Here’s a good illustration of the principle I noted above. In removing most of the low left-hand branch, I’ve brought the profile of the tree even further in. Compare this photo with the first one. The proportions of your bonsai are vital to believability. It’s very common for our trees to “get away” from us, meaning they become too broad in their silhouettes. This tends to make them look younger and less mature, and less like a real tree in nature. In the worst cases, your tree will end up looking like a shrub in a pot! It’s the sort of thing that can sneak up on you over time, so it’s always good to ask yourself the question: Will this tree look better if I just reduce its profile and open it up? You may be surprised at how often the answer is yes.
I acquired this Pocomoke crape myrtle from a grower a few years ago. It was overgrown, so my first job was to chop it back so I could start planning a design. This is a photo of the tree from last August.
The buds are starting to swell, so it’s time to get busy making a bonsai out of this piece of raw material. If I don’t act fast, I’ll have a mountain of shoots and foliage to contend with in no time.
Almost all of the development work you’ll do on your bonsai consists of reducing the breadth, volume and profile of your tree. Also the maintenance work. They’re always wanting to grow out on you. So here I started by dramatically reducing that branch on the right side of the tree.
Less is always more. There were too many shoots in the upper part of the tree. I’ve removed most of them along that upright knob that didn’t add anything worthwhile to the design.
Here I’ve wrapped things up for today by wiring and shaping the branches. When you compare this image with the first (or second) one above, you can see how much improved this Pocomoke is. All it needs now is the right pot. (I do need to go ahead and remove most of the root mass and get it in a bonsai pot. The design can be completed over time, and the restricted space of the bonsai pot will finish the miniaturization process. One more thing to note: that low left-hand branch needs to continue from where it’s been pruned in a downward and then horizontal sweep to the left. That will really add to the design by complementing the movement of the branch on the left-hand side that’s directly above it.) Let me know what you think of today’s work.