Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

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Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:24 pm

Hello All,
This is my first post on here although I have been looking in and lurking around for a while so I hope a request for advice isn't too cheeky.
I've been into Bonsai most of my life but never been any good at it or taken it too seriously. But I have had some of my trees now for 15 years or more and now have time to spend on putting them into some sort of shape.

I have some trees which I cut back pretty hard last year and now want to repot and start styling. I am in the UK and repotting time is almost upon us here.

This is the first tree, it's a Maple which is about 12-14 years old and has been in the same pot for probably 8 or 10 years. It is currently about 24inches or 60 cms tall.



You will see from the weep marks on the trunks that I cut it at the wrong time but it did recover well and put out new growth. I cut it's size down by over half but now wish I had gone further. I am thinking about cutting the three branches off just to leave the thick trunk. That will leave me about 10 to 12 inches. Will I get away with that AND repotting at the same time or would that be pushing my luck? Should I just repot and then think about further height reduction in a couple of years.
Any advice appreciated and thanks in advance.

Ian.
Lancaster, County town of Lancashire, North West England, UK.

These are the other trees I need advice on, a Mugo Pine and a Hawthorn, but I will make seperate posts for them in a day or two.





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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:23 pm

That left-hand, fat branch is too straight and too long. I'd suggest you shorten it more, then work on deeloping a canopy. You might even shorten the right hand branch a bit, but not as much.


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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  DreadyKGB on Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:35 pm

Hey Grumpy,
For the maple I see a trunk line like this. It provides better taper and does away with the two branches that have little character.



It is a bit drastic I know. I also think a repot would be of benefit(8-10 years is too long for a maple), maybe a wooden grow box, then feed heavily.

Todd

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Oliver Muscio on Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:12 pm

Here's a second vote for Todd's suggestion; his cuts are exactly what I envisioned as I looked at the tree.
Oliver

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Guest on Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:20 pm

Hello Ian. I also agree with Todd. This cutback will work very well.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Dave Martin on Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:26 pm

I agree with both of the above.
I suspect if the tree has not been re-potted that the roots are going to be coiled round and round snake like, you will need to get them spread out. A large wooden box about 6 inches in depth or better still a shallow polystyrene fish box (be prepared for a lot of root growth) will assist greatly.

Two good maple books are Bonsai Design Japanese Maples and Bonsai with Japanese Maples both by Peter Adams. They have all the answers to your questions. The first is now out of print you may find a copy but the other is available publisher Timber Press .

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:54 pm

Thanks for the replies,
I really like both ideas, thanks, but as I was hoping for further height reduction I am veering towards the second one. I never thought about leaving the centre branch as the main one, I was thinking of chopping off all three, but it works really well.
I have to admit 8-10 years is too long but this was never really intended as a Bonsai, it was just growing in it's pot outside the house being neglected. There are two actually but I'm fairly happy with what I did to the other one. I have pictures I took before the initial chop. If I can find the files I will add one.
Sometime in the next three or four weeks I will do the work on the tree and post a new picture.

Thanks again to you all,
Ian.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Zach Smith on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:27 pm

DreadyKGB wrote:Hey Grumpy,
For the maple I see a trunk line like this. It provides better taper and does away with the two branches that have little character.



It is a bit drastic I know. I also think a repot would be of benefit(8-10 years is too long for a maple), maybe a wooden grow box, then feed heavily.

Todd
I agree with this approach with one minor exception: cut back the new leader a bit harder. This is a relatively straight section of trunk and as a result the viewer loses interest as the eye travels. As a general rule of thumb, in situations like this I measure a length about three times the trunk diameter at the beginning of the section which is too straight or lacks sufficient taper or character and cut there, then grow my new leader from that point.

Nice piece of material, in any event. Best of luck with it!

Zach

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RE..Maple

Post  moyogijohn on Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:49 pm

That will make a good tree my opion...how tall will the trunk be with Jim,s idea?? also cutting it back hard with just the one trunk?? you will be growing branches either way...i have one like that too waiting for spring...take care john

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:33 pm

With the first idea I will be left with a height of about 24inches. That's a bit too tall for my own personal liking. The second idea will take it to about 15 inches or so which will do me nicely.
I've been wanting to do it this weekend but there have been very hard frosts over the last few days so I'll wait another week or two.
Not sure what to put it in though. I like cat litter trays as training pots, they're a good size and deep enough usually but I'm wondering if this should go in something just slightly larger.

Ian.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Dave Martin on Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:22 pm


The black plastic mesh pond planters are a good idea the roots will air prune themselves when they grow through, but the polystyrene fish box which can normally be obtained FREE (just our price) from your local supermarket fish counter is a very good option.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:43 pm

Dave Martin wrote:
The black plastic mesh pond planters are a good idea the roots will air prune themselves when they grow through, but the polystyrene fish box which can normally be obtained FREE (just our price) from your local supermarket fish counter is a very good option.

Aha, I work for Asda so I will ask the fish guy tomorrow. Aren't those boxes a bit ugly though? I haven't found those books you reccomended yet, I've looked on the library website but nothing there. They'll turn up somewhere though.
Thanks.
Ian.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  Dave Martin on Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:23 am

As the tree will be in a prolonged training phase looks do not really matter, what does is the health and the development of the tree. The fish boxes I am thinking of are about 6 inches deep x 15 inches x 10inches. drill or saw some drainage holes of appropriate size put drainage mesh and you are away.

If you look on Graham Potter's site Kaizen Bonsai the second book should be available from him. Unfortunately libraries have become bereft of good bonsai books over the years.

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:58 pm

Unfortunately libraries have become bereft of good bonsai books over the years.

That's because they're among the top categories of books that somehow fail to be returned after checking out (or for those few libraries left which aren't heavily wired for security, smuggled out with books that were checked out legitimately).

It seems that some few potensai-ists aren't 100% honest.

I have two (very small) libraries available to me. One has 3 books -- all copyright in the 1980s (or earlier) and well down my list of decent beginner's books -- the other has 5 listed in the catalog, but only two on the shelves. The others have gone missing . . . they are the good-ish ones, of course.

But then, it is much better to own a few decent bonsai books than to rely on a library.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:51 pm

JimLewis wrote:I have two (very small) libraries available to me.
Go online. I go on the Lancashire Libraries website and I can find books (or CD's, DVD's, sheet music etc) in ALL the libraries in Lancashire and reserve them online to be collected from the library of my choice which is always Lancaster as that's where I live. If books I want aren't available in Lancashire they will find out if they are available in other areas. If no-one has a book I want I can request them to buy one in for me. A friend of mine did that with a manual for his camera, they bought one in for him and he then kept it for 33 weeks by renewing it every three weeks for the maximum of 10 renewals. It's a bit like going on eBay without having to spend anything, lol.
I realise though that by telling you this I am not going to be able to get any decent Bonsai books out of the library for months now!

Ian.

Aaah. Small problem I just noticed. You are in California. Lancashire Libraries probably don't have a branch in California. I imagine you do have a great library service out there though so look into it. If we can do it up north anyone can do it!


Last edited by GrumpyOldMan on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Missed a vital point!)

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Re: Cheeky first post - opinions appreciated re: Maple.

Post  GrumpyOldMan on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:58 pm

Dave Martin wrote:As the tree will be in a prolonged training phase looks do not really matter, what does is the health and the development of the tree. The fish boxes I am thinking of are about 6 inches deep x 15 inches x 10inches. drill or saw some drainage holes of appropriate size put drainage mesh and you are away.

If you look on Graham Potter's site Kaizen Bonsai the second book should be available from him. Unfortunately libraries have become bereft of good bonsai books over the years.
I know what you're saying about looks not being as important but these trees will still be visible in my garden so I'd like them to look as good as they can in the circumstances. I think Cat Litter trays are about the same dimensions you quoted but possibly only 4 or 5 inches deep. I have a Pyracantha in one at the moment and it actually looks fairly decent. They cost about £1.75 for a decent quality one (Wilko's) or can be found in poundshops if you're not too fussy about the colour.

Ian.

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