Contorted Japanese Flowering Apricot

fredtruck

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My prunus mume contorta has undergone a few changes in the last year. Most important was continuing the slanting movement of the tree begun last year, slanting it even more. This makes for more interesting viewing and photographing angles. Growth has been good, though small in size.

People often ask me how this tree stands up, given the small pot and the slant of the tree. As it is now, the ume is perfectly balanced. However, when the tree begins putting on leaves and shoots, the weight balance is thrown off. I learned a trick from the art gallery business. Sculptures are often anchored to pedestals by putting wax on the bottom of the art. I do the same with this bonsai. Care must be taken to avoid clogging the drain holes, but properly applied, wax works like a charm.
 

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Eric Schrader

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Interesting tree and nice photo of it. I'd love to see this on a medium gray background when the tree is flowering!
 

fredtruck

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There are a lot of white buds getting fatter by the day. Late November or early December should bring the flowers.
 

fredtruck

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Thanks, Brian.

Pruning this ume for flowers is getting tricky. Some shoots grow 1/8" or so in a season, and others grow several inches. Nothing can be done with the short ones, so I let them go. With the long ones, cutting them back sometimes causes the whole shoot to die. Other times the shoot ramifies. I haven't figured out how to tell beforehand which way the shoot will go.

Does anybody know how to predict this?
 

Cadillactaste

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You've really developed some ramification on that canopy! I really like this tree...what size is it? To get a good overall feel for it.
 

fredtruck

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Before I slanted the tree, it was 30" tall. Post-slant, it's 17.5", so you can see I really dropped it down.

Trunk is the same as always, 1.5" diameter.
 

Nybonsai12

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Another one of my favorites here. You should show the pic from what this tree began as like in the international bonsai article. Its a testament to your skill and how far you have developed this beautiful tree.
 

fredtruck

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I received this tree in February, 2005, from my wife, who gave it to me as a Valentine's present. I removed a lot of it and put the remainder in this 7" square pot. Originally the tree was 4 feet tall. In the process of trying to bend the lower branch, I cracked it, and the branch later died.

The picture is from February, 2005. This is how my adventure with the prunus mume contorta began.

If you want to read the entire story of my ume, check out International Bonsai 2012/No. 1. A great magazine to be published in.
 

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Adair M

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Fred, are you asking how to get the tree to develop the Spurs that will produce flowers and fruit but won't grow long?

I believe the technique is to remove the fist two leaves on a growing shoot. Let the rest of the shoot elongate during the summer. Don't cut back.

Cut back when leaves drop.

Yes, the tree looks bad in summer.

But it looks good in winter, when they bloom.
 

fredtruck

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No one could have been more surprised than I was when I went into my garage yesterday and found one flower on my ume. Here's a picture of the tree in bloom, and a closeup of the flower.
 

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Cadillactaste

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Just lovely...the tree looks like an old weathered tree. Texture and what have you, then a delicate beautiful bloom. I love the contrast between the two. I really love this tree!
 

JudyB

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Best photo of this tree ever if you ask me, with just the single bloom. Just perfect.
 

fredtruck

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When I was in Kyoto, through a friendship and connections, I met a Mr. Yamamoto (a school teacher, as well as a licensed flower arranger). He saw a few early pictures of my ume, one of which had only one flower. He said to me, "Yes, that's the idea after all, isn't it? A tree full of potential, but only one flower."

Since then, I've always tried to catch my ume with just one flower.
 

Poink88

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Very nice tree indeed. Great pic too!

When I was in Kyoto, through a friendship and connections, I met a Mr. Yamamoto (a school teacher, as well as a licensed flower arranger). He saw a few early pictures of my ume, one of which had only one flower. He said to me, "Yes, that's the idea after all, isn't it? A tree full of potential, but only one flower."

Since then, I've always tried to catch my ume with just one flower.
I've read this numerous times...the best time is to catch it (ume specially) with one or very few flowers.
 

Dan W.

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Such a beautiful tree! Great work. :)
 

bonhe

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No one could have been more surprised than I was when I went into my garage yesterday and found one flower on my ume. Here's a picture of the tree in bloom, and a closeup of the flower.
Yes, it is so early for ume to bloom at this time!
I always love to watch the tree with one flower!
Bonhe
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Fred, are you asking how to get the tree to develop the Spurs that will produce flowers and fruit but won't grow long?

I believe the technique is to remove the fist two leaves on a growing shoot. Let the rest of the shoot elongate during the summer. Don't cut back.

Cut back when leaves drop.

Yes, the tree looks bad in summer.

But it looks good in winter, when they bloom.
Looks good Fred.

Adair, this sounds like techniques for Apple/malus species. Ume do not develop blooming spurs the same way malus do. The challenge is to keep the proximal buds viable, which is achieved by pruning new growth early, late April/early May:

Let new growth extend to 8-12 leaves and cut back hard, leaving the first 1-4 leaves. Done early enough, it will bud back and keep growing. Done later, and it will stop growing for the year. Many will defoliate and wire at this time too.
[video=youtube_share;MKbLSjSgARc]http://youtu.be/MKbLSjSgARc[/video]

The next pruning occurs after blooming, January/February:

Cut back last year's extension growth to 1-2 buds. Leave only 1 if you're sure its a viable bud, leave 2 if you're not sure about the viability of the first.
http://nebaribonsai.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/prunus-mume-5-of-4/
 

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