2017 February Deciduous – Taming the Tree

Over 40 BSV Members ventured out on a warm February evening for an engrossing discussion by Craig W. about taming deciduous trees. Craig started bonsai in 1981 and was able to share his passion, knowledge and wide experience in developing deciduous bonsai; and along the way, he was able to share the wisdom he has achieved from studying and working on these trees over many years.

p1190199
European Hornbeam and Trident Maple

A selection of Craig’s comments are included below:

  • Craig believes that growing your own trees from seed or cuttings is preferable to nursery stock and the problems they can bring.  You always know what is under the ground!
  • For, deciduous trees the focus should be on getting them to look their best in winter when their ramification is on display.
  • Defoliate to get better ramification – reduced leaf size will follow.  Partial is preferred.
  • Japanese Maples are one of the most difficult species to get fine ramification.
  • Make sure light continues to reach into the branches.
  • Defoliation is useless unless the follow up steps are applied.
  • Desert Ash are almost indestructible.  Cut and grow slowly.  Let them start spring with a romp and then cut back to the first set of leaves.  Follow up by pinching out the tips.  Maybe a complete defoliation in December.  Avoid dynamic lifter but they love blood and bone.
  • As bonsai grow older, they need more work so consider the size of your collection.
  • Native trees are hard work to maintain.
  • Corky Bark Elms should have branches growing up at an angle with the angle getting higher as you get closer to the top.  Not aware of any reason to defoliate elms.  Craig prefers to propagate from root cuttings to get good movement and the bark comes quicker.  Let them have a real romp in spring and then hit them hard.
  • Trident Maples are best grown from cuttings – better radial roots.  Let them romp when spring growth starts then cut back and start pinching.  If they are not growing, maybe there is not enough feeding?
  • If you are developing ramification, avoid letting the shoots run as they can easily destroy the ramification.
  • Maintain the two, two , two, etc branch and twig structure.
  • Cut back to “fine”.  If fine growth occurs on a branch, cut back to here to develop movement and taper.
  • Repot at the beginning of spring so roots can start growing straight away.  Local climate conditions may support other alternatives.
Chinese Elm after much romping in the garden!
Chinese Elm after much romping in the garden!

 

Chinese Elm with a few minor adjustments!!
Chinese Elm with a few minor adjustments!!

 

Victor thanks Craig
Victor thanks Craig

 

A selection of trees on display are shown below.

Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtle
Stoe Plum
Stoe Plum
NZ Christmas Tree (Rata)
NZ Christmas Tree (Rata)
Purple Birch
Purple Birch
Trident Maple
Trident Maple
Trident Maple Group
Trident Maple Group
Tea Tree Group
Tea Tree Group