How To See A Bonsai In Your Material

How often have you sat staring at a pre-bonsai specimen, wondering what the heck to do with it?  You’re certainly not alone.  Even seasoned pros sometimes have to study at length before the design becomes apparent.  I always counsel that the trunk of your tree is where everything begins.  Is it stout, or feminine, or hunky, or gnarly, or curvy?  There’s infinite variety out there, and it’s a sure bet that along the way trees will catch your eye that produce an immediate “Ah ha!” kind of reaction.  As you get more experienced making bonsai, it does get easier to see the bonsai in any given piece of material.  You never get past being stumped on occasion; but it’s really nice when you know just what to do.

This is one of those cases where “Ah ha!” happened pretty quickly for me.  As I studied the tree, I just saw a spreading bonsai that was less tall that it was wide.  “Low-slung” came to mind.  And for this sort of tree, you need a shallow tray to pot it in.  I happened to have this Shawn Bokeno oval on the shelf, and it was just the right size.

Speaking of size, can you tell how big this tree and pot are?  Well, the tree is only about 12″ tall from the soil surface.  The pot is 6″ wide and only 1″ tall.  Isn’t that something?

So, in case you were having some difficulty seeing where this tree might be going, here’s a better way to view it.  You can’t see in this photo that the base of the trunk emerges from the soil in a curve that continue on up into the trunk.  When you see angles like these, you’ll also see the harmony that either exists on its own or that you can create or enhance.  In this case, I’ll be using wire to enhance the curviness of the trunk and major branches.

Now the unneeded branches have been trimmed.  It’s easier to see in this photo what the ultimate design is going to be.  As you gain experience making bonsai, you’ll be able to see these designs almost immediately in your material.  Then it’s just a matter of cutting away the stuff you don’t need and wiring the rest.

 

 

Now the wire is on, and the shape of this bonsai-in-the-making is just about done.

 

 

 

 

 

Potted and given its finished shape (for today).  The long branch on the right can stand a bit of trimming, and this will happen as the tree recovers from today’s work.  But the important thing to take from this sequence of photos is the process of going from raw material to potted tree.  I “saw” this design as I studied the raw material.  The important thing about this is it only left me with some training techniques to perform.  Ultimately, when we make bonsai our job is to spot the design in the material and bring it to fruition.  It’s not always easy and it doesn’t always happen on the first go-round.  But with time and practice, that happens more and more frequently.

Let me know what you think of this neat bonsai-to-be.

Bonsai Forestry – How To Make A Cedar Elm Group Better

I collected these Cedar elms with the idea in mind of making a forest planting with them.  I had two pots of them, and figured on being able to make a five-tree forest.  Ultimately I decided they were better suited to making two three-tree groups.  So I ended up with this composition as one of those bonsai-to-be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All this is is the basic composition of the bonsai.  What does that mean?  With group plantings, the selection and placement of trees is extremely important.  Spacing, trunk movement, trunk height, location of foliage, all of these factors go into making a believable forest.  And when you’re working with only a few trees, each one becomes that much more important.

The first stage of making a bonsai out of these trees was completed with the planting itself.  I could have wired the trees in advance of potting them up, but I knew their locations in the pot would dictate, at least in part, where the branches ended up going (and which branches I utilized).  So I didn’t worry about any detailed styling at this point.

The next step came not too long after the one above.  With a first round of wiring, the forest begins to come into focus.  Now they’re not just trees with random growth.  There’s planning that will lead to a naturalistic appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-forward about five weeks and here’s the current state of development.  You can probably guess I left the composition alone.  It has food, and the sun and water happened pretty much on its own (the latter since it’s rained every day for several weeks now).  The trees are strong, and now it’s time for the next step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some trimming and wiring was all it took to continue the progress of this bonsai.  Note that these trees were lifted from the ground on April 22nd.  They had budded in a week, pushed a lot of growth by early July, and quickly became a small forest shortly thereafter.  A month later I had a nice branch set on all of the trees, ramification on some, and the need to trim off excess growth.  Not bad for such a compressed timeframe.

I don’t expect to do any more trimming on this tree for the remainder of the growing season.  That time is now past.  I will keep a close watch on the wire, as the coming fall will see biting on these trees and lots of others.  Next spring, my design for this group will be well set, and I should be limited to grow and clip for detailed work.

If this forest bonsai speaks to you, it’s available at our Cedar Elm Bonsai page.  I think it’s going to be an outstanding bonsai in just a couple of years.

The Start Of A Superb Crabapple Bonsai-To-Be

A bonsai friend in Pennsylvania sent me some Crabapples, Malus species, earlier this year.  I’ve been having a great time with them.  The first round of specimens included this one, which I had planned to keep for myself.

This tree has a great trunk – taper, movement, character, and beneath the soil are great radial roots.  It’s 2.5″ at the base, and I chopped the taller side at 14″.  So it’s destined to be a bonsai that really makes a statement.

When I was first preparing the tree for its nursery container, I was undecided which fork of the trunk to keep.  What I ended up doing was keeping some of both.  Hey, you can always cut off an unneeded leader down the road, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I had in early July.  The tree budded well and produced enough shoots to make for a design.  So that’s just what I decided to do with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was studying the tree in order to decide where the design needed to go, I once again had to consider that shorter thicker fork.  Given the shoots that had arisen, taking off that fork would have left me with a real design challenge.  But leaving it … now that presented a much more interesting prospect.  Why?  Well, if you’re familiar with how apple trees grow, they don’t present a typical upright form.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with this in the wonderful world of bonsai.  But in the case of this tree sitting in front of me, I had the opportunity to make the tree look more like an apple tree than it might otherwise.  You can see the result here.

 

 

Here we are two weeks later.  In order to encourage backbudding along the shoots I’d wired out, I moved the tree into full sun.  You can do this in summer with trees that have a good soil mass; in this case it’s the nursery container.  For trees in bonsai pots, full sun in summer can really cook the ceramics and that in turn cooks the fine roots that tend to migrate to the edges of the pot.  Death of those roots stresses the bonsai, and if bad enough can even kill it.

 

Where’s the best front on this tree?  I’ve turned it a bit in this shot.  Both angles have a lot going for them.  Luckily, it’s a decision I don’t have to make right now.

Oh, one more thing about this tree.  Notice the first right-hand branch?  Well, when this tree first budded out it had zero buds on the right side of the tree.  It did have a low back branch, and that enabled me to wire and position it in such a way that I’ve filled in the silhouette very nicely.  Bonsai is an illusion, after all.

Look for this tree to be available sometime in the next four or five weeks.

Oh, in case you wondered why I’m not keeping this specimen for myself, here’s why.

Isn’t this an awesome Crabapple?

Let me know what you think about either or both of these trees.  I’d love to hear from you.

The Wonderful Cedar Elm, And A Lesson On How To Gauge Success

Cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia, is one of the very best species for bonsai and especially for beginners.  They are “sturdy” trees, not being bothered by much in the way of pests and diseases.  They’ll take a good bit of abuse and neglect without objection.  They grow fast which allows for rapid development.  And they put on a nice rough bark at a fairly young age.

This past April I made a trip to Cedar elm country, having been invited by an old and dear bonsai friend to collect some specimens from his parents’ property.  To be sure, a January trip would have been better suited to lifting these trees, but it just couldn’t happen till April.  I figured that if any species could stand up to being collected out of season, Cedar elm would be one of them.  So I jumped at the chance.

A week after I’d gotten the trees home and potted up, they were all showing buds.  I’d collected just under 20, including a handful of larger ones, a handful of smaller ones and a handful of in-betweens.  Now, I’m generally leery of trees that pop buds a week after being collected, but there wasn’t anything to do about it so I just waited and watched.  Within four or five weeks, all of them had put on shoots ranging from an inch or so up to about six inches long.  I was encouraged, but I knew not to get too far ahead of myself.  And sure enough, they all stopped pushing new buds.

This is an important phenomenon to understand when you collect deciduous trees.  Usually you won’t have any fine roots on a tree collected from the wild.  This is all right – in fact, I’m convinced after 30 years doing it that it’s not even desirable.  Within a couple of weeks after collection or at budburst in spring if you collect in the dead of winter, your tree will produce trunk buds from stored food.  These buds will grow into shoots that will push anywhere from a few inches up to perhaps a foot in length.  At this point most species will pause their growth, and this pause is for a very important reason: it’s time for the tree to make new roots.  This is absolutely the critical point in the collecting process.  The tree has expended all of its stored energy making foliage to produce food plus, equally importantly, the hormone auxin which stimulates adventitious root growth.  If this process succeeds, new roots are made.  If it fails, the tree dies.

This is one of the in-between size Cedar elms I collected.  Nice trunk with some good character and starting to bark up.  As with the others, it pushed new growth over the first four or five weeks on the bench.  Then it stopped growing, as the others had.  It just sat there for at least a week or two, and did nothing.  Then one day when I was checking on things I noticed some tender new growth starting up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the tree today.  I photographed it from this angle in order to show you one of the key ways you can gauge your success with certain collected species.  Notice the color of the growing tips?  When you get strong growth on certain species, and Cedar elm is one of them, the growing tips produce a considerable amount of anthocyanins along with chlorophyll.  Anthocyanins are what give you the red and purple colors of fall foliage, and they play an antioxidant role in both foliage and fruit (think bluberries, cherries, etc.).  This may be why the plant produces more anthocyanins when it’s recovering from collection, but I’m not certain.  One thing I do know, it’s a way to gauge the success of your collecting effort with Cedar elm.  The initial shoots I got were just green; they were produced by stored food.  When the second round kicked in, I got the reddish color, larger leaves and stronger shoots.  I knew the tree was growing roots at this point.

Unsurprisingly, the smallest trees I collected produced roots first.  I’d potted two sets of three each, with the idea of making group plantings out of them.  Here’s one of the sets.  Nice variation of trunk size, nice trunk movement, nice taper, and the beginnings of bark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two months after collection, here’s this little group today.  The shoots are strong, with many well over a foot long.  And I could tell by wiggling them in the pot that they’d put on a nice volume of roots.  So I decided I’d take a chance and see if I could make something out of them.

 

 

 

 

 

First a trim.  It’s likely I’ll have to remove some root in order to get the group into a pot, so taking off some foliage will maintain the balance.  Looking at these trees, can you tell which is the main tree and where the others need to go?

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I came up with.  I think it’s a wonderful composition.  The primitive square pot is by Chuck Iker, and the color I think goes really well with the planting.  Once the group gets established and resumes growth, I’ll do some wiring and branch positioning.  But not today.

Notice that I’ve wired the three trunks together near the bottom to keep them stable while the roots grow together.  This is a trick you’ll need to employ sooner or later.

I plan to post this group planting for sale in a few weeks, assuming I didn’t cause any trouble today.  Given the good root development, I’m confident these trees will respond very well to their new home.

I’d love to hear what you think about this bonsai-to-be.

Bald Cypress In July – How To Speed Up Development

Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, is one of the best species for bonsai and one I believe every beginner should have.  They grow very fast, even in a small container.  And the fast growth makes them quicker to train to showable condition.

This specimen was collected in February of 2015.  I began its training that year, with an initial round of wiring.  In 2016 I made the year-two cut at the chop point (more on that below), and did another round of wiring.  This past spring I potted the tree in its first bonsai pot, a training piece made by Bryon Myrick.

So here’s the tree on July 3rd, all full of disorganized growth.  I have intentionally not done any trimming on this tree in 2017, just allowing it to regain its strength from the spring potting.  And it’s done that just fine.

A Bald cypress that’s growing strong and is well-established can be defoliated in early July.  This does a few things for you: one, it eliminates what is often a good bit of shaggy and/or discolored foliage; two, it allows you to remove wire and rewire as needed, along with guiding the branch growth you want; and three, it allows you to prompt another strong flush of fresh foliage that will carry into fall and produce a nice show when the trees nears dormancy.

Here’s my Bald cypress, bald.  I stripped all of the foliage off, which took less than 10 minutes, by holding the branchlets and simply running my hand outward along each one.  You’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

With the foliage gone, it’s easy to see how the tree grew – mostly how it wanted to, to be precise.  I had wired most of the branches and positioned them last year.  Because BC are apically dominant, it’s taken a full year for some of the wires in the lower parts of the tree to actually begin to bind.

 

 

 

 

 

The next stage of “BC in July” is to trim away everything that doesn’t serve a purpose.  This means bringing in the silhouette, removing inner shoots, removing upward-growing and downward-growing shoots, and removing unneeded extra shoots (there are always plenty of these).

Notice that I left some extra shoots in the crown of the tree.  Their purpose is to help thicken the new leader, which was grown beginning in 2015 and cut back hard in 2016.  I’m letting yet another new leader grow out, but keeping shoots growing out of the original base where they are so they can continue growing to thicken up the transition point.

 

 

 

For those of you who have gotten my BC development guide, this is an actual illustration of what the year three stage looks like.  The callus is rolling over nice and smooth.  Notice the “shelf” of wood at the top, whose purpose is to prevent the callus from rolling over too powerfully at the transition point and producing a reverse taper.  Next year I’ll be able to carve the shelf off and allow the rolling callus to continue filling in the chop.  In about another three or four years this wound should be completely sealed over.

 

 

 

Shifting gears, this cypress was collected in February of this year and placed directly in this Chuck Iker pot.  It recovered slowly, mainly because it was suddenly living in a shallow pot.  (I do like to push the envelope, and usually get away with it.)

This tree is not in a strong enough condition to defoliate.  I really never do this is the first year after collecting a tree.  In 2018, I’ll be able to defoliate this one.  But for this year, I leave it alone and let it continue to gain strength.  I’ve got a good design going, and next year it’s going to get better.

I think I’m going to call this bonsai “Wading Bird.”  The dead snag on the left has a beak-looking dead branchlet right at the top.  I plan to create a jin at the apex of the living trunk to mirror this branchlet.  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, here’s another BC I’m training as a flat-top.  As with the previous one, this is not the time to defoliate as the tree is growing out from having been collected in February.  So I’m going to limit my work at this time to a light trimming.  Next year it’ll be time to work on jins, and continue the development of the branch and crown structure.  I’ll probably also pot it up in the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a light trim.  Looks great, doesn’t it?

The Humble Crape Myrtles Are Pretty Happy

Bonsai is high art, but it’s also a learning process.  You and your trees, cooperating to make something that’s more than the sum of its parts.  You’ll learn something on every tree that comes into your care.  And not just the big collected specimens that are all gnarly and old and beat up by life.

When we last left the saga of this small Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, it had responded beautifully to being wired and placed in a bonsai pot.  Within mere days it had started pushing new buds, which quickly became shoots.  I was particularly interested in the two lower-trunk shoots.  Why?  Because strong shoots get thick very fast, and everything “downstream” of those shoots gets thicker as they do.  In the case of this tree, I had a great opportunity to get thickening of the lower trunk.

 

 

 

Here’s where we are today.  You can see that there’s rampant growth all over the tree.  What’s more, those two shoots on the lower trunk are really taking off.  You know what this means.  I’m going to get a thicker trunk, which is just what a good bonsai can always use.

Now, it’s important to consider one other thing now that we’ve got all this nice growth, namely, I don’t want to do any pruning at all for a while.  Why?  Because strong growth thickens everything “downstream” of it.  So not only will I get a thicker lower trunk on this specimen, I’m going to get a thicker specimen period.  Ideally, I want the trunk base on this tree to be at least 1″ in diameter.  I think I can get this in a growing season, meaning between now and next summer.  So for now I just let this guy grow, and plan to remove wire when it binds and perhaps do some fall trimming in the upper part of the tree.

I wired and potted this tree a couple of weeks ago.  It’s finally sprouted some new buds, and these are growing quickly into shoots.  But notice a couple of things.  One, I don’t seem to have any buds near the base of the tree.  And two, there are no new buds anywhere on the branches I wired when I first styled the tree.  What does this mean?

One thing that will become apparent as you work on more and more trees is that they don’t always grow exactly the same as one another.  In this case I have two white-flowering Crapes.  They were grown from cuttings taken from the same tree, and grown the same way.  The initial styling was very similar.  But they’ve responded quite differently.  Why?

I don’t know, and that’s the best answer I have.  In a way it’s good.  Though you never see two bonsai that are exactly alike, you do see rough similarities and the fact is we want our bonsai to be unique art forms.  From a development perspective, I’ll have the challenge of thickening the lower trunk on this specimen and in the end it may not happen as I want.  But that’s okay.  When you’ve been doing bonsai for a long time, you learn to go with what your trees give you and to make that work.  We can only force things so much.

I solved today’s problem by simply cutting back the slim branches I’d wired and positioned last time.  They may produce buds now; they may not.  I’ll adjust the next development step accordingly.

 

 

I Just About Killed This One, But It Taught Me A Good Lesson

Who can forget this image?  Back In March I lifted this Live oak, Quercus virginiana, from my growing bed with the intention of putting it directly into a bonsai pot.  The tree had a nice structure with a good set of branches that would allow me to create a bonsai-to-be right off the bat.  What could go wrong?

Well, I got some comments back regarding how hard I’d cut the roots.  The word “Ouch” was even used.  But this is what I had to work with.

 

 

 

What you can’t see from this angle is that the roots were even worse than they appear here.  When primary trees are first establishing themselves, they produce really big roots in order to both stabilize themselves as well as to provide a pathway for nutrients to flow to the tree.  This is how they survive and prosper.  For reasons I can’t explain, they don’t consider the needs of bonsai artists as they grow.  And that’s why we have large cutting tools.

So I ended up with the specimen above.  It fit nicely in its bonsai pot, so my next move was just to wait.

 

 

 

Here’s the result, by the way, of all that digging and chopping and potting and wiring.  I think it’s really easy to see the bonsai here.

At this point I need to interject a fact about my bonsai experience.  I’ve never worked with field-grown Live oak before, only collected specimens.  Collected specimens are treated very similarly – lift, root-prune, top-chop.  We almost always don’t have any foliage left, but that’s okay since it all sprouts out from the collected trunk and any branches we might happen to have retained.

In this case you can see I have a nice bit of foliage.  Since this was a Live oak and since it was March, I figured there’d be no harm in leaving all the foliage on the tree.  Foliage can help stimulate root growth.

March is also that time of year when Live oaks drop their foliage and put on a whole new set.  If you’ll look closely, you can see that while most of the leaves on this tree are darker green meaning they’re hardened off, there’s also a good bit of light green fresh foliage.  Keep that in mind.

Within a week or so, my Live oak root-whack-job looked about like this.  There was a total of about six small fresh green leaves still on the tree.  Everything else had browned and fallen off.  I wasn’t sure why those green leaves hung on, but I have no problem ignoring trees when it’s in their best interest (more often than you might imagine).

The rest of March passed.  All of April passed.  All of May passed.  I personally passed by this tree daily, looking at it and shaking my head.  Finally the remaining few leaves were starting to blacken on the tips.  My awesome extreme Live oak root-pruning lesson was evidently a failure.

Then, about two weeks ago, I was passing by my failed experiment and something caught my eye.  In the space between two of the four remaining leaves with a little green on them appeared to be a swelling bud.  My thought was, “You gotta be kidding.”  I went and got a magnifying glass.  When I looked closer, not only did I see that I was right, I happened to spot another larger bud on a branch higher up in the tree.  Amazing!  Had I failed to kill this tree after all?

Here’s the tree today.  As you can see, it’s produced buds all over and the new growth is starting to push.  What’s more, every branch that I’d wired initially to make the design came through the whacking I gave the roots.  So at the end of the day, even though I’ll probably never cut roots back quite as far as I did this time I think I’ve proven you can cut them back a lot farther than you think.

I’d love to hear any comments you might have.

 

 

My Tropics Dream – The Tropicals Will Have To Do For Now

Well, it’s officially summer and if we ever get out of this rainy pattern it’s going to heat up and the spring breeze will be O-ver.  This means we get tropical temperatures without any of the other benefits of the tropics.  No white sand, no crystal clear blue-green water, no ocean breeze.  What can you do?

Last year I got a cutting from a Green island ficus, Ficus microcarpa, owned by the elder statesman of our local bonsai club.  I had admired the tree for years, but never tried my hand at it because keeping tropicals in a non-tropical environment was not something I was prepared to do.  But I finally got the urge.  I love the appearance of Green island ficus.  The leaves are bright green, small, glossy, and round with a slightly pointed tip.  Here’s my first Green island ficus bonsai-in-the-making.

It’s not much to look at, but considering where it began I’m happy with it.  In a bonsai pot it isn’t going to grow very quickly or with as much vigor as it would in a larger nursery container, but I’m not in a huge hurry with it.

This past winter I learned something about this species that just amazed and excited me.  Each time we were threatened with a freeze I brought it inside and set it on my desk.  Typically it would stay in for a week or so before going back out.  But each time I brought it in, I noticed that it kept on growing.  The species is not a super fast grower, but it seems to grow some all the time.

So now I had an indoor bonsai species to work with and enjoy.  How could I say no?  This one has been such a pleasure that I made my mind up to venture into a few other indoor species – Willow-leaf ficus, Portulacaria afra (Dwarf jade or Elephant bush), and Bougainvillea.  It’ll be at least next year before I have some of these species for sale, but I’m sure enjoying the development process.

In the meantime, I went ahead and picked up a few Green island stock plants so I could offer a few for sale.  These came out of Florida, where they’re grown en masse for landscape planting.  The pots are by Chuck Iker.

The trunk base on this one is 1.25″ and it’s 8″ tall.  It came with a few aerial roots, which hopefully will come through the transplanting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one has a 1″ trunk base and is 6″ tall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think is my favorite of the three.  The trunk base 1.25″ and it’s 7″ tall.  The pot really makes this composition.

I anticipate these guys will resume growing in a week or two, and will be able to ship out in about a month.  If you’re interested, simply go to our Ficus Bonsai page.

Crape Myrtles From Humble Beginnings

Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, is one the very best species for bonsai.  They take to pot culture very well, root like gangbusters and flower freely in captivity.

In the world of bonsai, you’ll encounter Crape myrtles of many varieties, sizes and stages of development.  For example, here’s a tree that has been in training for over 25 years.

I’ve been posting on this tree over the past several months because it had reached a point where it was overgrown and had to be “rebuilt.”  It got a hard-pruning and repotting, and has responded with renewed vigor.  Now it’s on to building ramification.  It’s about to bloom also, and I plan to let it do so (it’s a classic purple).  The tree is strong.

 

 

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I included this Crape in a post about trees I’m working on for sale (this one has white flowers).  Even though it’s not a large specimen, the design is classic Crape myrtle.  And the key, as with most bonsai, is in the proportions.  The branch spread that I’ve established must be maintained in order for the tree to look larger than it is.  Now, shoots are going to shoot and that’s a good thing.  But my job will be to chase all of that growth I’m going to get back in toward the proper silhouette.

 

 

 

And wouldn’t you know, in just a couple of weeks this Crape is really going at it.  There are new shoots all over the tree, including two near the base.  Do you know what that means?  That means I have a way to induce trunk thickening by encouraging sacrifice branches near the base.  I’ll most likely put a little wire on each of them, in a week or two, in order to gently guide them into a growing space that allows them to ultimately run free and long.  By later in this growing season, I’d predict they’ll be two to three feet long.  And everything below them will get thicker as a result.

This specimen is a bit larger than the one above, and the design is going to be different, but the plan is the same.  Within a couple of weeks I should have buds all over the tree, including some near the base.  I’ll encourage those to grow, as in the tree above, which will allow me to thicken the trunk base of this tree through the use of sacrifice branches.

It’s important to remember that regardless of the size pot you grow your trees in, basal thickening will be a slower prospect than if the tree were grown in the ground.  If you do limit yourself to container growing, however, there are techniques that can help you somewhat overcome the limitations.

Stay tuned for progress reports on these Crape myrtle bonsai-to-be.

A Few New Bonsai I’m Working On

I collected this Parsley hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii, in February.  Though it was a decent piece of material, I knew there were quite a few years ahead of it in order for it to become a presentable bonsai.  Then a thought occurred to me.  That nice slender trunk emerging from near the base had a ton more character than the relatively straight main trunk.  Wouldn’t that make a much better bonsai, and much sooner to boot?

 

 

 

 

Here’s the tree just recently.  Allowing for all those shoots growing out, I’ve made just a few minor snips.  Can you see where I cut back?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut back the three branches on the slender trunk, and then simply removed the thicker trunk altogether.  Does this tree make a statement now?  I think it does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been making Edible figs, Ficus carica, practically since I got the parent tree from my mother.  One I started about five years ago was a twin-trunk.  I put it in the ground about three years ago.  This year I decided to separate the smaller of the two trunks and pot into a bonsai pot.  It’s a pretty nice starter bonsai, don’t you think?  The trunk is 1″ in diameter and it’s 14″ tall.  And it will fruit in a pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m very fond of Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, as bonsai.  Not only are they horticulturally simple to grow, they bloom profusely in a bonsai pot.  This is a white-blooming variety that I made from a cutting last year.  I was able to wire a nice Crape myrtle shape into it and go right into this Chuck Iker round.  It’s 14″ tall.  I would expect it to resume growth in a couple of weeks, and it just might go ahead and bloom this summer.  Time will tell.

I’ll be posting these trees for sale sometime this summer.  Stay tuned.