We’ve been following the progress of this yaupon, Ilex vomitoria, for a while now. Hollies grow well in summer, and you can see in the photo that this one has been no different. Today it was time to do some more development work.
First I cleaned the trunk, soil surface and pot, then I did some initial pruning to re-establish the tree’s silhouette. Notice the sacrifice branch denoted by the arrow. It sprouted near the base of a new shoot that will form part of the structure of the tree, growing straight up. As you probably know, branches that grow straight up tend to get very thick very quickly as they reach for the sun. This is ideal for a sacrifice branch. The faster I can get the thickness I want on the structural branch, the better. So I won’t touch the sacrifice branch for the rest of the 2015 growing season.
Here’s a closeup of the sacrifice branch I’m talking about. Notice that it’s almost right up against the trunk of the tree, meaning it’s in the ideal location. You can see I’ve also wired the structural branch that will become part of my design. Holly shoots get very stiff very quickly, so if you want movement in them you must wire them early-on.
You may recall that in my last post featuring this tree I had cut the leader I let grow to thicken and help establish the tapering transition from the original trunk chop. In today’s work, it’s time to bring the apex back even farther. This process is one you will do over and over again as you develop your trees. If you do it correctly, you’ll have a seamless-appearing trunk taper from soil to apex. This is a big part of creating the optical illusion that a bonsai is larger and older than it really is.
This specimen has a trunk base of 2.5″ and will have a final height of about 22″. Developing the crown, along with ramification of the lower branching, is the final step in making this a fine specimen yaupon bonsai. I should be able to accomplish this in about three years.