I collected this Mayhaw, Crataegus aestivalus, on January 2nd of this year. It had some nice roots so I direct-potted it into this beautiful Chuck Iker round. Then waited. Hawthorns almost never disappoint, so when it got just warm enough for new material to begin waking up this was one of the first specimens to do so.
Here we are, about six weeks later, and now I’ve got some shoots to work with. You may be able to see that the shoots in the upper part of the tree are stronger than those lower down. This is natural for most species, simply because they want to get to a certain height. This programming doesn’t go away just because a bonsai artist shows up and wants them to behave differently.
From the beginning of the life of a collected deciduous bonsai, the artist must struggle against apical dominance. It starts with the new raw material and pretty much never stops. So you’re always encouraging the lower branches to get stronger and stay that way, while “cooling off” the upper branches.
You want to do the initial styling on your tree as soon as it makes sense to do so. With this specimen I had some time yet – but given that I also had some time today and there will be endless chores over the next several weeks, a quick styling on this one made sense to me.
I wired some primary branches and the new apex in about 10 minutes. I also pinched out the growing tips of a few of the higher shoots, to cool them off. I’ll let the lower shoots run for the next few weeks at least, to keep that energy in balance.
This tree will go up for sale most likely in May or June, so stay tuned for updates.