It may seem at times that chaos reigns in bonsai creation, but the fact is everything we actively do requires attention to detail. I’ll be the first to admit that I use the “shearing” method of developing bonsai, at those times when it’s called for, but I can assure you that even when shearing a tree the details are not lost. It’s just that the work tends to go very quickly.
This Water-elm, Planera aquatica, was collected last October and will ultimately end up in someone’s collection. In the meantime, however, I can’t let it grow unstyled or frankly whoever ends up with it would have to more or less start over. So today it was time to make an important design decision and nudge the tree in that direction.
Here’s the problem with this tree, at this point in time. I’ve got a nice new apical shoot that’s been through its initial growth and has been cut back once. That’s well and good, but if you look closely the thing that stands out is how straight the new leader is. It’s ugly, in other words, and if allowed to continue growing it’s going to get longer and thicker and remain ugly.
Here’s the solution to this problem. Now the leader is not straight and uninteresting, it’s got some taper and a nice curve has been wired into it. It’s going to backbud right where I cut it, so I’ll be able to wire some additional branches in the new crown. I’ll allow the leader to run for a while, to thicken everything below it.
The bottom line is, paying attended to detail now will pay off nicely down the road. It’s something we need to do every time we actively work on a tree.