Bloodgood Japanese maple - suitablt for bonsai

grouper52

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Out cruising the local nurseries for some azaleas for the back yard project, way back in the abandoned trees area I found this guy, unmarked, unpriced, sitting in a very small pot. I asked the owner what it was, he said probably Bloodgood, and said for $50 I could have it if I promised to haul it off!

I figured we have a spot of two in the yard if it won't make a good bonsai, so I got it. Trunk is about 6" diameter, height at the fork 16", overall height about 7'. You can see some ares of trunk rot at the base, which is why the nursery owner thought it was worthless.

I'm not the world's foremost authority on Japanese maple bonsai, so I thought I'd get some feedback from the more seasoned members here, if you would be so kind.

Will the leaves reduce well on a Bloodgood?

I seem to recall hearing some negative things about Bloodgoods compared to similar looking JMs like Okagami, Pixie and Oshio Beni and such, but I can't recall the specific criticisms or whether they applied to yard trees or bonsai. Anyone know what I might have recalled hearing?

My thoughts, if the leaves will reduce enough, is to just keep it healthy this season, repot into a training pot next season, then chop the two trunks at different heights the next season, and then start developing branches from the resulting back buds. The nebari and areas of deadwood would be examined during repotting, and then begin development at that time as well. Anyone have any other thoughts? They are most welcome. Thoughts as to where the chops should take place, and why at those locations, would be very educational to me.

My initial thoughts about this tree are that it has the makings of a very nice bonsai someday with proper development, but since I know so little about development of JMs I also have a sneaking suspicion that I've got it all wrong, and that this tree has no future at all except in the yard somewhere. I'd be happy to know what you all think, no matter what the opinion. Thanks in advance.

grouper52

http://www.bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=863&stc=1&d=1178425136
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http://www.bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=867&stc=1&d=1178425136
 

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buddhamonk

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that's a nice find - could potentially make a good bonsai. I'd reduce the size way down, leaving just afew branches off the main trunk, take care of the wound as to not leave a huge ugly scar. develop some branches and then groundlayer ina few years. looking at 5-10 years down the road, this could be a sweet tree.

I believe thata bloodgood

http://herba.msu.ru/shipunov/e-album/original/bonsai-k111.jpg

(image from their website http://herba.msu.ru/shipunov/e-album/kew_1-11.htm)
 
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wahoo172

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nice big un

That has potential, as buddah said ...long term project. I think I would grow the new root system first, then reduce the top after it has provided the fuel for vigorous roots.

I am a roots roots roots scholar... (I did not intend that to be funny, if it even was) I mean that bonsai starts with good roots and base.
Marion Borchers always told me the three most important things in bonsai are roots, roots and roots

George
 

grouper52

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Buddhamonk and Wahoo, thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Wahoo, I also place a lot of emphasis on roots, so your advice along those lines seems good. For some reason I've avoided JMs during my years with bonsai, so I'm just not very experienced with them, but I will assume that for JMs it is too late to do any root work this season, so I think perhaps I wil simply slip pot into a substantially bigger pot without disturbing the roots at all, and perhaps begin the ground layer in that pot over the next year or two, and do little else. Does that sound like a good way to proceed?

Meanwhile, I've sent off for Rich Adam's book on JMs, so I can get a better feel for what's needed over time. John Naka's otherwise wonderful books offer nothing for this particular species, unfortunately.

Thanks again.

grouper52
 

buddhamonk

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you mean peter adams???
if that's the book you're refering to, yes it's a great book for japanese maples - lots of good exemples with trees at various stages of training -

What I usually do is reduce the trunk first - put the tree in the ground to get vigor and vitality to heal the big scar I've created - and then work on the root.

I guess you could do it either way - but my maples heal much slower from a chop if I've worked on the roots first.
 

grouper52

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you mean peter adams???
if that's the book you're refering to, yes it's a great book for japanese maples - lots of good exemples with trees at various stages of training -

What I usually do is reduce the trunk first - put the tree in the ground to get vigor and vitality to heal the big scar I've created - and then work on the root.

