Here is something I consider to be an experiment of sorts…..
TR-11 started out like a dozen or so other tridents I put in the ground about 5 or 6 yrs ago, and due to the orientation of the grow bed, and some bad gardening habits, this tree ended up having a great deal of top soil being washed away from its root base creating what I nicknamed the Spider maple. I had neglected the beds for quite a while due to work commitments and lack of interest, if I were to be 100% honest….. it was just a time when about 2/3 of my collection (the majority of which were older than my now grown children) was decimated by a plague of beetles attracted to a huge native tree we had here and I just lost all interest there for a while. Anyway, that’s a whole nother story…..My interest has returned full bore as of 2 years ago thank goodness….now back to the Spider Maple. It had received a third trunk chop in its development and for some reason the cut was infected by God knows what and it created ugly over callousing, rot and it looked hideous. Any foliage it grew was affected by leaf curl, spider mites, and anything else that was going by. Well last Winter while doing my biggest dig to date, it was time to get to lifting this one and seeing just what lay beneath the surface.
When I planted all my tridents, they were on top of 1/2” plywood base boards, which gave this one its nice flare, but it decomposed a while back by the absence of anything below it except air! A year earlier, I must have run a sharp spade around all the roots anticipating its lift but it only shot new roots from the new cut points which were a good 5-6ins from the base, plus the shape of the roots looked like the only way it could be saved was to plant it atop a bowling ball!!!!! Had I exercised some patience, I would have done a ground layer at the appropriate points on each root and replanted it in a grow box and be done with it, and reap the rewards a year or so down the track.
Then it dawned on me…. why not try something I’d never done before…… base cut a trident….!!!!! I’d done it with figs but that’s the only species that I knew would tolerate that degree of punishment. So for those who may not know….Base cutting is making a cut right through the base of the tree, removing ALL the roots and preparing the area for new roots to emerge…. If this tree survived this abuse then it deserved to become a future bonsai I would be proud of.
I chamfered ALL around the base with a new scalpel blade and painted the area with rooting homone, and planted the tree straight into an open substrate, and into my new hot house, and crossed my fingers, toes and anything else I could find.
As of today, January 28th 2013, it LIVES believe it or not! It put out new shoots about September / October, and looked to be off and running, but was hit with Leaf Curl and Thrips and some fungal disease as well, which set it back no end. Amazingly, it is still hanging on and is fighting off all that comes at it with the help of endless sprays and tonics. It looks pretty crook, but I’ll post some up to date pics as soon as this mini tornado stops flogging our part of the world.