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.

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Hawthorn Initial Styling

The Hawthorn looks very messy, with branches going ever which way. After staring at it for a week or so, I’ve decided to style it and get rid of the excess branches. Originally, I was thinking to air-layer the excess branches and create more trees, but after giving it some thought, I really don’t need the extra trees to divide my attention.

So, out come the pull saw and the reciprocating saw, and off with the branches!

I like this composition, as it hides most of the ugly cuts on the back, and provides a very interesting trunk movement. There are some buds forming on the left side, which will develop into a main branch in the future. For the time being, plenty of sun to help those buds develop and grow.

Hawthorn Moves Into a Pot

This Hawthorn was collected last spring, and has been in the ground to aid its recovery. The buds on the Hawthorn have began to swell, therefore, it’s a good time to dig it out of the ground, and pot it into a pot (colander). Also, the pesky rabbit have been coming around every day and nibble off a few branches. Repotting it and moving it into a safer location seems like a good idea. When I dug the tree out, there are a few roots which developed further, but the roots are no where close to how my colander potted trees develop their roots.

I had to further cut down the thick roots in order for the tree to fit into colander. The reciprocating saw made quick work of that. Cutting the thick roots wasn’t much of an issue, because a majority of them didn’t have any fine roots hanging from them anyways. I was hoping to have more roots, but hopefully after going into the colander, roots will quickly develop. In the meanwhile, I’ll try not to disturb the roots as much as possible, in hopes of a quick recovery from the potting shock. Here’s what the tree looks like bare rooted.

The tree is now potted. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up cutting off a lot of excess branches. But in the meanwhile, I’ll let it grow and develop more roots. I might end up trying out some air-layering of the thicker branches come spring.

Collected Trees Recovery

The trees collected in April are now sitting in my front lawn, recovering from the lost of leaves and roots. The apple trees started putting out new buds in May. On the other hand, the Hawthorne has been slow in putting out buds. In mid to late June, the Hawthorne finally put out some buds. There were some low buds that got attacked by the rabbit, but sufficient buds remain for the tree to be healthy. I’m pretty confident these trees will continue to survive until next Spring. At which time, I will be digging them up, and putting them into a colander to further develop as bonsai next year. In particular, I have great hopes for the windswept apple tree. The Hawthorne will be interesting for me from a personal learning perspective, as this is my first Hawthorne tree. I’m still having a tough time figuring out the front for the Hawthorne, but I’m hoping it’ll come to me after I get it into a pot (colander).

Here’s the windswept apple. Looking to plant it with the left side lower (imagine photo rotate counter clockwise).Windswept Apple

The multi-trunk apple. I think I might end up cutting off some of the trunks, as it might look more like a clump style. Will decide later on to see where the actual tree is…

Multi-trunk Apple

The dual trunk Hawthorne. This might end up to be the side, I’m struggling to see where’s the front, but it’ll come to me next year.

Hawthorne