I first showed you this Boxelder, Acer negundo, last October. I chopped the trunk low in order to build taper and movement, as the original trunk lacked both. At the time I made some notes to indicate my future plan for the tree.
Here’s a current shot of the tree. This is just the sort of growth you want to see on trees you’re developing from the bare- or chopped-trunk stage. Fast and strong growth is a must. Why? Weak trees do not make good bonsai, and you can’t really do much work on them to begin with. So if you aren’t getting strong growth on your material in development, that should be your first priority.
The first rule, of course, is to edit out a lot of that strong growth so as to bring a design out of the chaos. Not to worry, the tree will respond by trying to regrow everything you took off. But that too is exactly what you need, since it speeds up your development work.
If you look closely at this photo and the first one above, you’ll see that instead of removing the left-hand bud at the transition point I removed the right-hand one. That’s the opposite of what my drawing envisioned. So why did I do it? If you study the movement between the trunk base and the leader I started with, it’s about a 30 degree jog to the left covering an inch or so of trunk. If I jog back to the right, and let the leader run to thicken that short section of trunk, I’ll end up with almost no movement at all. This is what commonly happens, and as you wire movement into trunks and branches you need to keep it in mind. As a trunk or branch grows out, what seems to be a hard turn becomes softer. So put more movement in than you think you should. In the case of the leader I’ve chosen here, once it grows out I’ll definitely have more movement in the trunk than I’d have otherwise. When I jog back to the right, I’ll have some pleasing movement to build on. I also wired a couple of low branches that should play a role in the eventual bonsai. And with that done, I’ll let the leader grow to its heart’s content until late spring at least. I need the transition point to be smoother, meaning the original leader has to get at least twice as thick as it is now. Most maples grow very fast, so I should be able to accomplish a lot this year. Let me know what you think.