Prunus Mume, year in the life

Hello. It’s been a few weeks, but I have turned my attention back to bonsai a little bit, and that means sharing some recent work here. I’ll try to add a post every week or two through the rest of the year, but in honesty, I have not been working on trees much lately. This is a time of year, fortunately, that you can take your foot off the gas just a little (JBP excluded) and focus on other things…like kid’s sports, visiting family, enjoying some college football, and even building a new business. All of which have taken a priority to bonsai recently. It will be an interesting study, to see the impact of a nearly “fallow” year in the bonsai garden. Although I did show a couple trees at Nationals, and did work on several trees fairly intensely this year, most of the trees were ignored and allowed to grow largely unchecked this year. We’ll see next year if that helped or hurt any.

Anyway, this post is nearly a year in the making, starting with a shot in January 2021 and following the work on this nursery stock Ume over the course of this year. Spoiler alert, I think it was a good year for the tree!

I started 2021 pruning and wiring the tree, January 2021:

January 2021, before pruning, wiring, and first bonsai pot
Early March, after repotting into its first real bonsai pot, a beautiful Shuho.
First pruning of the year
Late May, second flush
Pruned back a second time, wires removed

Pruned again in mid June (no photo)

Late July, lightly wired a few branches into place for use later.

In early November, the leaves were beginning to turn, so they were removed, along with the wires to get a look into the progress from the year:

I lightly pruned and rewired the tree.

And here is the beginning and end comparison. In all, it was a good year. I want to keep foliage close to the trunk, keep the tree growing strongly, and it would be great to see a few flowers in January of 2023.

Thanks for reading. Soon, some fall color and maybe a Kiyozuru update…


Fall work on an Ume

Last winter I wired this Ume, which was a feat. The post is here:

This year, I didn’t get a chance to repot the tree, and along with the stress of wiring, it didn’t have a great year. Here is a shot in the growing season, weak left side, decent right side, not much interior growth.

In October I unwired the tree. Best to do this before the flower buds start to swell, as they’re easily knocked off. Before:

After, the branches held reasonably well.

And a week later, I removed the yellowing leaves, and the branching isn’t bad for an Ume:

A few branches trimmed, and a couple wired, and it’s ready for winter…and hopefully a good flower showing.

Winter Wiring of an Ume, Prunus mume

It has been around 5 years since I wired this tree out completely. The branches get long and leggy, and they don’t back us well. To top it off, the branches are crazy brittle and the already-precious buds are very easy to knock off. Imagine wiring a pretzel stick and trying to get it to bend not break, and also not knock off any of the salt crystals…which are about as well-attached to a pretzel stick as the buds are to the branch.

My goal was to simply move the branches into a more horizontal position, and to thin out a couple areas on the right side, where the tree had grown pretty strong. To accomplish this, I used oversized aluminum wire, wired every branch first, then began to place the branches, by moving the wires, not the wood. Several still snapped, but on balance, I was able to move the branches into a more horizontal plane without knocking off too many buds along the way. When spring hits, I’ll know the extent of the damage…

The additional challenge with Ume is that the viable buds are out toward the tips, so they can’t simply be cut back to length, because if a viable bud isn’t present, that branch will likely die. This means I need to work with as much of the tree as possible.



Branches moved into position:

The apex definitely needs work, but at least the branches are tamed.

Here are a couple more parting shots. Thanks for reading.