Back in January I collected four large live oaks, Quercus virginiana, from a good bonsai friend’s property. Collectible live oaks are not that plentiful where I live, despite the fact that we have some of the most magnificent old specimens anywhere. Given the opportunity to have a few pieces to work with, I couldn’t say no. It took them a while to come out, but three of the four survived.

Liveoak5-14-16-1This is the smallest of the three live oaks I now have to work on. The trunk base is 3″ above the root crown, and it was chopped at 5.5″. My plan for this tree is simple: the traditional broom-form live oak style. This design has a few variations. In the one I’m attempting here, the trunk forks very close to the ground, say 8-10′ up, having two and often more sub-trunks. The sub-trunks are relatively lengthy compared to the basal trunk, branching off into sub-sub trunks and so on. Eventually you get to the foliage. Some of the sub-sub trunks or their finer divisions droop downward, and often actually lie on the ground. If you’ve ever seen one, you know how extraordinary a sight they are.

The first, and only order of business for today, was to wire and introduce some movement into a few sub-trunks. They obviously have a lot more growing to do, meaning benign neglect, but I need to make sure they don’t get too stiff and unworkable.

Liveoak5-14-16-2And here we are. A little wiring, a little shaping, a little trimming. I’m already getting shoots in the leaf axils that will produce the sub-sub trunks I’ll need in the next phase of training. For now, though, it’s food and water and sun.