Sunday, 1 November 2015

Building a Trunk

I bought this Trident Maple as a young sapling several years ago when I was still pretty new to the art of bonsai. At the time I expected to turn it into a small bonsai fairly quickly, but as you can see from the photo of its current state, it didn't work out that way.

Trident Maple in training - current state

From the start my tree seemed to have a mind of its own. Instead of growing upwards, it put most of its energy into a side branch which soon became too thick to be of any use. Had I known then what I know now, I'd have just left it to grow so that it would thicken up the lower trunk, and I'd have worried about developing the top later. However, as an impatient novice, I removed the branch, hoping that would help the top to grow.

Over the next few years, it did produce better top growth, but not where I wanted it, and my attempts at pruning only made it look worse. In the end I grew so frustrated with the mess I was making that I was tempted to put it on our club's raffle table and let somebody else continue the battle, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to part with it. Instead I decided to chop it back really hard and rebuild the trunk from the bottom up.

For the last couple of years I've been concentrating entirely on the trunk, which is finally starting to get a little shape though it's never going to be a particularly dramatic tree. I had hoped to let it grow unrestrained for another year, but was forced to repot it a few weeks ago (early spring) because another tree had planted itself in the same pot and I wanted to get that one out alive. Because I was repotting the tree, I decided to cut the trunk to the lowest upward growth - my proposed new leader. After that I left it to recover from its ordeal.

This week I noticed a lot of new growth and decided to remove some of the unwanted side branches. Once I'd done that I noticed that it now has two potential leaders, so it seems I have a choice to make. One of them has to go, but which one?

Before making my final decision I took the photo into Photoshop and created two virtual images based on my two options.

Trident Maple - virtual chop, option 1

This was the direction my tree seemed to be headed after the last chop. However the section after the first bend seems to be too long and straight.

Trident Maple - virtual chop, option 2

This is the new option that the tree has offered me and is the direction I will probably go.

Once I've made my decision and removed the unwanted part, I'll let the top grow long and thick for the rest of the summer, and will do minimal pruning if any.

With a bit of luck next summer I'll finally be able to start developing branches.

Linking up to Saturday Show Off and Nifty Thrifty Sunday.

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