Willowoak6-13-15I’m sure you’ll remember this willow oak, Quercus phellos, that I potted earlier this year. There are a number of developmental chores I’ve been working on: building the apex using the grow, clip and wire process; building taper into the tree’s branches in the same manner; and creating the secondary branching in areas ready for it.




Willowoak9-5-15-1Today the tree needed a good cleaning, and since it hadn’t been worked on in a few months there was a lot of growth that needed editing and redirecting. The first thing that jumps out at you is the new leader. It’s put on almost two feet of growth in two months!This tells me the tree is strong, so there should be no ill effects from doing some late summer pruning. The more rounds of work you can do on your trees each year, the faster they reach their final design.






In this closeup you can get an indication of the steps I’ve taken in building the apex from a trunk bud back in 2011. It’s not easy to see all of the directional changes, but there are five up to today. And now it’s time for a sixth!





The first step is to clip the old leader. You can see new new leader more easily now.







A quick bit of wire, and it’s going in the right direction.






Willowoak9-5-15-5I wired a couple of smaller branches in the upper part of the tree to get them going in the right direction, then did a final trim. In 2016, there are more vital steps in building this bonsai properly. One is to bring in the lowest right branch. The foliage mass should be relatively close to the trunk, in order to make the tree look believable. I’ll cut the branch back hard next spring, and from there should be able to develop the complete sub-branching structure I need in about two years.

The lowest left branch needs more thickening. I cut it back today, and will encourage a new shoot as far back on the branch as I can get. Just as I built the apex, by the grow, clip and wire process I’ll get this branch to the right size with the right movement and taper.

The final key step in completing the basic structure of this tree will occur next year, and it’s topping the tree and letting the crown fill out. I’ve gotten exactly what I needed in terms of building the taper and movement of the leader on this tree. I won’t let the new leader grow far next year, but rather I’ll stop that growth relatively early in spring. Then I’ll go about wiring and positioning branches in the crown. I should get a good bit of the growth I need in 2016.

Let me know what you think of this tree. Just leave a comment below.