Field Grown Katsura Progression


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Port Orchard, WA
I thoght I posted this here before, but I can't find it. Must have been BT.

This is a field grown Katsura I got from Jason Gamby at Oregon Bonsai in 2007. A few strategic chops resulted in the first photo. It then went in a grow box, where it still remains.

New sprouts appeared in many places, and some were chose for branch development, bent and gnarled when still young with wrapped wire - Baby Bending - so as to later have undulating, interesting primary branch structures. Secondary branches and so on will also receive this treatment and ramification is developed. The next two pictures are from 2009. The photo with foliage still shows some large, full-size leaves, but these things reduced very well over time, with stunning foliage.

The last two photos were taken today after further branch selection and wiring. You can also see the carving on the deadwood areas - still in progress - which has been treated with lime sulfur and epoxy wood preservative. It'll spend another few years in the grow pot before trasition to its first real pot.

Stands about 3' tall.


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VERY nice tree. I really like the image you're making.
Will, what is your goal with this( I like it by the way), will it stay kind of sparse, or do you plan on filling out the apex more or less where it is??
Will, what is your goal with this( I like it by the way), will it stay kind of sparse, or do you plan on filling out the apex more or less where it is??

Hi Bill. My style is to sit with a tree a long time before I make a major decision how to proceed, and there are things about this tree that are still unsettled in my mind.

Factors involved include the large chops on a tree that has no chance of healing over in my lifetime, and a wood that would entirely rot away if it didn't seal over. I've therefore decided to create the deadwood effects and treat the wood to prevent rot. That gives the tree an ancient look, which tends to make me want to go in that sort of direction, and I've wired in the undulating, gnarly branches seen on ancient trees to accentuate that look over time.

On the other hand, this is a very elegant tree in nature, and the foliage looks very refined when it reduces. It is also a bit more tall than it needs to be, which could also add to the elegance if done right. To blend the elegant with the ancient is one challenge.

Ancient deciduous trees often display multiple tops, which I find much more pleasing than the green helmet look. I'm also in the camp than prefers foliage areas as opposed to foliage pads, which look very artificial to my eye on deciduous trees much of the time.

Given all that, the tree currently displays only two "tops", and the apex is too high and too big for the multiple-top style. I think I will perhaps remove the right part of the top, maybe bend the branches of the left part into a lower configuration as well, and then create some additional areas of foliage that can serve as lower tops from the now-small branches along the trunk. This will take a few more years than I had wanted, but I think it will result in a much more pleasing look. The tree grows easily, and is pretty workable for this plan except that the early internodes are fairly long, and there has been little back budding onto really old wood since the initial chops. Grafting could also solve some of the problems.

As is my style, if some inspired alternative plan strikes me along the way one day, I'll just go with that, but those are my plans as of this moment. :)

January is always the dreariest month here for me, and it's behind me now. I'm starting to come out of hibernation and work on trees again, and today, to celebrate (not into the Superbowl, but it's probably an equally important occasion for me), I got some Weimer Brothers Drop Top Pale Ale and had one. Just the right choice for this tree, since Jason Gamby turned me on to this beer AND sold me this tree!

Basically all I did was get this tree out of the grow box, and into this oh-so-wrong shallow drum, as well as a little root pruning and trimming the last shoots from last fall. Now it's years of ramification and leaf reduction to refine the image, and perhaps some other inspired stuff along the way. The leaves reduce from silver dollar size to the size of a dime over time, and are some of my favorite foliage.


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That is really great to see. I saw a beautiful Katsura at one of my local nurseries and passed it by. Does it grow like Red bud? Rank and coarse unless frequently tamed?

The foliage on these is exquisite?

Could you reduce the top down to that one upright front looking branch below the double top. This would seem to be a more proportionate height from my perspective with the photo and it looks like you could hide the cut on the back. It looks like the cut would also be into a previous cut scar though.

Good find there.
Thanks, FourMileMark. My post from a year ago answered some of those questions.

I may bring the top down a bit, but plan to just sit with it for now. It grows more like Japanese Maple than anything else, IMO.

And yes, the two I've seen bonsai'd had beautiful leaves that had reduced from silver dollar size to shimmering, colorful little dime size things.
Another update - not sure why this didn't load yesterday when I did a bunch.

Very nice. Thanks for the updates, always good to see your work Will.
Yes, exactly. That's where its heading, probably later this year.

Your response just made me so happy and gave a big grin on my face (I think I am even blushing!). :o Funny how simple things can have this effect on us/me.

Thank you sir for making my day! :)
Here's this guy today. Foliage quite showy all summer this year, and starting to reduce nicely. The foliage reduction and continued progress inspired me to take it to the next level - it looks very disorderly at the moment, but should really take shape over the next few years because of these changes.

I've done two things, basically: besides more baby bending, and preceding it, I started to bring the branches down, using both guy wires and wrapped wiring. This is another strategy to move a tree from a juvenile growth habit, i.e. vertical and straight, to that of an old survivor, in which branches are not only thickened and contorted, but more horizontal and even downward hanging.

The look is exaggerated this year, but as further ramification and leaf reduction occurs, and as I bring the foliage in closer to the trunk in places, it should look increasingly convincing.

The top jin on a deciduous like this may be at least somewhat hard to maintain over time, but for now it stays. Much of the tree is hollowing out now as well as the heartwood rots, and my hope is that the remaining live sapwood will be thick enough to support the tree's weight going forward. If not, I'll at least have some impressive photos to remember it by. :)


Good to see these used as Bonsai... Generally when people mention Katsura they are referring I the Katsura JM.. I have seen these at nurseries and wondered how they would work...
Is this the normal leaf coloration for summer for this tree? Very nice. What does it do come fall?
Feels very Will-like.
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