Hawthorn Spring Cleaning

The hawthorn was repotted in March, and allowed to grow freely until early May.

Based on no scientific study, only observation, fungicides seem to inhibit the explosive growth these trees can be known for. Foliage growth anyway, nothing seems to thicken up the trunks and branches.

But as a result of withholding fungicides, growth was good…both foliage and fungal. Before starting any work:

And a few shots of some of the fungal activity:

Note the swelling at the base of the shoot? Not only does this cedar-Apple fungus form at the base of the shoots…
The fungus also forms on the tips of spurs…instead of flowers…
Closer shot of the fungal spores developing on the leaves. Black spurs develop on the top and bottom of the yellow spots eventually.
Also found a few happy families of aphids.

After pruning it back, here is the final result, with a light and dark background…and finally, a dark night shot.

From that distance, you kind of forget the fungal issues. But the next step was to remove all the galls and as many infected leaves as I could, and then douse the whole thing with Mancozeb. And then I’ll watch for effectiveness, and any impact on growth.

Losing trees, Japanese Maple

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:

After removing leaves

Some issues included dieback of secondary branches, followed by coarse new growth, which was wired in the summer:

First left branch, showing lots of new growth. Most on the topside which is unusable, and most too young to wire this year:

Strong budding from the trunk at the apex, leaving lots of coarse new growth to work with.

So here is the work to do

1. Replace heavy branches with finer branches where possible.

This branch:



Another coarse branch, midway up on the right side:

Removing the 2 upward-facing buds in favor of side buds:

Then wire:

Another example on the right side:

The two branches:

One more example:

A good example of a branch pruned back evenly and wired:

2. Reduce multiple buds to pairs:

This way:

Midway through the work:

The apex is next.

Starting by removing heavy shoots:

And the one above it:

And after the work, the apex is pretty rough, but should be possible to remake in a couple years.

Dark shot for contrast:

Clean up the moss to ensure good drainage:

Repotted in March:

Bud-pinched through the early growing season:

And the tree is off to a good spring:

I’ll keep a close eye on the wires to avoid scarring, and in a few weeks, partially defoliate the tree; removing one of each pair of leaves in the strong areas to allow light to reach the interior of the tree to help facilitate back-budding.

Losing trees: The Ben Oki Azalea

I have read that Kurume azalea are good for 20-30 years as bonsai, and this one has been containerized now for 20. Unfortunately, I’ve known it wasn’t long for the road for the last few years. I’m glad to have enjoyed it in a bonsai pot since I styled it with Ben Oki over 15 years ago. But the trunks have large dead spots in the back, and have gradually rotted away until some right-side branches critical to the current design have died. So this is the last time to enjoy the show of this twin-trunked azalea. I am satisfied that I have done well by the design set by Mr. Oki all those years ago in an Iowa machine shop, but bonsai is a 4-dimension art, with that 4th dimension being time, which takes its toll on everything.

So here is the show, as of 4/15:

Here are areas of dieback on the right side:

And even more pronounced from this angle:

Here is a shot from below, showing the relative health of the left side.

Here is a shot from the back showing the rotting trunks.

If I simply reduce the dead spots on the right, I’m delaying the inevitable. I have often wondered if the left side was strong enough to be interesting on its own. Especially because the right side has a couple very straight sections with really no taper.

Here are a couple views of a potential new front.

While the dead and dying branches needed to go, I went slowly with the hope of finding a stopping point which would preserve as much of the tree as I could.

Top first:

A little further…

I considered working with what remained above, but the right trunk’s flaws were on full display, so…

Leaving us with this potential front:

Next order of business is to remove the flowers. I like the idea of retaining the leftward-movement.

Now, a good first round of pruning.

And some wiring is started

Continuing, photo-check, edited to show some adjustments needed:

Adjustments made…

Pretty sure it hasn’t been repotted in 4 years, and the roots were a matted mess, which required an hour of combing and hosing to reduce. Then, I made some wedge-shaped cuts to work new soil into, and provide space for new roots to grow.

Soil is Kanuma and lava, 2:1.

Pot by Byron Myrick. It has the right feel, but is slightly too shallow to get the perfect angle. Next time…

The planting angle I wanted was tricky because the root ball was so dense, so I settled for a compromise. Next repotting, I’ll try to get it tilted up just a bit more like this: