There are distinct phases in the bonsai year. Spring 2018 is just a memory now. But that’s okay. Summer is never dull. While you can’t do everything in summer you can in spring, I guarantee you’ll keep busy if you know what needs doing and how your individual trees will respond. Here are a few examples to consider.

I lifted this Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, in May. True to the species, it came back quickly and with great vigor. Within a month I had this design under way.

Crapes love summer. They grow fast and bloom like crazy from about July through August and even into September. If you’re developing a bonsai, the fast growth is just what you want.

Today I had to do some more trimming (that vigor thing, you know). While I was cleaning up the chop point and one of the earlier trunk chop points lower down on the tree, I happened to turn it. What did I see? I’m thinking a better front. What’s your preference?

This Hackberry, Celtis laevigata,came home in February. Spring brought some cool weather, so I’ve been patiently waiting for this and a lot of other specimens to kick into high growth gear. It finally paid off, and today looked like a good time to do an initial styling on it. The leader remains thin, so I’ll let it run wild for the remainder of the 2018 growing season. Next year, this tree should develop quickly.

You may remember this photo from March. This is a branch on a Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana. That big fat bud at the terminus is not a foliar bud – at least that’s what I thought at the time it set, namely last fall. I’ve never grown the species, so I wasn’t sure what I was looking at.

The buds are opening now. And they are definitely flowers! Pretty awesome.

I decided to advance my knowledge of this species the hard way, by slip-potting this specimen. Yes, the branches are way too long, but once the flowering is over I should be able to cut them back and reduce the profile of the tree.

I think I’ve got a nice literati bonsai to be, assuming it doesn’t object to the “out of season” potting.

Back in May I posed the question, “Is this a Catbird grape?” This was because of the leaf shape as the specimen recovered from collecting. I figured once the initial recovery growth settled down, I’d find out for sure.

It’s not a Catbird grape; it’s a Muscadine. You can see that very large leaf in the left of the photo. While the older leaves are of a very different shape, all of the growth now is quite round. So the scientific name, Vitis rotundifolia (“round leaf”), makes perfect sense.

I decided to slip-pot this specimen too.

Plus some wiring and trimming. You can see the connecting root of the two trunks, which I’d buried to protect it when I first lifted the specimen. It’s 3″ across at the base. This was the time to expose it. The pot is an exquisite handmade piece by Lary Howard.

I’m planning to keep this one for my personal collection. If you’d like a Muscadine let me know. There are plenty around here.

And that’s what I did today.

Let me know what you think.