‘Arakawa’ Japanese Maple fall cleanup

Here is a shot before the work. I started this as an air-layer about 10 years ago, and it has been mostly container-grown. It has a decent nebari developing under the soil which will have the characteristic ‘arakawa’ bark as it becomes exposed over time.

Close up

Removed leaves

Closer up

Branch grown and shaped for thread-grafting

To fill in this space, just under the cut scar and above where it originates from the trunk:

On to the pruning…heavy, long internodes, and those pointing up need to go:

Another example, before:

After:

This one looks pretty good, evenly balanced, tertiary branches emerging in pairs, laterally:

A branch terminating in 3 shoots, prune down to an acute pair, emerging side-by-side:

Crossing branches need to go, especially those which are heavy and pointing straight up. These are the strong shoots that will run long, and overshadow the rest of the tree, and weaken the branches around them.

Finished for now.

A comparison from winter 2019 to late fall 2020, one year of work:

The pot? Older Yozan with the kiln’s iconic red clay.

Shohin Shimpaku summer cleanup

Before:

Foliage cleaned up, undersides and dense areas only:

Soji, cleaning up the soil and adding a fresh top layer to get it through the rest of summer:

Work completed for now.

The pot is by Shinobu, an award-winning Shohin pot maker whose work is regularly featured at the Gafu-ten exhibition each winter in Japan. I think it’s a fantastic fit.

Incidentally, this composition is 5 years along from an air layer.

Itoigawa Shimpaku summer work

I last wired this one 2 years ago, and the wire was digging in. It had also gotten fairly dense, and as is the case, weak areas got weaker, and strong areas got stronger.

So this work was to remove the wires, and then trim the tree back to restore some balance.

Here is the tree before the work…bushy!

After unwiring, it really has a case of bed head.

And before pruning back:

Some detail of the cleanup, here’s what gets cut.

Crotch Growth
Dead stuff
Weak juvenile growth
Long runners

Starting with this:

Ending with this, branches ending in pairs of growth “tufts”:

This will make fall wiring much simpler!

Another branch example:

In all, about 1/3 of the foliage was removed, but most of it was inefficient, shaded out and weak.

What’s left has space in the sun, and good balance for even growth for the rest of the growing season. Here are some shots after the work:

Underside of the first left branch
Underside of the first right branch
Looking up into the tree, notice there is plenty of space for air and sunlight.
Apex
Overhead shot looking down over the tree. Good distribution.

One more shot a few days later, after foliage has had a chance to settle in again:

In the fall, the tree will be wired again, with less but similar thinning out. I’m still on the hunt for a good pot…