As spring gets cranked up and trees get more active, the pace of bonsai activities ramps up accordingly. Since the hawthorns seem to be waking up first, I decided to do some cleaning and planning for the coming season.
This Mayhaw, Crataegus aestivalus, has been in training for six years now. It’s the biggest hawthorn I’ve ever worked on, sporting a 4″ trunk base. It’s 29″ to the tip of the apex. The ramification is excellent, and should continue to improve this year. I have some work to do in the tapering transition where the original trunk chop was, but I can get that done in another couple of seasons.
Today I gave the trunk a good brushing with a wire brush. Mayhaws exfoliate their bark every two or three years, and it was time to get rid of the old stuff along with some mold. The tree looks much better as a result.
You may not have noticed in the first photo, but the lower left branch is actually a thread-graft. I began this graft in year two of training the tree, once I had a long-enough shoot to do the graft with. Since that time I’ve allowed the new branch to grow freely in order to thicken it up. This is how you get a thread-graft to take. What makes it work is the addition of layers of wood each growing season. Eventually, the new layers of wood no longer communicate with the base of the original shoot, instead sending nutrients down through the point where it connects to the trunk. Likewise, as the new layers of wood build successively, eventually the sapwood of the trunk where the thread-graft connects feeds the thread-grafted branch. While sap is likely still flowing through the original shoot, it’s no longer absolutely vital to the thread-grafted branch. It’s at this point that you can remove the original feeding shoot. A close view of my thread-graft has convinced me it can be removed now. I’m going to wait and do this once the new shoots begin pushing. I should know right away if I’ve waited long enough.
Here’s a shot of my big riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca. The trunk needed cleaning, but otherwise I’m just waiting for budburst which should come soon. This tree is in the refinement stage. I have to fill out the crown and work on the tapering transition some, and also do some work in the root zone. But all in all, I couldn’t be happier with it.
Finally, you may remember this new riverflat hawthorn I posted in January. I had cut the roots back so hard that some of you wondered if the tree could possibly survive on so little. Well, this trunk is exploding with buds now. So it looks like there wasn’t anything to worry about after all.