so long ago, yet, it’s been growing prolifically again. I decided to prune it further to give it enough time to do more ramification until the cold weather comes. This time I didn’t even bother growing the cuttings… I think I’m at a point where I’m sick of tending to all these tiny saplings. Now my new strategy is to aim to acquire thicker and larger trees, while on the other hand, reduce my small saplings, to make room for those bigger trees.

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New Trees From TBS Show

As always, after helping to setup, club members get first digs at the sales area. This show, I picked up a pot and two trees. One of the tree is a Korean Hornbeam. I’ve always wanted a Korean Hornbeam in my collection, but it always seems I’m the only one one in the club without one. But that’s not the case anymore! I now have a Korean Hornbeam to call my own. Kevin Yates also sold me on his twisted pomegranate, the name sounds interesting, and the tree has small leaves, so I decided to pick it up as well. The plan is to let these tree grow wild in my colanders and fatten up. The soil that Kevin had them in were too moisture retaining for my watering habits, so I proceeded to repot them both into my bonsai soil mix and colander. The one on the left is the Korean Hornbeam, while the one on the right is the twisted pomegranate.

Mini Jade Reduction

The mini jade has been growing all four seasons, so has really put on some growth. It’s time to reduce the raft back into a more pleasing composition. Since they all share the same root, reducing the raft significantly shouldn’t have any detrimental effects. I’ve proceeded to heavily reduce the trees. I was quite surprised of the amount of foliage I took off. But no guts, no glory!

Chinese Elms Grouping

These Chinese elm cuttings have all been sitting in a pot with very degraded bonsai soil. This is the last of my trees with very crappy bonsai soil, I can’t wait to get rid of these. I repoted these Chinese elms, three per grouping, which will in the future, develop into two triple trunk trees.

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Spring Coming Slowly, But the Work Must Go On

This year Spring has been dragging its feet. May is just around the corner, yet the temperature is still hanging around 2 degrees Celsius. As long as it doesn’t drop to freezing, the trees are all going onto the bench. I’ve moved all my trees from my porch to the backyard bench.

Some of the buds on the trees are swelling up and ready to pop. So, it’s also the perfect time for repotting and pruning.

Over the weekend, the TBS was having a weekend workshop. I took advantage of it, and did some work on my trees. Namely, I worked on this cherry. This cherry tree really have nothing much going for it, so I decided to experiment with bending and air-layering. When I brought the tree in, many people were doubting that the branches can be bent, but with some raffia, heavy wire, and some muscle, the tree is bent into shape. I also air-layered the trunk to separate it into another tree. Originally I was just going to trunk chop it, but why forgo an excellent chance to experiment?

Cherry Tree Wired and Air-Layered

I also brought along this huge apple tree to work on. I was looking at the tree in the morning, and decided to select a new front. So, out came the saw and chopped it to shape. When I brought it in, a senior member commented that the old front was better. But I know my trees best. 🙂

Apple Pruned and Wired

After I was done pulling up the new leader, and wiring the companion tree, it was obvious that this is the better front for the tree. I guess from his perspective, he was looking for “instant bonsai”. But I know well that I would rather spend the time to develop a better front, than to settle for a faster sub-optimal result.

I also repotted a few trees, since they were sitting in some pretty crappy medium that decomposed to dust. From left to right, they are the apple tree, larch, and cotoneaster. I had to prune the roots of the apple dramatically, since it was growing in a large colander and had plenty of roots. The larch went back into it’s own pot with new soil. The cotoneaster had the base of the root ball reduced dramatically. It had a few large roots that I took a saw to and reduced its height. In due time, the reduced height of the root ball would make it easier for the tree to fit into a pot.

I also decided on the front for my Hawthorne, I had to cut off the back side of the trunk as it was distracting the view. The cut was made behind the leader. As I cut more of these heavy trees, I’m getting better at finding the best angle to cut such that the scar is not visible, and creates a taper.

Of course, nothing goes to waste, the part that was removed from the plant is also potted up with some rooting hormone. The hope is that it’ll also develop into a new Hawthorne. The huge cutting is now sitting in a colander under the bench.

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.

Brace

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.