making bonsai lemonade – roughleaf dogwood

Sneak Peek

We all have trees that don’t grow as planned. This usually involves dieback. But sometimes you can make bonsai lemonade out of a lemon.

Making Bonsai Lemonade – Roughleaf Dogwood

I’ve written about this Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus Drummondii) before. Faced with the challenge of a deciduous tree with a lot of dead wood, you can either toss it or try to make something out of it. That’s right – you have a lemon, and sometimes you can make some bonsai lemonade out of it. There’s no guarantee if these efforts will work, mind you, but there’s also the possibility that you’ll have a unique bonsai on your bench.

This tree has a completely dead side. As you probably know, deadwood on a deciduous bonsai is a tricky thing. This is because most deciduous species have non-durable wood. Dogwood wood, however, is quite dense. When I tested the deadwood on this tree, it was really solid. I’ll treat with lime sulfur and keep an eye on it, and if needed I can apply PC Petrifier to it. But I may not need to.

The first step was to chop the leader. You probably noticed that in the above photo, this tree completely ignored the fact that half of itself was dead and grew a couple of feet of leader. There’s strength here, in other words, and the tree is trying to grow out of its own impairment. This is just the sort of thing you can use when you’re stirring up that lemonade.

Now I’ve completed the pruning for today. Not much left of this one, is there!

Not a problem, though. In bonsai, of course, less is more (except for ramification, naturally!) so I only need a very few branches to express a representative tree form. This is a design I think works well.

The only thing left to do to this specimen today is to treat the dead wood with lime sulfur. In Spring of 2022, I’ll move this tree to a bonsai pot so it can continue its journey.

Let me know what you think.