Summer work on a trident maple

This tree was wired after the leaves fell, late November 2020

By the second pruning in late spring 2021, it was time to remove wires.

Using a photo of the leafless tree to make sure I don’t miss any wires!
Wires removed, and lightly pruned, late April 2021.

And in mid-summer, it was time to get a look at what was going on under all that foliage.

During explosive growth, whorls and strong shoots can develop, which aren’t useful to the design of the tree. I left the long shoots in case one was necessary as a sacrifice branch, but most of the leaves were removed so I could prune back the growth to evenly-sized transitions and pairs of shoots at each terminal.

First right branch, pruned back to pairs of shoots, with good transitions and short internodes.
Repeating this moving upward into the tree. Adding a few wires where necessary.
Work complete, mid-July 2021.
Night shot

Exactly 3 weeks later, here is how the tree has responded. The leaves are slightly larger, and the internodes on some shoots are longer.

So the tree was lightly pruned, removing long shoots back to the first internode, and some of the larger leaves were removed.

And then it was returned to the bench to continue growing out.

Stewartia summer pruning

Stewartia is a hearty grower, and this one has been trimmed back several times already this season. However, simply pruning around the profile seems to create some coarse whorls and shoots that will need to be removed later anyway. So this time (mid-July) I went through the tree, branch by branch, and reduced shoots to pairs of leaves throughout the tree, and removed those shoots that were too coarse to use in the design. In essence, I did a winter pruning in mid-summer.

A shot showing a branch after pruning. Note how branch transitions are not coarse, and all shoots have 2 buds, pruned to an outward-facing bud.
After pruning, the tree is still pretty dense, but well-balanced, top to bottom.
The money shot
The base and bark is beautiful!

JBP Summer Candle-cutting time

Throughout this tree’s 12 years of training, I have photographed and documented every step in detail, to study the cause-effect response of each technique applied, as well as the timing of that response. One thing I have learned is that candle-cutting in summer should be done about 100 days before your area’s average first frost. This gives new growth time to grow and harden off before winter, but not so much time that needles get too long.

Summer candle-cutting is the removal of this year’s growth, right down to the base. It leaves last year’s growth in place, so basically it makes the tree look like it did in March before it started growing.

New growth extends past the wires
The candle is cut here

Why summer candle-cut? It is a refinement technique which forces the tree to produce multiple shoots from the point where a single shoot was. This increases ramification and density. It also results in shorter internodes and shorter needles.

Here is a progression of this year’s growth.

March, 2021
May 2021
July 2021
Top decandled
Continuing down
Nearly done

This tree was candle-cut just a bit early this year because it was accepted into the 7th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in New York this September. My timing is to have new shoots just open in time for the show, so the shoots will be full, but needles will be short. Most of last year’s needles will be removed just prior to the show.

For more on the process of training this tree, check out my book, 100+ pages of photographs showing a virtual time-lapse training of a JBP.: