Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Tree with Dramatic Curves

I love visiting garden centres and scratching around to see if I can find any suitable bonsai material. I always visit the bonsai section, but prefer not to buy trees that somebody else has styled, so once I’ve seen what’s on offer, I usually move on to the regular trees and shrubs in the hope of finding raw material that I can style to my own taste.

The tree I’m discussing today is an indigenous South African tree, species Acacai Burkei (Black money thorn).  It was bought on a rare occasion when I broke my own rule about not buying ready-made bonsai. This one didn’t come from a garden centre though, it came from a supermarket. Although I wasn’t planning to buy anything, when I saw it I knew I had to have it.

This photo, taken on 13 December 2011, shows what it looked like when I bought it.


On close inspection, I soon realised that my tree wasn’t all it could be. That nice curvy trunk wasn’t being shown to its best advantage lying flat on the ground. On the advice of a bonsai friend I moved the tree into a bigger pot and gently pushed a small rock under the trunk to prop it up in the desired position.  I also wired a couple of branches to prevent everything from growing straight upwards. After that I left it to grow wild as its structure adapted to life at a strange new angle.


Then in December 2013, almost two years to the day since I bought the tree, I cut back a lot of new growth to reveal the beginnings of the structure I was after.


In April 2014, after another period of uncontrolled growth, the tree was in serious need of another pruning.


By this time the trunk had set at the desired angle and I was finally able to remove the rock. I also removed a low branch which was spoiling the design. Judging by the photo angle it appears I also had a temporary change of heart as to what was to be the front of the tree.


By January 2015 the tree had grown bigger than ever.


It was at this stage that I made the cut which will define the tree’s future, removing the straight part growing upwards and making the new trunk grow back over itself. I also reverted to my original choice of front.


This is how it looks now, in September 2015, after another haircut and a bit of wiring. The final structure is starting to show. It’s not ready to go back into a bonsai pot yet, but it’s getting there.






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