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:
I collected this in South Dakota in 2013.
From this exact spot, very near the line of a fire that burned in the area between my first trip there and second. You can see some of the damage in the hill across:
And potted back in Iowa:
In 2016, I was able to remove the rotted burlap, and the original field soil, and potted it into a Bonsai pot with good, coarse soil to continue growing strong in Birmingham.
The attempted approach graft failed eventually. A few years later, it was full and ready for some work.
Before the workshop, I cleaned up the trunk, and foliage, and played around with some new planting angles. One was this:
And I was curious as to what Bjorn would think. Instead, he asked me “so, what are we doing with this?” So I had to go first. We agreed this was probably a good course of action, and also agreed to not simplify it too much by removing the second trunk.
Before starting, and setting the planting angle:
Starting to wire, primary branches only. Going conservative on the first wiring:
And the result of the first round:
As the show winds down, from this (May 2018):
It’s time to remove the flowers, pruning to remove the branches sporting the fat-petal flowers while it’s still easy to tell which are which.
Then trim it back:
And lightly wire:
A few weeks later and it’s filling out nicely.
Fast-Forward to April 2019, nearly a full year later. The tree is growing well and within a month of flowering. I’m debating about the front, and have been toying with this front, which gives the appearance of a cascading first branch. If I go with this front, I’ll re-orient the tree in its pot to center it and keep the exposed roots upright and not leaning. I like the widening canopy as well.
Here is the tree in bloom, 2019:
And in our club show, just a little past peak blooming:
And over Memorial Day Weekend 2019, I had a chance to clean it up again. From this:
To this, with a rough trimming to start:
Finally, flowers removed, and more pruning done. Here is the final result: