Shimpaku Styling 5

This tree goes in fits and starts. I thought it had been a long time since it was updated, but it is here, and is a sprint through nearly 3 years of time, ending in April 2017. This first 2 shots below are July 2017 photos. The graft failed, unfortunately leaving the left vein supporting no foliage, meaning it was destined to dry up and wither, and with it, a very sinuous curving line moving along the left side of the tree. Bummer.

On a positive note, the back side had become an interesting option, and this angle isn’t quite as dependent on the second live vein:

When Bjorn visited in December, it was in the midst of 6″ of snow falling in Birmingham. So I moved the workshop trees into the shower to thaw and drain, and knew if anyone would understand bonsai trees draining in the guest shower, it was probably him!

I shared my idea of changing the front, but was talked out of it for now, because the base is so much wider on the original front. I also shared my disappointment with my efforts to do justice to this tree so far. I’d nearly killed it once, and lost the graft keeping the left side live vein alive, not to mention that my carving efforts were significantly less than Kimura-esque. Bjorn, being the optimist, assured me we’d make something that would make it in the Nationals one day.

And by the time we finished pruning and wiring it, I began to believe it:

Buoyed by the new direction, I decided to give my Foredom another chance on the deadwood. Stars aligned, and the results were much better.

The two biggest challenges to carving were to try and keep the left live vein’s movement visible in the carving, and to join the left Jin to the rest of the tree so it all looks like a single event caused the death of the left side, and it was all subjected to the same weathering effects of time. Later, with a diluted application of lime sulfur, the tones will even out, and the depth of the carving will be accentuated. When I found a line I liked, I tried to follow it along as far as the tree would allow, and then deepen it as much as the carving bits would allow. I used a tri-cut bit, a much smaller bur bit, and followed up with a brass wheel to knock all the fuzz off.

For January 2018, here it sits. It will need a smaller pot, but I’m going to take my time. Each time I’ve worked on this tree, it’s resulted in a significant setback, so I need to break that cycle. But I can live with this for another season, and let the branches start to thicken up and lengthen out. It needs to fill in some of the space between canopy and base, but that will come with another growing season…if I don’t jinx it!

Fast-forward a few months to June 2018, and the tree is growing well.

A little trimming back of some strong runners should encourage more back-budding. Still going slow…

Rinse and repeat a month later in August…

Still not 100% sure about the front, because this is interesting too…

Next spring, a new pot…probably a round one!

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Shohin crabapple

This is a sargentii from Evergreen Gardenworks. It’s an older tree, by Brent’s description, but new to me in late 2016. It came in a 1-gallon can:

It took significant root reduction to get the tree into a Bonsai pot; this one a gift from Roy Minarai:

Unfortunately, I let it go a few hours too long between watering and it dried out in June 2017:

It was pruned back in the early spring 2018, before and after:

Repotted again in March 2018:

It bloomed for the first time in my care in April 2018:

And it grew fairly erratically, but very strongly, and even bloomed again in June 2018. I decided it was strong enough to prune some of the coarse branches back which should help define the nice taper and movement of the trunk.

Brace yourself…

As the new shoots extended, the best-located ones were coaxed into position and given some movement with a little wire.

And a month later, it’s starting to take shape…

Zelkova Air-Layer continues

In early July, this tree’s primary branches were wired. Interestingly, since they were wired up and out, so each had a place in the sunshine, the tree responded with rapid growth. In about 3 weeks, it became necessary to remove the wires.

Branch selection:

Wired on 7/14:

3 weeks later:

Wires removed, and the primary branches were shortened…significantly:

We should have enough growing season remaining to make 2 more rounds of growing and clipping…