A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on using vines for bonsai. In it, we began the tale of a neat Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, that I collected on my property and started working on. It wasn’t long before I was able to report this progress.
Isn’t this a wonderfully “bonsai-y” designed Trumpet vine? I mean, you’ve got a nice curvy trunk that tapers because I was able to cut to a smaller leader. You’ve got the shoots you need to make a branch set. All that’s needed from this point is to let the thing grow and then make pruning decisions. And then pot the new bonsai in a suitable pot the next spring.
Well, this Trumpet vine had other ideas, as you can see from this photo I just took today. That new leader decided not to live. The branches made out of shoots did grow out, but then some of them died off. But the vine hung in there. I wasn’t sure what it was going to do this year, then I noticed some buds pushing. It’s alive!
Clearly this vine is going to decide for me what it’s going to end up being, regardless of my ideas. I have found this to be true as often as not in my years in bonsai. I suspect you will, too. The trees you work on will sometimes, despite your best efforts, not behave in the way you want them to. At which point you can either get angry or frustrated, or learn to go with the flow. We usually have a design in mind for our trees. When this design plan doesn’t work out, I’ve usually found it best just to go with the flow and see what else I can do. In this case, I pulled the vine from its (deep) pot, uncovered the rest of the original trunk, cut off the roots growing above that spot, and ended up making a literati bonsai-to-be.
Is the Trumpet vine going to go along with my new plan? Well, I don’t know but if it comes through today’s man-handling I’ll post an update. Who knows, I might just end up with a neat bonsai.