More from the Chishio workshop

A few other areas to address on this maple include:
1. Smoothing out some of the callus tissue.
2. Softening the heavy upper left branch.
3. Making the color of the tree homogenous, as the current colors are distracting.

Ready? Lets get started.

Kathy is detail-oriented, tidy, and very precise. We used the trowel end of a pair of tweezers to smooth out rough spots, and to rough up calluses to keep them rolling. She taught us this a couple years ago, but somehow I forget to remember to do it…maybe not anymore. Here is an example on a trident maple, before and after:


And a close-up:


The upper left branch is really a second trunk and a second apex. I have been negotiating with this tree over this branch for nearly a decade. It is very strong, and I’ve been considering removing it for a while. It has a pretty large pruning scar, which is distracting.


Over the years, other branches have grown that could be wired into position to eventually replace the whole thing, all the way down to where it meets the first branch on the left…at the red line:


It bothers me more than it bothered Kathy. She wanted to start by removing the heavy shoot highlighted in yellow, then we identified branches we could use to eventually occupy the space. I was pleased that she grabbed the same two branches to use that I had decided on last year, traced in green:


Instead of removing it completely, we reduced it a bit. I wired a couple branches to start moving them into the space. The larger one was wrapped with 5 mm aluminum, to which I attached a copper guy-wire that I can tighten it a little at a time, by pulling and twisting the pigtail on the left side. this will bring it into position over a few months’ time.


In a couple years, the branch can be removed without any change to the silhouette.




Lastly, part of the trunk is barking up. Other parts are still green, and newer shoots are burgundy in color. It’s distracting, and does not convey the illusion of quiet age. To address this, Kathy said to paint every shoot, branch, and the trunk with a 1:1 lime sulfur and water solution. While it will require several annual applications, the first application really did “quiet” the composition. Hence the yellow color in the photo above. However, in the sunshine, that yellow becomes nice, white, and more uniform in color. Really sets off those red buds, doesn’t it?


Fast-forward a couple weeks….
When the buds open, and each year for the past 6 years, I pluck out the center, leaving only one pair of leaves (and 2 buds for next year) at each node. This is done to keep the internodes short, and to keep the ramification fine and balanced:


Here is how ramification develops over several growing seasons:

The bright red is very nice, if fleeting:




8 thoughts on “More from the Chishio workshop

  1. I thought I recognized this tree from your thread on Bnut about pinching for ramification. I love the look of the lime sulphur treated wood with the red leaves. I wouldn’t have thought to use it on a deciduous tree or outside of treating dead wood.

  2. Brian, does it matter whether you apply the lime sulfur in spring or fall? I’m assuming that you applied this in spring after/or during the workshop… but I’m curious if Kathy gave you any specific instructions on timing and application? — And did you need to cover the soil to prevent any dripping?

    1. It probably doesn’t matter when, but it is starting to wash/flake off in a few places, so time it so it has a few weeks to mellow before showing, but not so long that the effect is lost. What’s cool, is that some small vertical expansion fissures opened up on the back, that really give the appearance of aged J. maple bark.

      Application: 1:1 dilution, applied with a paint brush, top to bottom and inside out, out to the last node, but not the buds. I did nothing to cover the soil, I’ve had no problem with any getting on the soil, and it cleans off glazed pots pretty easily.

      1. Thanks Brian, does it do anything to actually whiten the bark over time, or simply act as a temporary cover until the bark ages?

      2. It’s basically like spray-painting the bark. LS will wear off a little over time, and it can be scrubbed off, but it doesn’t permanently change the bark under it.

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