Creating a bonsai is a step by step process that goes roughly like this:

  • Select, buy or collect a piece of raw material
  • Prune away unneeded branches and excess trunk to create a single trunk line (for formal, informal, slanting, and cascade styles), wire and position branches; or, select and wire shoots and a leader of the purchased or collected specimen to create a branch structure and apex-in-training
  • Pot the tree into a bonsai container if it isn’t already in one
  • Continue development steps such as creating a tapering transition in the apex if needed, cutting back, shaping and ramifying branches, and working in the root zone to create a pleasing nebari
  • Make changes if and as needed to improve your bonsai

I collected this Parsley hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii, in January of 2016 and potted it directly into this Chuck Iker round. Because the tree has little taper, I planned to make a literati-style bonsai out of it. It responded by producing several buds along the trunk, certainly enough for the plan. I did some wiring on it, fed and watered it, but left it alone otherwise.











Here’s the tree today. You can see that my new leader emerged a couple of inches below the chop point. No real problem, you always have to work on the chop point anyway. Other than this, my other few branches are waiting to open up for spring.

As the months went on last year, I decided that I wasn’t happy with the pot. To be sure, literati bonsai are usually placed in relatively small pots. But this one just stopped seeming right to me.












The obvious first order of business was to eliminate the chop stub, and carve down what was left so that it tapered smoothly into the new leader. This looks much better. Now for a replacement pot.















I think this new Chuck Iker round better suits the tree. What do you think?

This year’s development work on this bonsai will be aimed at building the branch structure and building the apex. I plan to continue with the idea that this Parsley hawthorn will be a literati bonsai when all is said and done. And I think it’ll be a nice one.