TR-11 Spider Trident Base Cut 29/6/12

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.

This is what it looked like in the ground

This is what it looked like in the ground

This was the result!

This was the result!

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.

Out with the chainsaw!

Out with the chainsaw!

Everything completely gone

Everything completely gone

Cuts cleaned and ready for planting

Cuts cleaned and ready for planting

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.

Restyle of an old fig

January 2nd 2013

I’ve had this little tree for over 20 years. Urban Yamadori, growing out of a sandstone wall down near Sydney harbour. There was about 4-5ft of growth on it so only God knows it’s true age. I ran a hand saw down the wall to remove it and it was without a single root, but having base cut figs before, I new it would sprout a whole new root system anyway. Over the next 20 odd years I managed to regrow all new branching and was relatively happy with the tree, except for a few nagging imperfections……
fast forward to 2013
This year, the more I looked at the tree, the more I new I had to fix what was bugging me all these years.
I finally got up the courage to do what I’ve thought necessary for this tree for a long time…. serious restyle
It had put on a nice amount of growth since Aug 2010, but as usual (due to incorrect growing techniques) totally my own doing ….. all the new growth was on the ends of the branches and very little back budding. All this has created over the 20+ years of training since collected, is numerous cases of reverse taper along the trunk and some primary branches. I have looked at this tree over and over trying to evaluate the best places to prune back to in order to save the lowest 2 primary branches, but they to were flawed in that the lowest left branch was way to thick for the ‘optimum’ reduced height, and the second primary on the right had bad taper issues. So after a deep breath, it all had to go.
I know I have a long road ahead now, but the tree will finally have proper taper and branch placement from the get go….. It’s very healthy and should bud back with mucho gusto…… well hopefully.

PortJacksonFig2-Aug-2010

December 2012

December 2012

January 2nd 2013

January 2nd 2013

Serious chops I know, but the tree had numerous flaws along the trunk line such as reverse taper, and upper branches with too much thickness. Some sections of trunk also were too straight and lacked branching and there was no ideal place to prune back to, except here. I debated for a few minutes about leaving the first left primary branch, but decided it too must go, leaving a nice chunky base for me to build on.

26/2/13

We have liftoff!!!!!

New shoots a plenty… The beginnings of our new design.

Healthy new shoots

Healthy new shoots

Ficus Surperba var. henneana

Here is a new fig which my beloved family purchased for me for Christmas. It is a Ficus Superba, somewhere between 25 and 30 years old, and a completely new variety of ficus for me. In my part of the world it is semi deciduous as well. The new foliage comes through this deep coppery brown with a super shiny leaf. Styling was going to start with a serious chop of all trunks, but after defoliation decided to work with them and create a ‘Banyan” style tree.

ficus

ficus-3

Styled 25/12/12

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New foliage….spectacular colour.

new foliage

In full leaf 20/1/13

The turnbuckle will be removed now I see the tree photographed. I think it is now way too low.

Ficus_Surperba-20:1:13  The pot is only a temporary one , as to really show it in the Banyan style, it should be in a shallow wide tray, which will hopefully encourage a mass of aerial roots, such as the beautiful example below ……

11Fubanyanphoto courtesy www.bonsaihunk.us

After studying the last photo, I decided to remove the turnbuckle from the branch on the RHS as it looked out of balance.

Turnbuckle removed

Turnbuckle removed

UPDATE December 8th 2013
This ficus is growing like crazy and I finally found a better pot for my future vision for this tree. I feel it would really suit the Banyan Style, and a low, wide rectangular pot was needed.
As you can see the roots are climbing out of the existing pot, so with the temps really hotting up here, it is great timing for a repot.
Ficus Superba close up

Positioned lower in this new pot.

Positioned lower in this new pot.

Aug 2012 Trident #23

Almost at the end of this winter dig…. If its taught me anything, it would be to take a bigger interest in shohin.
That turntable its sitting on is the 400mm size Good amount of feeder roots very close to the trunk, thank goodness, as this base will just fit my grow boxes.
 TR-23
I have a real issue with bonsai that have bad nebari, and still have a couple of less than good ones in my collection, so when I planted these in the ground 15 years ago, I did a fair bit of root work on these for the first few years to get them growing properly to start with. It’s a really slow process but I think it will make better bonsai in the long run. I’m very happy with the nebari on this one…. lovely root flare and very even radial roots. Just need to develop the smaller secondary roots and so on. It’s 3rd trunk chop was last year, and all of the previous chop scars have completely healed over, so it’s super smooth. Normally I pre select one dominant shoot from the chop and remove all the others so I get maximum energy into it to help get the taper under way. I also used to do all my trunk chops on an angle, but for a change did this one straight across, and left ALL the shoots to grow. This has left me with a good healthy engine room, nice stack of branches to get things rolling. I will probably lower the first right hand branch to horizontal, and build the upper part of the tree as a broad dome topped maple.

Juniper tray planting

October 2012
Here is a tray planting I’ve been putting off for many years, and finally the planets aligned and I got into it 2 days ago.
I’ve had this piece of Mallee root for a very long time…. purchased it off Dot Koreshoff probably 20+ yrs ago, maybe more. I had initially intended to plant a few little figs on it, but never followed through with it. Then thought maybe a couple of small Shimpaku or similar…. Then thought of a single tree……Finding the right stock plant was the biggest problem, but eventually found this one from Chris @ Red Dragon a couple of months ago. Beautiful stock!
The tree is not planted on the root or in any crevices, but positioned right up against it and attached at the back with small brads and the roots growing down into the soil mix as usual. Since moving up here, I’ve not had much success keeping rock plantings (where roots are completely encased in muck only….and not down into a good amount of soil in the pot) due to our pretty hot summers and hot drying winds. They just dried out far too quick and I could never keep up with the watering (up to 6 times a day) and lost every one I attempted, so I’ve gone for this method which should work out fine. Maybe it could be classified as Tanuki or a Phoenix Graft if we’re to get super technical, but I’m happy with the term Tray planting.Mallee Root….this piece of wood is literally hard as a rock. It’s been out in the weather the entire time I’ve had it without a drop of preservative applied, and it has not decayed a bit.

Mallee root 11” x 11”

photo1_2012-09-26

Before styling

before-7

Front view

JapaneseJuniperTrayplanting-front-26912

Rear view

JapaneseJuniperTrayplanting-back-26912

UPDATE Pics

January 2013

January 2013

November 4th 2013

November 4th 2013

Trident #07

Some sad news to report on this maple…..
About 6 weeks ago all its foliage shrivelled and died, and not a single new shoot or bud appeared.
I tried numerous things to see if it would bounce back but to no avail. I thought it may have had an issue with the roots, so I pulled it out of the pot and it had lost practically every root to Curl Grub, which devastated and killed 2 of my oldest elms last Spring. This maple had copped it bad, not only with the loss of its root system, but I also noticed a couple of areas of bark that looked sus, and so I picked at it with a scalpel and large sheets literally came of in my hands. It had also been hit with some kind of borer or weavel. I have a large Murraya hedge which gets hit with Murraya Borer…. a real mongrel of a thing. Anyway, this potentially very good maple which had over 15 years of pre work put in, is now dead. I’ve never lost a maple this way before, and I had high hopes for this one. I have plenty more to play with, but I get upset if I loose an 1/8” thick cutting, let alone something like this. 😦
TR_07_15:3:13 TR_07_weavel bug TR-07-3:13
TR_07_weavel bug
TR-07-3:13
RIP #07
24-6-12
Trident Maple #07 lifted today. 14” tall with 7-8” base, and root spread 13”. One of 30 (4yo) maples I planted 15years ago, and over the years have grown and trunk chopped numerous times to achieve this taper. Second pic shows good feeder roots close to the trunk from plunging the spade around the roots every couple of years. There was also a few roots up to a couple of inches thick going straight down unfortunately….

photo1_2012-06-24

Nice healthy feeder roots….. just what we need.

photo3_2012-06-24

After an overnight soaking in a tub of seasol I managed to shoe horn it into it’s training pot. Inside diameter of the pot is 16 inches. Still deciding on this trees true front?

tri-007b

Swamp Cypress restyle

This swampy was the smallest tree in a large 3 tree group I had 5 or 6 years ago. The 2 bigger trees are now 6mt high in the ground now….. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t pulled this setting apart, but who knows why we do certain things. Anyway, this tree is an extremely vigorous grower, and is constantly putting out new foliage, and no matter how much pinching or pruning I do, I loose all the finer branching and just end up with long primary branches with zero taper and very little if any secondary branching.
With what I’ve learnt over the past 12 months or so from the expertise of other fellow bonsai artists, I hope to rebuild this tree to a much higher level. First pic is the tree last summer. Last pic from today….. clean trunk, restyle, repot, new pot, now we wait!

January 2012

Swampy_10-1-12

Restyled and repotted 18-7-12

Swampyformalupright_RP_8712_2

Update pic coming soon!

January 20th 2013

January 20th 2013 leafed out.

January 20th 2013 leafed out.

January 10th 2014

Time for a change of pot for this one. I have always felt it needed to be in a rectangular pot but haven’t managed to find one that would suit, until now. Straight forward root prune…. it was repotted same time last year, into the round red clay pot so there wasn’t a ton of root to be removed. The new pot will give the tree some more leg room to bulk up a bit more.

After potting but still yet to get a light prune.

After potting but still yet to get a light prune.

Forgot to get a pic after the light prune, so here is a quick virt to give an idea of how it finished up. I’ll replace this with a proper pic when I get a chance.

light prune virt.

light prune virt.