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.