With spring growth soon to give way to summer growth or doldrums, depending on the species, today it was time to work on a few trees. The first was this Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, that I collected this past winter. It got an initial styling last month, and it’s now grown out sufficiently to get a trimming.
This work goes quickly. All that’s really necessary is to take your shears and trim everything that points up or down (unless you’re leaving a shoot pointing upward to thicken a branch), and then to shape the branch into a rounded triangular form. In the case of this tree, it only took about five minutes.
My second victim was this Parsley-leaf hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii. This tree has grown a little slowly for my taste, but I know it’s because I potted the bare trunk directly into this nice Chuck Iker round. Patience has paid off, though. Today I had a few nice shoots and a leader I could work with.
I only had a few lengths of wire to put on this tree, so the work was done in about 10 minutes total which included trimming away what I knew I wasn’t going to need.
It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but I need to chop the trunk again near the new leader. This is not the time to perform this step, as the tree is not yet sufficiently rooted to stand that sort of manhandling. Not to mention the fact that cutting in the vicinity of the small shoot I wired upright would be risky. I’ll let it continue to grow out, which should thicken it nicely by this coming fall. Then next spring I can whack away.
Last but not least is my late friend Allen Gautreau’s live oak, Quercus virginiana. I really like posting this photo because it helps dispel the idea that live oaks are slow-growing trees. This is absolutely not the case. Once a live oak gets established, it can put on several feet of growth in a single season. Here you can see I’ve got some shoots approaching two feet. Not too shabby, eh?
An established bonsai requires more care when you’re giving it a haircut than trees still in development. Unless you’re restyling the tree, you must take time to selectively remove new growth that has no business being part of your finished work. So you want to look for crossing branches, branches growing toward the middle of the tree, and of course those that point straight up or down. In about 10 minutes I was able to clean up the appearance of this fine old bonsai.