As you know by now, we had an unexpectedly cold winter that included two snowfalls that accumulated (inches, which for us is unheard of) and temps of 15F on three separate occasions. For those of you up north, this is probably balmy spring weather, but down here the trees don’t like it a lot. Everything goes on the ground, of course, but there can still be problems.
I potted this nice little Crabapple, Malus sp., last summer. It did well and seemed fine going into winter. Due to the harshness of the winter it lost a couple of small branches, as well as the leader and a small section at the top of the tree. Is this a problem? You bet. Problems happen in bonsai, despite our best efforts. So what do you do? You fix them, of course.
Here’s another view of the tree. In this shot it’s easy to see the dead leader and branches down along the trunk. I need to unwire the tree, then remove the dead stuff, and then rebuild the design of the tree. You will eventually be faced with this same problem, on many occasions. But that’s okay. Designing bonsai is fun, and so is redesigning them.
In this photo the tree is unwired. You will be doing a lot of unwiring (if you use anodized aluminum wire). It’s tedious, but it’s a big part of bonsai.
Here I’ve removed all of the dead stuff, and chopped that dead section off the top of the tree.
What do you do next? You make that angle cut. It was good to see green at the base of the angle cut; that means the trunk is alive in that area. Will it die back more? There’s certainly that possibility. But allowing the leader to run will enhance the strength of that area, so for that reason plus the need to thicken the transition point I won’t do anything to it for months (if at all this season).
Here I’ve wired and positioned my new leader..
More wire, more positioning.
Here’s a closeup of the back of the tree. There are small shoots that I need to let run for a while. In time I’ll wire and position them, in order to fill out the design.
The final shot for today. There will be more changes to this tree as it grows back out, but for now it’s got a workable design. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

Let me know what you think of this tree.


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