Spring Work – Parsley Hawthorn

Spring is upon us, and that means a lot of things need to happen all at once and quickly.  This includes developmental work on trees collected in prior years.  The Parsley hawthorn below (Crataegus marshallii) is a case in point.

I treated this specimen as I do everything I collect.  The trunk was chopped straight across, at a point on the trunk where I could continue and enhance the taper in order to make the bonsai seem realistically like a larger mature tree once it’s finished.  These chops are all sealed when the tree is potted, by the way, regardless of species.








If you look more closely, you’ll see an additional development step I’ll be taking.  The leader made a fork for me, on its own, with a thicker longer side and a thinner shorter side.  The rule is pretty much always to cut to the thinner one, which produces more taper.  I’ll do that today along with the carving I have planned.




Also notice that during the original harvesting of the tree, there was an additional upright secondary trunk that was thicker than the one I retained.  I chopped it at the time of collection.  Notice that I left the so-called branch collar when I did this.  If you examine your larger trees, there’s some tissue that accumulates in  circles around the branches emerging from the trunk.  This is how the tree protects itself in the event it loses the branch.  The collar routes sap around the branch.  If you remove it when collecting a tree, you run the risk of dieback down the trunk at the spot where the collar was removed.

Did I succeed in preventing dieback?  There are shoots that emerged beneath the collar, so the answer is definitely yes.  That means I can safely remove the collar now.

Here I’ve removed the thicker fork of the leader.







Now, using my knob cutters, I’ve carved an angled transition area below the new leader.  You can also use a Dremel®, but I find the knob cutters work faster.








Always smooth the edges of your cut.  This helps keep the cut area healthy, plus when it starts rolling over the callus will be smooth and look natural.  I used a carving knife for this.  Again, I could have used a Dremel, but frankly the knife is easier to control when you’re making this precise a cut.






Same procedure here.  I used my knob cutters to nibble the collar down, then the carving knife to smooth the edge.  It should heal nicely.







And that’s all for today.  The tree will be allowed to grow without further work until later in the spring, when it’ll be time to remove the wire I put on last year.  I need more thickening in the leader, of course, but I can manage that process by letting it grow out and cutting it back two or three more times.  At some point, additional carving will be done to the angled cut I made today.  But that probably won’t happen until next year at least.

Let me know what you think about today’s work.




4 Replies to “Spring Work – Parsley Hawthorn”

  1. Terry Bryan

    Thanks for showing your technique and thought process with this collected tree. I have my Hornbeam that I purchased from you that will need to have some of the same work done. I to find the knob cutters work well for tapering the initial chop. Please keep posting your work, it is very helpful seeing the progressions.


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