Privet12-27-15-1I happened across this Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, while walking my property today. The base looked really good, and I thought the two trunks went well together. Better still, it came out the ground in under five minutes.

Here’s the tree with its rootball. Privets are shallow-rooted, so you never have to go too deep to free them from the ground. There are typically numerous lateral roots, however, and privet sapwood is remarkably tough. But the cordless reciprocating saw still makes short work of them.

Take a close look at this tree, as there’s a good lesson worth remembering when you select the material you plan to work on. The left-hand trunk tapers all right up to about midway. Then it flares back out. This is not suitable for bonsai design, so there’s no choice but to chop the trunk back. The right-hand trunk tapers pretty well, but notice the long straight section. I’ll guarantee you that if I don’t cut this trunk back, your eye will be drawn to it like a magnet as you view the developing/developed tree. Simply put, it’s a flaw that I have to deal with now; otherwise, there’s a second chop in this trunk’s future.

Privet12-27-15-2Now I’ve got the roots washed and cut back, and both trunks chopped. It doesn’t look like there’s much left to this pre-bonsai specimen, but I’ve done the work today that needs to be done in order to allow for proper design of the tree over the next few years.






Another possible front. The base looks better from this angle. The secondary trunk goes toward the back of the tree, but I think this can be dealt with as the new leaders are developed. In fact, it might make for a better design. It’s not always easy to see your complete tree when you first collect or buy a piece of material that’s in a rough state as this one is. The good news is, you don’t have to. I plan to let this tree come out in spring, select my two new leaders and then wire and shape them. By the end of the 2016 growing season, I’ll have a much better idea of my final design.




The tree potted in a nursery container. I sawed it very flat, to make placing the tree in a bonsai container much easier when the time comes. The trunk base is 2.25″ and it’s about 6″ in height to the chops.