Spring is gathering speed now, and most everything on my benches (beech and most oaks are usually last) is coming into leaf. Water-elms also lag, so I took the opportunity today to pot up a couple of small ones. This is another of the trees that came home last summer. Nice smaller specimen, 1″ trunk and destined to finish at 12″. As with small bonsai in general (and you should take this as a hard and fast rule), your tree will consist of fewer than a dozen primary branches in total. This includes the branches in the crown. So here you see I’ve made a design with only four branches (so far). There will be two to four max in the crown. And that’s it!
I think this Chuck Iker round is going to go perfectly with this tree. The root system was very good, considering the tree has only been on the bench for a few months’ worth of growth (last summer/fall).
And another small Water-elm, trunk base slightly larger than 1″ and again it’ll finish at 12″. Here I’ve got five primary branches along with the leader, so again a simple structure. (If you crowd your branching too much in a small tree, there’s no way to avoid the “shrub” effect. That’s not bonsai. Less is more.)
Fun with Swamp maples continues. I collected a handful of nice ones this year, my goal being to see how well they hold up over the next few years. I’ve been encouraged by the last two I brought home. By keeping an intact root mass and avoiding completely cleaning the roots, it appears they don’t become susceptible to trunk rot. If this does prove to be the key to success, then you’ll see more specimens over the next few years. They really do have some nice characteristics, so I’m excited. Today I wired a single branch on this very tall specimen (18″ trunk with a 1.5″ base; I had one I blogged about the past couple of years that went on to a client; I’m trying to duplicate that design). Why wire one branch? It should help redirect energy elsewhere, especially to the many trunk buds you can’t yet see. I’ll need this branch in my design, and I don’t want it getting too thick too fast. I’ll also be pruning it later in the season, to activate the buds that appear at the nodes on the branch.
Finally, this Parsley hawthorn came out of my ground growing area earlier in the year. It’s exploding with growth, as you can see. That includes some shoots on the recumbent trunk that will make upright trunks to go along with the four I currently have. So I’ll let them grow without restraint for some time, possibly even all season. I do want variety in the trunk thicknesses, but I can control that as this tree develops. You’ve probably noticed that one of the two largest trunks leans a bit too much, making the design less harmonious than it can be. I’ll notch this trunk a little later in spring, bringing it more upright.