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Acer Campestre and Robinia – End of season 2017

Acer Campestre and Robinia – End of season 2017

I continue my journey of fall pruning with other two species besides Carpinus and Fagus trees, presented in the previous post. The time came to prune my Acer Campestre, or field maple and Robinia yamadori, all collected in spring 2017. These trees grew all year round quite well hopefully accumulating enough energy to push hard in 2018. This year I let them do their think and go as wild as they desired, being the first year after collection. As they went dormant, it is about time to prune them back hard, to start their structural design.

The first Field Maple pruned is in the images below, before and after pruning with an additional bird’s eye view to see the final canopy structure. It created many buds with very short internodes, and I hope that it will behave the same next year as well. As seen in the first image, all the branches grew strait, with no movement and a too high density of buds emerging from the same node. If not pruned, these buds will swell in spring and they will create in the branches thick nodes at their base. So, I considered important to start all over the entire structure, up to an extent of thick branches.

I cleared mostly the density of chaotic buds existing all over some branches by pruning back to old wood. Doing so, in 2018, as soon as they will start leafing out, I will wait till the new branches reach maturity and apply guide wires to give movement and place the new branches in the positions that I feel like it advantages canopy design.

In a bird’s eye view, one can see that the overall architecture of the new canopy is structurally in equilibrium around the tree, giving in the same time layers of the future growth.

Another maple that I pruned has a nice trunk that I liked from its beginnings but all the side branches were too strait with very long internodes. I gave it a lot of time to figure out what is the best way to obtain a nice canopy in the shortest period of time, but the only solution I found suitable was to prune back nearly all the branches to the main trunk and practically start from scratch the entire tree. Such operations, push back 3 to 4 years of development, but at least gives you the opportunity to renounce creating a bonsai on compromises.

So I did, I cut back drastically to the trunk. I left only some thin branches that I will take advantage of when creating the new canopy. I hope however that pruning so hard back will push out new buds and I will be careful in the spring, to leave only those to develop that are in the right positions. The rest of them, will be all removed as soon as they will be visible on the tree.

In the top view of the tree it can be seen that not much of the original structure remained. Also, when collecting this yamadori, it had a strange one-sided growing root system and this is the reason why it is placed in the contained so off center. I will repot the tree in 2019 Spring and then I will start removing from the length of the long one-sided root, trying to center the tree in the pot.

The second species that I pruned is the Robinia yamadori from my collection. This species in particular is quite tolerant to human intervention, responds well to pruning and to repotting. I let it grow wild all season to ensure a good root system in the pot as I have a special plan with this tree.

I pruned the right sided stubs and worked the cut to shape it close to a natural wound. I did not apply any healing paste to it because I want to let it dry out and die back at the surface. When pruning, I left on the tree only those branches that are in right position for the new canopy and in Spring 2018 I will change the angle of the trunk as exemplified in the picture below. For this I can do 2 things: either I do a parallel to the ground cut of the plastic container in this angle, either I repot the tree. If I will repot it, I will not remove all the soil, but I will remove only from the bottom and the top to be able to give it the proper angle, then I will move it back probably in a more flat container.

Another Robonia yamadori collected in Spring 2017 has a multi-trunk structure and had a quite vigorous growth this season. Only in one season, I think that its ceramic container is already full of roots as I had to cut many of them from the tray below the tree, spread out via the drainage holes.

During 2017, one of the trunks died and I was somehow glad it happened because this was facing directly the viewer from the considered front of the tree. I cut it back to an extent to leave a stub that I worked to look like a natural branch that broke. I also burned the wood and I am sure that in a few months especially after rain next year will age the stub it will look very natural. I tried to prune the tree in order to reach different layers and cut off all the branches that were growing directly to the inside of the canopy

In a top view of the tree, the three remaining trunks are very nicely distributed, somehow in an angle of 120 degrees, rounding upt the entire structure and advantaging it’s front view.

What I love most about Robinia species is that even small trees have this aged bark and even wounds or dead wood becomes fantastic when weather conditions influence their aspect in time. One important thing I would mention about Robinia is that they love direct sun and require a lot of water. During growing season, they can consume the water from the container on less than one day comparative to the other species that stay mois for 3 to 4 days.

