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“Fire” RMJ first styling

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:

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Satsuki Azalea, ‘Kinsai’ cleanup…x2

As the show winds down, from this (May 2018):

To this:

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:

Satsuki Azalea, ‘Kinsai’

The bright red, strap like flowers make this a unique and beautiful cultivar. However, as a hybrid cultivar, they have a few foibles. Do you see a flower that looks a bit out of place?

They tend to throw a sport, reverting to the “mother plant” with a full-petaled flower here and there, which will become the dominant flower if left unchecked.

See it now?

When the tree is in full bloom, it’s easy to find the big flowers…

And remove them back to the point where the thin petaled flowers grow.

The following year, the large flowers were fewer:

Next week we’ll look at cleanup after the show, two years in a row.