Trident “SUMO” Fusion

Trident “SUMO” Fusion TR-#01

This is a Trident Fusion I started some 22 years ago with 50 x 2yo whips from Ray Nesci in Sydney by mail order. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, and had never seen or heard of the process….. but for some reason the idea came to me, and I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t use any ‘form’ to wrap the whips at all…… just anchored a small tallish plastic nursery pot to some ply wood, and roughly started placing them around the pot, gradually tied them together with hesian thread which I knew would rot away after time and not cut into the bark. Once I had all 50 tied up I detached the plastic pot from the plywood base, and planted the whole thing into a large plastic nursery tub and let it grow mad for a few years trying to maintain some sort of shape to the image in my head for the final tree. About 5 winters later, I pulled it out of the tub and gave it a good prune…. rearranged some roots, removed the plastic pot from inside the trunk and repotted it back into the same tub. The whips were fusing together quite well.

I have no photos of the project up to this point much to my disgrace, as at the time, really didn’t document my hobby at all…. just did it, and enjoyed it. Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’d never seen anything to compare it to…. so fast forward to 1996, when we moved from down south to sub tropical Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, onto 5 glorious acres, rich with deep red volcanic soil…. Now for the first time in my Bonsai life was I able to ground grow bonsai material. It went into the ground and over the past 15 years have styled it in the ground as a triple trunk about 1200 mm tall and 800mm wide with branching starting about 150mm up from the ground.

It was a pretty big bonsai then, and due to long term back pain thought i’d never be able to dig it up, and get it into a bonsai pot. The roots hadn’t been touched in all that time. Well last winter, I bit the bullet and heavily pruned the tree back to a smaller single trunk “SUMO” style formal upright that you see here. Branches are yet to be formed , but I am very happy with the taper and overall health of the tree after its severe root prune. There was next to zero fibrous roots so I just scraped the bark underneath the large roots to encourage new ones.

 Trident “SUMO” Fusion commenced around 1990.
This is the tree after about 12 years in the ground after previously being in a large 300mm diameter nursery pot since its beginning.
This pic taken August 23rd 2011
I made a grow box from 4 inch Kwila hardwood decking boards measuring 22”x 18”x 4”deep

Trident #1-23:8:11

Trident #1b-23_8_11sml


This is how the tree looks today. I am in 2 minds about this tree now I can see it from all angles every day. I am starting to like the back of the tree better as the nebari looks much more impressive IMO….. but the chop near the apex is my only hesitation. With some more concaving of this wound, it will grow over well and I should be able to hide it when the apex ramification kicks in. I’m letting some branches grow freely to use as thread grafts down the track…… so far so good. Through summer it has suffered the dreaded Trident “Mystery” disease/ issue with deformed and burnt leaves, but I have come to discover that when the tree grows freely and has heaps of big healthy leaves….. the problem seems to abate. It seems that when you reduce the amount of Photosynthesis it returns again ? ? Anyway I’m not as panicked about it as I used to be as it seems ALL my tridents have had it at some point through the season, including ones in the ground…. and they are growing along happily some now 8-10 meters tall.

The one thing I do remember when I did this experiment all those years back was….. I don’t recall my initial grouping of the whips to be particularly “NEAT” in its arrangement. I definitely remember there being considerable gaps between the whips at the base of the project…. anywhere from 5-10mm. I know I tied off the area where I wanted the apex to be, and the whips were tight and snug, but I also tied off about midway up the tree to pull its waist in so to speak…. but I know there were gaps and spaces everywhere. In my ignorance, I guess I was giving the whips room to fill out, and fill out they certainly did. Once in this rich soil this thing took off, and the rest is in the result.

Trident Fusion_new front

Trident Fusion5

Vertical grafted shoot laid into a carved channel which has it’s own side shoots which will hopefully become 6-8 individual branches of there own which I can select from in the future.

Trident inarch graft2

May 16th 2012

inarch graft 1_16:5:12

Another approach graft.

inarch graft 2_16:5:12

inarch graft 3_16:5:12

Graft area September 26th 2012…. these will be allowed free growth for most of the season.

Fusion Maple 1- graft area

Sept.26th 2012…New Front will be this side rotated clockwise a 1/4 turn.

Fusion Maple 1-front

Back View

Fusion Maple 1-back

One month later… October 27th 2012,  fertilized weekly with 1/2 strength Nitrosol

Trident Fusion 27-10-12

Mid February,2013

Light prune to redirect vigour to lower branches.



September 20th 2013 UPDATE
This tree looked great in this last pic, but a couple of weeks after the light prune, it was smashed with the Trident Maple leaf curl curse and went downhill fast. Foliage turned to shit, and was a massive struggle to regain its health and vigor and to get it through our long hot summer. Regular sprays with Confidor seemed the only remedy for this affliction, and most of my other tridents suffered the same way. I was sure glad to see the end of summer I can tell you. So far this Spring I have about a 50/50 ratio of trees already showing signs of it AGAIN….. Anyway, the good news is this one has leafed out beautifully so fingers crossed I can get a lot further with its program this season.
Apologies for the bad pics…. it is far too heavy to lift into softer light so there is not much I can show thats different from the last pics, and i missed getting pics when it was out of leaf in Winter, and now there is so much new growth its hard to see any detail of the whip grafts progress. I can however tell you that it has doubled in thickness, and didn’t fuse to the trunk as good as I had hoped, so did some work on that back in late winter and reattached in a couple of spots. It has done the job though, and i now have multiple branch options on that side of the tree where it has been shy to throw a bud, so glad I did it at the time. The opposite side has a couple of bare spots which will end up with some more grafting from other donor branches, but for now I’m just content to let this one be for a while and fully regain health and vigor.
I may just let it grow untouched this season…….???
Front....plenty of healthy growth on hand THANK GOD!

Front….plenty of healthy growth on hand THANK GOD!

BACK....Bare area in the center was where a successful thread graft had died off when the tree was hit hard last summer with the "Curse" I have a few 2yo seedlings on hand to redo the thread graft.

BACK….Bare area in the center was where a successful thread graft had died off when the tree was hit hard last summer with the “Curse” I have a few 2yo seedlings on hand to redo the thread graft.

More branches needed here.

More branches needed here.

Approach graft branch. Initial one failed due to the size of the channel carved to receive the shoot. Too shallow, and the branch out grew it before it was able to graft itself.

Approach graft branch. Initial one failed due to the size of the channel carved to receive the shoot. Too shallow, and the branch out grew it before it was able to graft itself.




3 thoughts on “Trident “SUMO” Fusion

  1. This is the only really great one I have seen in this technique that looked this good. The others were of course from Doug Phillips whom I used to go to his house in the Bay area many years ago till he moved away. He had the greatist workshops at his house, with BBQ and all the trimmings.

    Nice work here.

    • That’s a great compliment Al….thank you.
      I only discovered Doug’s website about a year ago, and was impressed with his techniques. I have looked back recently but it seems his site hasn’t been updated for a while. I’d love to see his work again. This is the only fusion project I have done with the Trident, but started one with a Ficus variety late last year which should be a nice one in years to come.

  2. That is the fitting weblog for anybody who desires to find out about this topic. You realize so much its virtually laborious to argue with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You positively put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

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