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.

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Acquired My First Cedar

During this month’s TBS meeting, there was a silent auction for the trees owned by a member who wishes to get out of the hobby. All the other trees looked pretty wimpy to me, and I ended up bidding for a cedar. The cedar had some interesting shari, but the branch arrangements was very 2-dimensional. There were no front or back branches at all, all the branches were extending left and right. The tree’s starting bid was $45, and gradually got bid up to $75 by several new members… At the end, I got the tree, because I saw the bonsai in the tree.

Cedar From Auction

I didn’t care much about a formal upright tree. I also didn’t like how the shari was covering the live vain. So, I decided to pick another side as the front.

Cedar with Interesting Deadwood - New Front

This side showed more taper, and exposes the live vain for the eye to follow up the tree. I still wasn’t too interested in a trunk that goes straight up. I began digging around the base of the tree to look at the roots, and found that due to negligence, the base of the deadwood has rotted away.

Obviously I can’t have deadwood that just protrudes out of no where, so my only option was to hide the rotted base. I contemplated using a rock, but the evidence of human intervention would be too great. I ultimately decided to slant the tree to hide the rotting base. To do so, I had to take the tree out of the pot, and repot it into a colander.

I started with taking the tree out of the pot. I was surprised to find that the tree was very pot bound — another sign of negligence by the previous owner. After some persuading and prying, I finally got the tree out, and started to rake/comb out the roots. After working through the badly decomposed soil, I found myself with little to no roots at the base of the tree, but with long running roots all around the root ball. I never saw a tree with such long roots before, it’ll be quite a task trying to reduce the root ball back towards the base over the next few years. Since it’s already quite late in the season, I decided to not do anything more to the roots to reduce the amount of shock to the tree.

I simply curled up the roots, and planted the tree into the colander, properly securing with wire. I ensured I planted it in an angle such that it’ll hide the rotting deadwood at the base.

The movement already looks much more interesting with a spire that juts out to the left. I then proceeded to work with the branches I intend to keep. The branches were very straight, with no interesting movement, so I got my raffia ready, and started to do some extensive bending. The lower most branch was already very brittle, and any bending of it would result in a broken branch. Therefore, I decided to let it be for now, and then make it into a jin in a year or two.

The second branch can be persuading to come down along the trunk, and to counter-balance the movement to the left. The third branch can be reduced and provide some greenery to the left, but I got to ensure it doesn’t become too overpowering, because there is already substantial movement to the left. The forth branch will be my new leader, and I will be building an apex off the branches (eventually). Everything else above the forth branch will be turned into a jin once the tree is healthy enough.

Cedar with Main Branches Rearranged

In order to allow more light to reach the inner buds, and eventually promote inner growths, I proceeded to reduce the foliage by pinching/cutting. I also put on some lime sulfur to the deadwood to help with preserve the wood. I’ve done a lot to this tree, now it’s just to give it lots of light, and let it recover from the abuse. Hopefully all the branches will survive and I can start cutting back the unwanted growths next growing season. I’ve also read that it’s best to prune in August, so that the tree doesn’t lose the foliage you want to keep. I’ll observe the health of the tree before deciding whether I want to prune back this August, it might be a bit premature.

Cedar with Small Branches Rearranged

 

Japanese Maple Gets Partial Defoliation

This Japanese Maple quickly leaved out after I pruned it early Spring, it’s now very full, and no light was going into the inner areas of the tree. Although I trimmed off the second node of growth the minute it came out, the internodes on the tree is still very inconsistent. Some were very long, yet others remained short.

Japanese Maple all Leaved Out

I decided to remove one of the two leaves at each node, to allow for more light to reach the inner areas of the tree, in turn, promoting new buds to form. It’s now much more airy than before, in a few weeks, I’ll be seeing more buds forming close to the trunk. Hopefully those new growths will have short internodes, and I can do away with some of the longer branches.

Japanese Maple After Partial Defoliation

A Proper Spot For The Trees

As I accumulate trees over the past few years, they’ve been just growing off my stone patio. I’ve always had the false assumption that the kids would enjoy playing on the grass rather than on the stone patio. Turns out they like to play the on patio more than the grass. The logical next step would be to move the trees away from the stone patio, and take some room from the grass. Since my backyard is a bit slanted towards to the back of the backyard, I had to level the bench by either adjusting the number of cinder blocks, or digging into the ground. Eventually, I was able to create a bench that’s perfectly leveled. This two step bench is where I’ll be putting my trees on. My goal is to not acquire any new trees unless I’ve sold/give away/thrown out trees to make room for new trees.

Bonsai Bench

Collected Deciduous Tree Into Bonsai Pot

This deciduous tree was collected a few years ago, and kept in a colander to promote root development — and develop it did. The colander was filled with roots.

There were a lot of fibrous roots, so I had a lot of roots to work with (cut out) in order to fit the tree into the new bonsai pot. After some extensive root pruning, I was able to fit the tree into the pot. In retrospect, I should’ve done it before it leaved out, but I was busy with other tasks, so this would have to do.

The tree was somewhat compromised due to the late repotting, and some aphids decided to move in. I had to kill them all off by picking them out with tweezers and squishing them. At the end, I think I got them all. I’m now constantly checking the tree to ensure they don’t come back.

Potting Up Shimpaku Cutting

I created this cutting last year, and before the beginning of winter, I separated it from the parent plant, and planted it with sphagnum moss intact, into a pot. I didn’t know how much roots have developed, all I could see was some roots on the outside parameter. Since the Shimpaku has started to put out growth, I’ve decided to pot it up into a colander.

I first took it out of the terracotta pot, removed all the sphagnum moss and combed out the roots, such that they radiate from the trunk. Over time, this would ensure a good nebari.

After lining up all the roots radially from the trunk, I secured the tree in place with a wire, and then filled in with bonsai soil. This tree will be growing in this colander for a long time until it’ll need another repot.

Downsizing

There are a few small trees which IĀ over-potted in hopes of them growing more vigorously. But a small tree in a big colander often left the medium too wet, and as a result, the tree suffers. Today, I repotted two trees into a smaller colander. My hope is that the reduced amount of soil would allow the medium to dry more quickly, and as a result, promote the tree to put out more roots.

I first started with the Japanese Maple. I originally potted the tree very low in the colander, forcing the roots to go radially rather than downwards. This plan worked well, as the tree has a very radial and flat nebari. I simply trimmed some roots off the rim, painstakingly rearranged the roots so that there are no overlaps, and then potted it into a smaller colander.

The second tree is the Boxwood. Boxwood are very slow growing trees, especially so when grown inside a pot. For the past two years, the tree remains largely the same size. Some nice roots have developed. Similar to the Japanese Maple above, I arranged the roots nicely, before potting it into its new (much smaller) colander.