2017 Repotting: Japanese Maple, Chishio

Unlike last week’s azalea, this fella is on an annual Repotting cycle.  It’s been in straight akadama for the last few years, and the root system is doing very well in it.


I take my time on this tree, combing out the roots carefully, and then hosing out the soil between; repeating the steps several times until the old soil is washed out.  It allows me to find and eliminate any of the roots that are growing on the bottom and are trying to get strong.  “Planing” the underside of the trunk keeps it spreading out over time.  


Wired back in, and planted deep enough to keep those roots growing.  One day, it’s going to have a very nice, natural nebari.


This tree has been in a bonsai pot for 13 years now, and while it’s tough to see progress year to year, looking back 10 years shows a different story.

2007:


2017:

The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 3

Picking up where we left off last week, in the summer of 2016:


Fall color was nice:


And in January 2017, it was pruned back, to replace too-heavy branches with thinner ones, prune long shoots back to a couple buds, and reduce whorles to pairs.  

So let’s review.  Nearly 3 years ago, here was the tree:


And here was the advice received from a couple pros:

•Not much taper in upper primary branches. Normal for deciduous trees, but it does catch your eye.

•Trunk goes right, top goes left; straighten trunk in pot, fix branches.

•Grow center branch out to thicken it.

•Shorten left branch; too long and straight.

•Middle branches pointing down, lower branches pointing up; make low branches point down, middle branches point out, high branches point up.

•Open area exposes 3 branches at same height.

•Balance foliage; upper left and lower right are strong, upper right and lower left are thin.

Now, fast-forward to February 2017 and it’s time to prune.  Before:


After:

The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 2

In February 2016, the buds were swelling and it was time to try a graft to add a branch in a space that really needed to fill in.

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Close-up:

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Hawthorns have thin bark and callus rather slowly, so I don’t know how it’s going to take. However, the area will have plenty of access to sunshine and branches can grow fast in the spring, so we’ll see. A thread-graft was the safest choice, and I’d identified a candidate.

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Drilled a hole; going in through the out door:

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Fish the scion through carefully, trying to preserve some buds on the way through:

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A twig from the same tree used as a wedge, and a little wire to hold things in place:

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And a good seal of cut putty is placed around both ends of the graft:

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Next up, some spring pruning. I went pretty aggressive in the winter of 2014, and I noticed that while the tree didn’t back-bud too strongly, it did grow well; meaning the bare areas didn’t fill in. I need to keep riding back on the heavier branches, but I also need to take it a bit more slowly. A little at a time:

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After some pruning and wiring just a few branches, it is ready to grow for the year:

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And grow, it did. Late March:

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By mid-April, I pruned back the areas that were already thick enough; the top, upper right side, lower left. I didn’t touch any shoots that were wired, or grafted.

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Mid May, I did a bit more pruning, and moved back high branch down and to the right.
Before:

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After:

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The grafted shoot, and guy-wired upper left branch were not touched. It’s growing nicely, and I should be able to prune it back fairly soon:

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The density is improving nicely. By late June, the upper left area was thickening, and I was ready to slow its roll…

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In a span of 2 years, I was able to replace the first left branch with a smaller branch, with more movement and taper.

Branch 2 was a back branch, and it will fill in over time. With that, the apex won’t look quite so isolated up top.

Branch 3 was more problematic. I didn’t have a replacement to develop, and didn’t get one, so I had to graft one.