“Dragon” the Water-elm put on a lot of growth last year, as you can see in this photo where I can’t get it all in the frame. I left it to grow without any restraint last year because the branches need to gain heft. But there does come a point where you have to prune to encourage more growth – plus you can see the apical leader is very close to being just right once I carve out the shari into it.


There comes a point in the life of most bonsai where you can put away the wire and just use “grow and clip” to achieve your design plan. I’m pretty much there with this tree. I used wire to set the direction of the new branches and leader that grew out starting last year. Once those were established, I got all the back-budding I needed to enable me to select secondary branches. Going forward, all I need to do is select those new shoots pointing where I want them.


Here’s something different. A couple of years ago I collected this Muscadine, Vitus rotundifolia, which is our native grape here in the South (and elsewhere; it ranges up to Delaware). I liked the twists of the “trunk,” so I figured what the heck?

Yesterday I decided it was time to do something with this Muscadine – after all, it had gone to all the trouble of growing like vines grow and seemed not to mind container life. So I grabbed a suitable pot and went to work.


This Chuck Iker round has a nice dark glossy glaze, which I think complements the bark color very well. I trimmed back the tendrils, so now it’s time to just wait and see what happens next. I’ve never grown Muscadine, but love exploring new and unusual species. Grape bonsai are not commonly grown, but there are nice examples out there.

I’ve been sharing with you the progress of this Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, since I got a wild hair and dug it up earlier this year. So far it’s been one of those crazy fun projects. I have no idea if it’s going to make a good bonsai, but I’m sure going to give it my best shot.


And I swear I had no plans to go out and get any more Sycamores, but one day I noticed that one growing near the back of my property had fallen over. I assume this happened in a recent storm, but frankly it didn’t make sense to me. When I examined the tree, it was clear that either I needed to finish taking it out of the ground or it was a goner. So I figured what the heck?


Here’s what came out of the ground, minus most of the trunk and the bulk of the foliage.


And potted up. I’m pretty confident it’s going to live – I don’t know that you can kill Sycamore – but given how short a tree this is, making something like a bonsai out of it should be an even bigger challenge than the first one.