You may remember this Water Oak, Quercus nigra, from last summer. I slip-potted it at that time, as it had pushed a lot of growth and I knew the tree had plenty of roots to survive on.

But the story didn’t end there.

A couple of months later, I came to understand that the tree needed a drastic reduction. Here’s all that was left. There’s lesson on proportion here somewhere.

Yes, Water oaks have the interesting characteristic of holding a lot of their foliage through winter. Green foliage, too. so these leaves will persist until spring.

What’s wrong with this picture? Only subtle things. What’s the leader doing? Why is there an eye-poke branch near the prune point on the leader?

One piece of wire later, and both issues are resolved. I will let the leader run this year, which will thicken the whole thing up and make the transition smoother. I’ll also be able to build the crown of this tree, given how fast Water oaks grow. Stay tuned for updates later this year.

Continuing on with the “watery” theme, this Water-elm, Planera aquatica, was styled a few months back. It’s a good strong tree, but looking more closely there are a couple of obvious problems. Subtle problems, but something has to be done sooner rather than later.

For starters, that odd branch that I made into the leader following collection had a weird left-hand turn in it. Why in the world did I leave it on the tree? For the simple reason that I was hoping for new buds to appear on that very branch. Why? Because it would give me a leg up on building the new apex, since it was already about 1/8″ thick. Sure enough, I got two small shoots off that weird leader. It survived collecting.

The second problem on this tree is that original branch in back. Notice how it juts upward at an odd angle. It may not seem like a big deal, but just wait ….

So here’s what I did. The weird branch in the apex got pruned back. Now there’s a slender shoot that will grow out this year and continue the creation of the crown – which, by the way, will be mostly if not completely finished by the end of the season.

I also put some bigger gauge wire on that unruly branch in back, and simply pulled it down. See how much better it complements the positions of the other branches?

This tree will get a bonsai pot in spring. I predict that by the end of this year, it’ll be almost in showable condition.

Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment below.