A couple weeks ago, readers saw the last year of struggle for this Japanese Maple. Fortunately, it is on the road to recovery, and it’s time to remove wires and handle some light pruning and perform a partial defoliation.
Here’s where we left off with the last post, and start the work:
Almost, anyway. The aggressive wiring, followed by exceptional freezing conditions in January 2020 resulted in a disastrous year for this Japanese Maple. Here it is in December, 2020, as most of the leaves have fallen:
Continue reading over at NEBARI BONSAI to watch the progress on this poor tree!
In the spring, with healthy Japanese maples, bud-pinching is a common technique to keep internodes short on refined trees. It is a simple procedure, and needs to be performed about daily as Japanese maples are waking up in the spring.
The earlier you can identify the 2nd node and remove it, the shorter the internode will remain. In this example, I’ve waited about a day too long, but it helps illustrate the process.
This hawthorn has grown rather slowly over the last few years, and I attribute it (right or wrong) to my increased use of fungicides. Regardless, over the last few years, I have let it mostly grow, and now it’s time to sort out what it’s done.
The tree has a tendency to throw upward- and downward-growing shoots at junctions. It makes the tree look more ramified than maybe it is, but time to clean it up.
Sometimes wrapping a branch or trunk with wire doesn’t have enough holding power, and using rebar as an anchor point for guy-wires is more effective.
This is my Kiyozuru Itoigawa, purchased from Chikugo-en in L.A…which, from all I have been able to find, is the origin of the cultivar in the US. I bought it to have the cultivar, but wasn’t enamored with the trunk. It has a nice twist at the base, but then straightens out. The yellow line is the area where things get pretty dull.
It has been container-grown and according to Gary Ishii, it was 25-30 years old when I bought it. Growing slowly in a pot means the trunk is stiff with dense wood. Therefore, wiring the straight portion isn’t really an option.
I didn’t get around to repotting this one last year, and it was the first time I skipped a year repotting it in probably 15 years, so I wasn’t looking forward to wrestling it free, and working the roots all the way back. However, it was pretty weak last year, and so the roots weren’t too crazy. Here are some shots of the process, which took about 90 minutes.
Pot cleaned and new drainage mesh applied. 3rd generation Yamaaki. I love this pot with this tree, but the clay is developing small chips around the tie down holes, and one foot. The tree may also be ready for the next size up soon. This one is 19″ wide, and a 20″ would work. But the color is fantastic with the fiery red spring foliage.
The primary branches on this tree were made by thread-grafting, and the tree itself was made from an air-layer of nursery stock I bought in 2008. So this tree is pretty artificially developed. However, to keep growth dense and movement present with trees, sometimes this is the only way to go. So long as the result is convincing, the means don’t matter.
The trouble with this tree is that the left trunk has a long span with no branches on the right side. In time, the right trunk sill fill in the lower part of the space, but the left trunk does need a branch somewhere along this span:
Ideally it will be between two left branches, creating an alternating branch pattern…somewhere around the blue circle, on the outside of a bend: