I showed you this Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, earlier in the season. I collected it in Winter 2016 and direct-potted it into this nice Byron Myrick oval. Because it had a complete trunk, nice movement and taper into the apex where I knew I could grow a crown in no time, there was no reason not to go straight to a bonsai pot.
So here it is, all flush with new growth. Time to do the initial styling before the branches get too stiff (privet branches get way too stiff to bend if you don’t catch them while they’re young and tender).
It’s best to work from bottom to top when you’re styling your trees. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it does make branch selection and placement easier.
My first step was to clear unneeded growth, once I had selected my first two branches. Since I want to wire branches in pairs, whenever possible, I work my way up the tree picking branches two at a time. This helps tremendously.
Now the first two branches are wired and positioned. There are two benefits in doing this: one, the branches are where they need to be based on the intended design; and two, with these branches in position it’s easier for me to select and envision the positions of the next two branches.
Two more branches are wired now, a back branch and one coming toward the viewer. Regarding the latter, you need branches that move into the viewing zone, however, these are typically not found until you get more than halfway up the tree. Remember, you want the first third to half of your trunk to be visible to the viewer. At that point, you want foliage crossing the trunk. A front-pointing branch is one way to make this happen. In my privet, I’ve got a branch in just the right spot to make this happen.
Now the next two branches are wired. Both of these are in the back of the tree. This helps with the illusion of depth. Bonsai are three-dimensional objects, so without branches emerging all around the tree you run the risk of destroying the illusion you’re trying to create.
After a little more editing and wiring, the finished result. This tree now has its basic structure in place. The next step is to let it continue growing, which will thicken the branches and start the ramification process. I’ll need to remove the wire in about two to three weeks, then wire again for the summer growing season. By fall, this will be a presentable Chinese privet bonsai.
The trunk base of this tree is 1.5″. Finished height should be about 16″.
This tree is available at our Chinese privet bonsai page.