I guess you could do it either way - but my maples heal much slower from a chop if I've worked on the roots first.
Thanks, buddhamonk.

Yes, Peter Adams. :eek:

Could the chop be done during the ground layer process - assuming at least 3-5 years in the ground, start the ground layer the first year, and once the new nebari are starting to develop in a year or two, then chop but wait another two years or so before separating the old established roots below? Seems like you/I might get the best of both worlds, but perhaps it would end up being the worst of both worlds or just some mediocre in-between results. I just don't know, so I'm asking.

You talk of a big scar - where would you propose chopping, below the fork at 16" or above it, and why? I myself was thinking of doing so above the fork, given the trunk thickness and my preference for slightly taller and graceful maples as opposed to squatty ones, and since I'm not sure how much the somewhat large leaves on a Bloodgood will reduce.

Thanks again.

grouper52
 

buddhamonk

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i dont see why you could do both in the same period of time (next 3 years) I dont know about doing those at the same time - I'd be cautious myself and do it over the long run.

Do you think you could post close up pictures of the base say half way up the tree. I see what you mean but it's hard to tell from the picture. The other thing about ground layering, you'ds have to layer at least higher than the rotting spot on one side of the base.

Manny
 

grouper52

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Here you go, Manny.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=876&stc=1&d=1178511431
http://bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=877&stc=1&d=1178511431
http://bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=878&stc=1&d=1178511431
http://bonsainut.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=879&stc=1&d=1178511431

As you can see, besides that fairly large area of rot there seem to be several other smaller ones. My fantasy of a "graceful" JM is probably going out the window, the more I think about it. I don't recall seeing a lot of hollowed out deadwood on JMs, not ususally styled to convey as sense of being a "survivor!

Air layering above the rot, which may extend much higher than it looks, would bring the diameter down to around 5" I think, and of course would also lower the fork a few inches.

Let me know what you think.

grouper52
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I would recommend you consider your final styling. This tree has a split trunk that would suggest (to me) a twin trunk style. Otherwise, you are going to have to eliminate one of the trunks. If you go with twin trunk, you will know right away where you need your airlayer because the trunks will need to split just above the nebari. I love Japanese Maples and have about 30 of them (in addition to 50 seedlings from a "Johnnie's Pink" that I am curious to see what they turn into"). You live in Japanese Maple central - the perfect environment for them. I have to be careful with maples down here in southern Cal - they are almost total shade plants and have to be protected from the wind else the leaves wilt/dry.
 

JasonG

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Hey Will,

This is just my opinion and feel free to do what you want, but if it were me I would plant it in the ground and forget about it. Bloodgood will make good bonsai but I don't see anything special here.

You have enough better trees to spend your time on than this tree. Besides if you want to play around with Japanese Maples you know where to get the best ones for bonsai in the NW that will be much better.

Make it a landscape tree and get something better to work on.

See Ya, Jason
 

grouper52

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BonsaiNut, that option is becoming more apparent to me, so thanks for lending it some support.

Jason, yes, of course I know where I can get some more awesome JM material to work on! But for $50 I thought this one might be good for honing my skills without much risk. Still, the yard may be the final answer! Zenah, BTW, was initially very upset that I was going to "give away" that crabapple, but she's now falling in love with the JM - I'll try to convince her that one may not be enough! Take care.

Will/grouper52
 

buddhamonk

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What I would do is chop - leave one trunk (not two)
and then leave it in the ground a while. Root prune every two to three years and once you have lots of buds/branches lower - work on the roots with airlayer or ground layer. Somehow I don't see it as a twin trunk (same size trunk, different directions, etc)

or you could keep it as a landscape tree but why not have fun with it and practice bonsai techniques on a cheap tree.

Manny
 

Mojosan

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Whenever I read a post like this it makes me wonder. What good is a 6" trunk that's 6" straight up for several feet? Ok, you chop it. Now you have a 6" tube with no taper, it pops some buds - and now you have a new leader. A leader that is 5.9" less that the trunk section below.

This makes no sense to me, as the drastic change is just too much, and no matter what you do it will always look funky.

I agree with Jason here - put it in the ground in the yard and forget about it.
 

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