Most of you probably remember this Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis. From humble beginnings it made its way humbly into a bonsai pot. At the time, I said it would either end up being great or terrible. The jury’s still out on that one, but today seemed like a good time to check in and find out what sort of progress the tree has made.

It grew like a weed, so it has that going for it. Notice that terminal leaf. It’s about the size of a small dinner plate. Fortunately, the species will grow smaller leaves if you keep it pinched.

Most of the moss is in tip-top summer shape, which is to say brown. I placed it originally to keep the moisture in the root zone, so the tree could get used to its bonsai home.

Here’s an interesting thing that happened during summer – the tree threw some nice roots at the base. Always a good sign (it wants to live!).

The first thing I did, after removing a good bit of the scorched moss, was to carve the dead wood. In the process I located and removed a few punky areas. Then I carved everything as smooth as I could for this round. It doesn’t look too bad, does it?

The last step for today was to put a little wire on a couple of the branches, and do a little trimming.

There’s no doubt this is not a great tree, and I’m not convinced it’ll ever be one. At the same time, I don’t think it’s terrible either. Next year it’s likely to grow fast, which means I’ll have to trim it often. I should also be able to finish out the rough design. With diligent pinching after that, I may end up with a decent Sycamore bonsai.

So what do you think? Is this progress? Leave me a comment below.