Fat little trident maple

Here is a project 11 years in the making. Truthfully, it’s probably a 5-6 year project, but I’ve learned a lot along the way, and hopefully my timelines shorten as I go on.
2002, received, and planted in the ground:


Then in 2003, I did some root work and planted it in a shallow flat, and wired up a new leader. I have learned that this is not the best way to develop new trunk sections:


2004-2005 in a wood box. It regained some strength after root work, and started growing well:



Here it is in 2008, back in the ground:


In 2010, the top half died back, so it was reduced to a stump:



Fast-forward a few years of in-ground growing time…



After cleaning up the pruning scars, adding fresh cuts to the callus, and scraping off the rough bark around the collars:



This is on the path to becoming a powerful little shohin pig. If it continues to close the pruning scars this year, it might be time for a pot next spring.


Shimpaku workshop re-revisited

Here is a quick flashback on this juniper that I’ve been working on with Kathy Shaner, each March for the last 3 years. This year, we worked on the maple and didn’t touch this shimpaku. I like where she’s taken it, and have started to develop my own vision, so I didn’t push the issue…

In ’09


In ’10


In ’11


In ’12


In ’13…before:


In ’13 after working with Bjorn:

So, what did we do? Basically we continued to compact the design.

We Reduced the first left branch; one that Kathy and I had split to “roll” the top half closer to the trunk. The bottom part was originally kept as a contingency plan. Since the top half was healthy, we removed the bottom portion, leaving some Jin:

Using a guy-wire, we pulled the left branch even closer to the trunk. Eventually it may be removed to make the negative space to the left a little more dramatic as the tree is tilted to the right.

Next, the lowest right branch was pulled in and down. To pull it in, I removed some of the dead wood:

Wrapped it in Parafilm, raffia, then wire:


And guy-wired:


Then, we tackled the back branch. It will eventually be removed too, but for now, some of the foliage is being used to fill in some space above the first right branch, and toward the back. Two younger branches growing from the trunk are being developed to fill in those two areas. It was reduced, and converted to Jin:


Next was the apex. The apex is left of the base, so the tree looks unbalanced. Two years ago, I split the trunk to begin moving the apex right. This year I split it a little more to move it further right and to compact it. I used a bamboo stick to wedge it open, and wrapped raffia around the trunk to stop it from splitting too far. Tilting the tree to the right will help, but that will come in the next repotting.

Then, to further compress the apex, we wrapped it with raffia, wired, bent, and guy-wired. In total, the tree wast reduced nearly 2″ in height!


Finally, the remaining branches were wired out, thinned, and foliage was removed form the bottoms of each pad.


So, looking at the tree for a few days, I decided the tree would be much more dramatic without the lowest left branch. So, off it came:

Next steps? Grow out the two branches emerging from the trunk, just under the raffia wrap. Keep the “crotches” and undersides of branches clean. Repot next year, adjusting the planting angle and moving to a smaller pot.

Root over rock trident maple project

I started this project in ’10, with a 2-year old cutting and a rock I picked up a long time ago. It’s one of 3 similar stones I found in the same area…just can’t remember where! They’re all smooth, hard and dark. This one is about 10″ tall.

’10, the cutting:


Sloppily attached to the stone:


It was then planted deep into the orange can in the background, and left to grow unchecked all year.

In ’11, here is the progress after one year:


Roots trimmed and redirected to follow the grain of the stone, then wrapped in raffia:



Tightly covered in Parafilm:



In ’12, worked again, and to experiment, wrapped it in Saran Wrap and taped down (Parafilm is better). The root isn’t attaching very well at the top. Ideally, no daylight is visible between the root and the rock. I cleaned up the roots a little more, and put it back in the ground.

My vision for this tree is to have interesting, well-attached roots, then a nice spreading nebari at the soil level.




It was allowed to grow until July, then it was cut back.

In ’13, it was time to address the gap and to work a little on cut at the back.

How did it look?


Then, clean up the dead wood, expose the cambium to keep it rolling, and fill it with cut paste (shown later):


Expose cambium and pack the area with spaghnum moss. Lets hope for either more roots, or for the callus to swell to consume the space between the rock and roots.




Clean up the roots and direct them a little, then wrap in Parafilm and cover with raffia:


Then, trim the roots that will eventually form the nebari at the soil surface, once it is in a pot:

It went back in the ground for another year, and each year it’s planted a little higher…this year, just about at the level it will be planted into a bonsai pot. Here it is just a few weeks later.

Most likely, it will go into a pot next year to develop branches!