This root-over-Rock trident was started about 11 years ago, and the leaves will reduce down to 1/2″ with constant trimming. Defoliating is used not to reduce leaf size, but to provide some visibility into what’s happening inside the canopy. If an area is getting too coarse inside the canopy, it’s difficult to see. So, in mid-June, I removed all the leaves to get a look. The growing season is long enough that it can continue to grow.
Close-up shot of the coarse branches that need to be pruned back to bifrucating pairs:
And after pruning:
A month later, the tree is full again, but notice the larger leaf size:
Now, pinching will resume for the rest of the growing season, removing the strong shoots that grow past the profile, and large leaves. This pinching is what produces small leaves and shorter internodes; here is a shot in mid-August, after constant trimming to prevent long shoots from running outside the profile.
And after the pruning while defoliated, more these new branches can be kept as part of the next course of ramification.
During the remainder of the growing season, larger leaves will be removed to allow light in. Leaving smaller leaves helps maintain the scale.
In this post, the reasons and process for defoliating the maple was discussed. 4 weeks later, here are new, bright red buds and new shoots developing in the interior of the tree. These will be allowed to grow next year and some will replace older, heavier branches to improve the taper and movement overall.
This is my Chishio Improved, which I have been trying to improve little by little over the last 15 years. I have noticed a tendency for the tree to shed interior growth and grow much stronger on the outer areas. A way to combat this tendency is to partially defoliate the tree, removing one leaf out of each pair of leaves throughout the tree. I did leave full pairs intact on the interior branches.
Here is a close up of one branch before:
And another shot showing each pair of leaves marked with a yellow V, and the cut petiole marked with a blue hash mark:
I find the effect is better if I remove the other leaf from the one of the pair I grab. If that makes sense. it’s tedious work, but you can find a groove and move along pretty quickly. This work took 2 hours. From above, the overlapping of leaves is reduced, and light can get into the interior of the tree, hopefully encouraging backbudding.
I also took the opportunity to unwire and lightly prune some of the excessively strong areas, scrape off the crusty layer of soil and top-dressing of sphagnum moss, and replace it with a fresh layer of akadama. A shot before: