Fun’s On The Way Next Year With These “Two-fers”

I have a couple of specimens I acquired this year, one that I collected and the other that I bought from a fellow grower.  The first is a Swamp maple, Acer rubrum “Drumondii.”  Now, I have not yet in my bonsai career been able to crack the code when it comes to collecting this species.  The larger specimens (what I’m after) seem to do fine the first year or two following collection, but by year three they start rotting from the chop point.  Nothing I’ve ever tried has kept this from happening.  This year I tried yet another approach: leaving the specimen in as much of its native soil as possible, keeping as much of the trunk as possible, and doing absolutely no work whatsoever to it.  Here’s this tree at the end of year one:

I thought this was an interesting “two-fer,” two trees growing close to one another that seem to make a nice pair.  The small one didn’t get chopped at all, while I did shorten to large one.  Other than that, no wiring or otherwise messing with it.  And it sits in native soil.  Next year I’ll chop the smaller trunk back to about a third its size, putting it in nice scale with the larger one.  I expect to do some wiring and training.  Then in 2019 it’ll be time to transition from the native soil to bonsai soil.  I should know by then if the rot is going to attack this specimen.







In the meantime, here’s what I see in the future for this one.

Of course, the tree has to do its part and live.  I’ll post more on it if that comes to pass.











Here’s the second “two-fer” I’m looking forward to working on next year, a Bald cypress I acquired for another grower.  These two trees are also well matched.  The smaller one needs to be closer to the large one, plus the planting angle needs adjustment.  But I can go straight to a bonsai pot with them next year and do all of the training there.  So in spring, I begin work on the plan below.











This is what I’m seeing for these two trees.  I think it’s a pretty good plan.

Let me know what you think.

8 Replies to “Fun’s On The Way Next Year With These “Two-fers””

  1. tim

    I just finished my second season with a large red maple and the rot is starting. I gues ill just let it do its thing and work with what’s left ultimately. From the ashes a phoenix is born… Haha a little dramatic. I also put together a forest of smaller ones for my mother last year. Maybe I wont have the same problem with them.

    • Zach Smith Post author

      The small seedling seem to come through fine. And I have seen some larger specimens that rotted out and were turned into really terrific specimens. Reminiscent of the BC I sent you that you’re working on. My plan for that tree was to carve it down into the soil, mimicking what happens sometimes in nature.

  2. tim

    Yea the time has come for that tree to finally be carved all the way down. Its base on the carved side is pretty rotten and I’m out of options for hiding it. I love that tree so much and I’m worried ill screw it up due to my lack of experience. I’ll email some pics when I finally take the plunge.

  3. robert a gardner

    I really like your Swamp maples but I have always liked Maples. When you start working on them maybe just a small amount of curve to show some movement with both of them. As for the B.C. your
    plan will really work for them.
    As for grouped trees, I am working on a group of three trunk Paper Bark Maples. they are about three years old and around three feet tall.
    They have been bound together for one year and maybe another two to go, don’t really know how long it takes maples to grow together.?????

  4. robert a gardner

    Will B.C. grow in the climate of Washington State. We have cold and wet
    winters and sometime snow.
    Thanks for the help.


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