Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Development of nursery maples

These are all Japanese maples, Acer palmatum, variety KIOHIME. They come from a very large regular garden tree nursery and were hand picked from a few thousand according to their usability for bonsai. Here one can see how this sort of material gets developed over a couple of years. Actually from outright nursery stuff one can develop a high class bonsai within five to ten years. Prerequisite is that you develop a very good eye to select your starter material. And then you have to learn the craft to deal with these. The fist is quite difficult but crucial, the second is rather easy and everybody should be able to learn it.

Case 1: Dug out of nursery ground in 2005, cut back ruthlessly with hedge pruners and planted into container right away. In November of 2006 WP works on this in a workshop environment to make the major first cuts.

The tree was then left alone and could grow freely. In October of 2008 it was cut back again. This time a bit more care was taken. The cuts went back to two or three buds mostly. In April of 2oo8 the tree was taken out of the plastic container and planted into a bonsai training pot.

In summer of 2009 and 2010 the tree got a serious haircut. All long new shoots were cut back to two or three buds. All superfluous shoots were removed completely. In December of 2010 the maple starts to look pretty good. It can go into a good bonsai pot in spring of 2011.

Case 2: this is from the same source. It was the best of the batch right from the start. Best in terms of impressive nebari and placement of subtrunks and branches. It was also dug out of a tree nursery in 2005, cut back ruthlessly with hedge pruners and planted into a box right away. In November of 2007 WP cut out big subtrunks which were not needed and set the form for the future. The trick here is to cut back much more than you like. The tree will look terrible after this first main styling. But it is crucial for the future development. It is not important what this looks like right now, it only counts what it will look like in five to ten years. let's see.

The tree cold grow freely then and was cut back ruthlessly in fall of 2007 again. In April of 2008 it started to look somewhat decent. The tree was taken out of the box and planted into a reasonable training pot.

In fall of 2009 and 2010 it was cut back ruthlessly again. In December of 2010 now one can see the result of this. Without foliage one can see all detail. Now is the time to do very detailed cuts. So far no wire was used. It was not necessary in this case, but one can well use wire as needed. Jim Doyle shows how he refines the tree during a demonstration. It is visible by now that this will be a great impressive bonsai in a few years. It could go into a good bonsai pot in spring of 2011 already.

Here one ca see some more of these maples. At Nature's Way Nursery in Harrisburg, Pa one can take part in workshops with this kind of material. They come as outright raw material or already after first styling.


Anonymous said...

You always seem to cut back much further than I would have, and your progress pictures show that you are right, and i am wrong.

This was my biggest mistake for many years, and one I still struggle with. A fear of making a mistake is the biggest mistake. Maybe i was always worried about killing the tree? I don't know.

-chris in Australia

Walter Pall said...

Chris, I suppose you were afraid of making the tree ugly and so you made it mediocre in the long run. Most amateurs are like this. I did this for twenty years becase nobody told me better. It is the most common mistake in develoment of trees.

Folks come to a workshop with a tree that they have developed proudly over twenty yerss. First thing is I tell them to cut off everything that grew in that time and much further. They should have done this right away when they started.

Tom Kruegl said...

A very helpful article. It really helps to be able to see in reality (pictures)what is being presented verbally.

Anonymous said...

Walter - Thanks for this series - it is very helpful as I work on the one I started with you back in December in PDX. Gives me a better idea of how to proceed.
I am planning on heavy feeding every 10 days or so, lots of watering and just letting it grow. I'll look forward to cutting it back ruthlessly again next Dec!
Questions - will it bud back much on older wood? Full sun unless very hot then some shade? Any other care suggestions?
Thank you!

Christian said...

The key here is 'handpicked from several thousand'. 99% of nursery trees do not have such a nice low graft and branching, but are grafted 12 inches up with branches even higher. I've yet find one even close to this at a commercial nursery and I live in PA two hours from Nature's Way. That said, I LOVE this post and wish it were much easier to find such material (without looking over 1000 trees)

Walter Pall said...

"Questions - will it bud back much on older wood? Full sun unless very hot then some shade? Any other care suggestions?"

It will bud back on old wood. Full sun, lots of water, lots of feeding with nitrogene, lots of organic, anything that smells.

Bonsai Training said...

This pictures explain about training of bonsai plant. I think this is the perfect way for gain bonsai knowledge. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

I love the results Walter! Should every tree be developed in this manner? Cut back,let grow,cut back again and so on? Thanks!

Walter Pall said...

Well, basically yes.

Anonymous said...

Walter - the dates you give are a little confusing. I gather that you waited about 1 yr after pulling it out of the ground and getting it to a flat/box, then cut back annually in the fall till you've gotten them to the current state? Thanks for the additional information.