Yamadori progression – spring to fall 2017

Yamadori progression – spring to fall 2017

In spring 2017 I collected an abundance of species from the surrounding of Cluj Napoca. Nearly all the collected material survived and some of them grew quite vigorously through the 2017 season.  I have lost an Oak, one Carpinus and one Field Maple. The remaining ones suffered some sunburn in mid August due to extremely high temperatures.

In the pictures below there is a huge Carpinus that I have found on a top of a rocky hill. After pruning it back heavily I was amazed by the structure of the tree. That was the moment when I decided that even if it is a big stub, I have to take it home, against my habit of orienting my developments in the region of shohin style. The pictures were taken just few minutes before starting to dig around it. Collecting the tree was a very time and effort consuming job to save as much root-ball as possible.

After potting the tree, it bud out quite slow. However, after it did, I applied a light dosage of fertilizer and it started to grow extremely fast and vigorously. The picture below was taken few days ago (October 2017). The tree was left to grow wild for the entire year to stabilize a new root-ball. It did and I know that because the drainage tray under it, in mid summer, was already full of feeder roots. I cut them back to motivate the tree to replace those with new ones inside the plastic pot that was placed into.

Another Carpinus collected in Spring 2017 is in the pictures below. This tree proved to be the most vigorous tree of all. Immediately after collecting and potting it, it started growing very vigorously. By end of spring, it had shoots with 5-10 leaves. Only because I realized that the tree is strong, I pushed the limits and pruned back the new shoots to two leaves. Normally, in the first year it is not recommended to do so because the tree needs the leaves to create sugars and carbohydrates to grow new roots and to prepare for winter dormancy. However, I new that this tree will be able to take a new pruning. It did, and now, in fall, it has new growth that is more than enough to prepare the tree for dormancy.

Still in the Carpinus Yamadori universe, I collected in Spring a shohin tree that was already “styled” by the sheep that feed with its leaves year after year. It has a nice short and quite thick trunk, movement in the branches and a dense ramification from thick to thin to thinnest. It grew very nicely over the spring and summer. In August however, it suffered sun burn, still visible in the last pictures. At that moment I thought that only the Sun was responsible for the burn. I know now as a fact that I had 50% of the quilt because I did not reduce the fertilizer quantity in the hot days. This made impossible the uptake of sufficient water by the roots to serve the transpiration at the leaves surface.

Still in Spring 2017, I collected two Fagus (Beech) Yamadori. Both are in the range of shohin stye with nice movement in the trunks and quite dense ramification. One of them (visible in the last picture) has a tendency of reverse taper. This did not stopped me to collect it. The plan is to work on the ramification of the tree for the next one or two years. In this time the tree will stabilize well in the pot and I will perform an airlayering in the area where the reverse taper stars. Using a thick copper wire around the cutting performed for the airlayer, I will promote a nice nebari that will complete the structure of the tree.

I am a fan of Acacia bonsai. I just love the trunks of Acacia trees how they look extremely aged due to the rugged bark. I collected a tree and potted it in a taller container as it had quite long thick roots. From the original structure (first picture) I had a die back of of one branch, and somehow I lost half of the canopy. At the moment I was disappointed. The problem was solved one evening when I tilted the tree and saw a new very nice angle that I was getting in this new position. So, when I will repot the tree, I will fix the new angle by the tree’s new position in shallow pot. I will probably repot this tree in the spring of 2019. The deadwood on the lower side of the trunk comes in addition to the tree’s overall value.

Walking the woods, I found a very nice Fern (Asplenium trichomanes) with small leaves. It already grows now for two years in this pot. I collected it with soil from around it, taking even some rocks and rotting leaves with this soil. It seems to be liking it in this pot. I keep the fern out of direct sunlight and I give it once in a while liquid fertilizer.

Starting spring I will continue such series with progression of these trees and also others that were not included in this post. Pruning, wiring, carving and repotting stories will continue the one I have started today.

Keep close!