Cleaning up a shimpaku shohin

This started out as an air-layer of another shimpaku, made in 2014.  Here it is in summer 2015:
It was pruned back and wired in 2016, and allowed to grow.

Spring 2017, before:


Pruned and wired:

Slip-potted into a nice Shinobu pot:

And mossed up for the show:


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.


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.

Drilled a hole; going in through the out door:

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

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


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


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:





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


And grow, it did. Late March:

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.

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


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:


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

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.

The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 1

Here is post I’ve been reluctant to share, and work I’ve been reluctant to do. In fact, I started writing this post around December 2014, updating it now in September 2015, and I’m still not fully ready to share the work.

Consistent with the 5-7 year finished tree cycle, the hawthorn was collected in 2000, and developed over 12 years, until it was awarded the John Naka award, featured on the cover of the Journal of the American a Bonsai Society, accepted into the 2014 US National Bonsai Exhibition, and also appeared in an issue of the 2015 International Bonsai Magazine. Now it was time to spend a few years taking the tree to a higher level of refinement.
Unlike the maple, I’m rather proud of the hawthorn’s appearance in the USNBE.

During Sunday morning’s critique, Kathy and Boon were kind enough to take a moment to offer their critique of my entry. Here are their comments:

•Color of pot is good.
•Leaves have a lot of detail, but the stand is plain.
•Use a more ornate stand if using this pot.
•Edge of stand, edge of pot, and upper branches show too much repetition.
•Not much taper in upper primary branches. Normal for deciduous trees, but it does catch your eye, and the edge of the stand and rim of pot highlighted it.

•Trunk goes right, top goes left;
•Straighten trunk in pot, fix branches.
•Too far left in pot.
•Grow center branch out to thicken it.
•Shorten left branch; too long and straight.
•Middle branches pointing down, lower branches pointing up;
•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.

Well…I asked for it, I got it. Do something with it! When I got home, September 2014, I hosed away all the moss and top soil, slip-potted it out of its 1st generation Yamaaki show pot, and into the 3rd generation Yamaaki pot for the winter, and contemplated the work to be done.
December 2014:




Here are the 3 primary areas to be addressed:


Branch 1 was a no-brainer. It had become an issue for me too, and offered two secondary branches to cut back to.



Branch 2 was also pretty simple. It was a back branch, but someday, the back could become the front, so removal was done with this option in mind.

Branch 3 was removed at the trunk. Looking closely, it makes sense to remove it. It was the middle one of three branches emerging directly from the trunk in that area. The challenge was, to move other branches into the space involved still using fairly heavy branches…problem not completely solved…but we’re off to a good start and headed in the right direction.




Here it was after the round of work…


In the spring of 2015, it was root-pruned, and repotted; more to the center, into a much deeper container, with the plan to leave it for 2 years while encouraging the top growth to run wild.


In early May 2015, it was pretty shaggy, and was cut back. Wires were not scarring the bark yet, but are getting close. Before:


It was allowed to grow for the remainder of the year. Here it is again in August 2015: