I’ve been working on this Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) in the ground for about five years. I lifted it in July 2018, potted and left it to recover. With fall colors now showing, I decided an initial styling was in order.

As with all multi-trunk specimens, shoots that project into the space between the trunks must go. Also, those small low shoots are too low on the primary trunk and need to be removed.

Working from bottom to top, the first order of business is eliminating superfluous shoots. The design of the tree gets easier to see as you do this.

Now the real fun starts. I’ve selected and wired the first two branches of this future bonsai.

While it’s possible and often useful to design one trunk at a time, here I’ve moved to the secondary trunk to get its design started. This will actually help me complete the design of the primary trunk.

Here I’ve turned the tree so it’s easier to see the secondary trunk. The design is simple but effective.

Back to the primary trunk. I removed the dead stub I had hoped would be my leader when I lifted the tree, then located the highest shoot and wired it into place.

It’s easier to see the new leader from this angle.

I removed the remaining unneeded shoots and wired those that were left. The initial design is complete. I’ll need to let the primary trunk leader run to thicken it. I expect to be able to grow and clip it twice in 2019. Sweetgums grow vigorously.

There will be more to come on this nice field-grown Sweetgum in 2019. Watch for updates starting in spring.

Let me know what you think of today’s work. Leave a comment below.