This maple has been in training for about 8 years now. When it went to the US National Bonsai Exhibition last summer, I knew it was still early…maybe too early with regard to the green trunk and developing nebari. I also decided that after the show, I’d evaluate the tree and try to spend a few years really correcting a few flaws and improving the overall quality of the tree.
First, the nebari is radial, on one plane, and pretty flat. The tree has been repotted annually, and the roots get shortened to about a 6″ radius around the trunk. It responds by filling the pot each year. Still, some gaps remain, and I want a more buttressed base. Not necessarily a dinner plate, but better than it is now.
This is last year’s root pruning, just before filling in the soil:
This year I took it to Kathy Shaner’s workshop to work on. Here is a sequence of breaking down the root mass:
When we got it cleaned up, we identified the places to add roots and began to drill; with a very long drill bit, going in the direction we’d thread the seedlings through:
We ended up with 6 thread grafts. As I threaded them through, I scraped the “bark” of the scion, just barely exposing the cambium at the point where it touches the trunk. It should fuse on its own, but this will help things along. It’s important to do this early enough that the buds aren’t knocked off on the way through the holes. Then, cover the roots with wet paper towels along the way. This tree was bare-rooted for about 2.5 hours. A little nerve-wracking!
Here is a good shot showing most of the grafts, new roots are lighter in color. It will be exciting next spring to see how they did!
Some bamboo sticks helped pin and direct the new roots to where they needed to be. Then we gently wired the seedlings to get them pointed out and away from the eventual shade of the canopy. They need to grow quick and strong!
One more clean trimming around the edges of the root pad, and then we secured it into the pot, a little deeper to make room to cover the new grafts with a layer of soil:
Next week, more refinement above-ground!