How to get drastic taper without major trunk chops?

timhanson81

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Recently I started searching google with kanji characters and have been drooling over the beautiful trees on many of the Japanese sites. I have been particularly impressed with the heavily tapering shohin without any large trunk/sacrifice branch chop scars.

I understand the general methods of giving taper through trunk chops, but how do you develop a tree such as the one pictured? I am assuming they are grown in pots, as field growing would result in too course growth. Is it just a matter of continued pinching out of the leaders over many years? OR am I just missing the chop scars somewhere?

Based on the rough translation, I think this Japanese Maple is 14cm high with a 8.5cm base.

Thanks for any insight,
Tim
 

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Bill S

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Good question Tim, too bad too that Gary aka King Kong never gave us an answer, before he was banned, because he did all but swear that is the only way he did his trees.

Haven't heard an explanation, but my thoughts are that you have to keep the lower branches strong and grow them for building the lower trunk, whilst keeping the apex pruned back hard constantly. Adding a section at a time. My guess is that this adds many years to the time frame for this type of tree.
 

ovation22

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I would say air layer off a larger tree. Hard to get a thick trunk without thick roots, thick branches, and/or chop scars otherwise.
 

jk_lewis

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Those trees are the results of many trunk chops. I'd guess they're at least 10 years old, probably much older. They're trident maples, so chop scars (which undoubtedly are in the back somewhere) are covered up quite rapidly. They may well have been started by air layers or cuttings, but they got that shape via a series of trunk chops.

There are no shortcuts. Sorry.
 

Bonsai Nut

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The thread where some of this discussion that people are referring to started is the tropical Siam Bonsai thread from about a year ago.



Basically development included a combination of trunk chops (on top) while repotting and spreading the roots over a cone-shaped frame (similar to field planting on top of a plate to spread roots). In some cases the roots were actually woven so they fused into a beautiful, symmetrical base. Note how in the photo above you can see the roots actually originate well above the ground line. The nebari (flare) is actually created by a cone-shaped root mass (not the trunk). You can ready more about the process here:

Siam Bonsai Development

Not sure the same process could be used to generate the small tree in this thread. I would tend to agree that air-layering would be the fastest method, but otherwise chop and grow is the only way I know.
 

capnk

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This tree may also have been grown by the technique of starting with several seedlings bound together. Perhaps through a tile. I can see evidence of branch (or perhaps trunk) cuts.
 

cquinn

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The technique is in Peter Adam's book.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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I circled what appears to be one trunk chop on this Japanese Maple. BT has articles about growing these short fat things...mostly grown on a tile and allowing one apex to extend at a time and shortening it before it gets too heavy to require a big chop. LOTS of spraying with lime sulfur helps keep the trunk evenly colored, which disguises much of the work.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Circled in yellow...
 

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Why don't you try using Trident Maple whips, wrap them around a base and let them fuse together. Check out this web site and see how it's done:

http://www.dugzbonsai.com/tridenttrunk.htm

JC
 

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Smoke

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Recently I started searching google with kanji characters and have been drooling over the beautiful trees on many of the Japanese sites. I have been particularly impressed with the heavily tapering shohin without any large trunk/sacrifice branch chop scars.


Thanks for any insight,
Tim

First of all when dealing with developing massive taper as in these exagerated trunks on these maples, one has to know the time frame with dealing with such things. If you expect to have a scarless trunk in two seasons than making trees like this is not going to happen for you.

If making trees like this with massive taper and you are willing to put ten years into it then one can get to this with no visable chops at all. It just takes time...not that much but enough to erase the chops. They will dissolve away and become invisable over time.

This small mame trident was built the same as the article I posted here a few months back. The base of the tree is two inches across and the tree is 4.5 inches tall. No scars showing. This will be a nice tree in about 5 more years as I build a new canopy.
 

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Smoke

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When I turn the tree around we can see that there are still no scars.
 

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Smoke

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There are three trunk chops in the back of the tree. The three are marked in red.

The fourth chop is on the top of the tree.

The fifth chop will take place in about 4 months as the leader expands. It will be taken to the bottom bud on that leader. First it has to grow to "tapering" size before chopping. This is why I have chops of differing size on the tree. First chop small. Second chop larger. Third chop even larger. This was to develop trunk girth, so they had to remain longer to do their job.

(the red circles are just a referance and are not the size of the chops, the first chop was only about 3/8 inch across. The chops and scars got larger as the tree increased in size.)
 

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timhanson81

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Thanks everyone for the replies!

As a plant biologist, I enjoy the propagation and development of stock just as much as maintenance of "finished" trees. I have lots of projects going with many aimed at creating these short and fat little trees. I wired 50 japanese maple whips to a mame sized frame recently to try that technique out. We'll see how that works. Next year I'll try a few more with Trident maples. I don't think air-layering would really help much to get something like this. Any layered apex is going to take a lot of work to add that much taper, and any other portion of the trunk which is layered will still require some sort of large chop.

I definitely realize there are no shortcuts to developing material like this. I just find it hard to believe that you could grow a Japanese maple like this without modifying the standard trunk chop procedures somehow. Maybe it is just a matter of more but smaller chops over time. I am under the impression that Japanese maples take longer and don't heal over chops as nicely as Trident maples.

Al- So that tree was reduced from tall nursery stock like the others you posted? How many years ago did you make the first chop? It definitely has potential to be a great little tree!

Brian- Does the lime sulfur just give everything a uniform color and erase any discoloration of the scars, or does it do more that that?

Tim
 

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Thanks everyone for the replies!

As a plant biologist, I enjoy the propagation and development of stock just as much as maintenance of "finished" trees. I have lots of projects going with many aimed at creating these short and fat little trees. I wired 50 japanese maple whips to a mame sized frame recently to try that technique out. We'll see how that works. Next year I'll try a few more with Trident maples. I don't think air-layering would really help much to get something like this. Any layered apex is going to take a lot of work to add that much taper, and any other portion of the trunk which is layered will still require some sort of large chop.

I definitely realize there are no shortcuts to developing material like this. I just find it hard to believe that you could grow a Japanese maple like this without modifying the standard trunk chop procedures somehow. Maybe it is just a matter of more but smaller chops over time. I am under the impression that Japanese maples take longer and don't heal over chops as nicely as Trident maples.

Al- So that tree was reduced from tall nursery stock like the others you posted? How many years ago did you make the first chop? It definitely has potential to be a great little tree!

Brian- Does the lime sulfur just give everything a uniform color and erase any discoloration of the scars, or does it do more that that?

Tim

That tree was started (chopped) four years ago. I have many tridents in all phases of chopdom and experimenting. I am experimenting with drilling out the live center of a trunk and making a long triangle cut down the trunk and pulling together the two halves and make a cone. Sort of like Doug Phillips but not over a form and no seedlings to graft together.

Yes mountain maples take longer to heal over and unscarred trunks in Japan are worth a fortune when they are done right. Great shohin maple trees that are really worth anything have been in training for 30 or more years. Most of the really great maples seen at Gafu-Ten are well over 40 years or more. These below( I took photos of the photos from my Gafu book from last year) are all over 50 years old. The maple with autumn leaves is a shishigashishira
 

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Smoke

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One last one...
 

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Smoke

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Thanks everyone for the replies!

I don't think air-layering would really help much to get something like this. Any layered apex is going to take a lot of work to add that much taper, and any other portion of the trunk which is layered will still require some sort of large chop.



Tim

Funny you would mention this as this book I photoed for this post has English translation as well as Japanese. Virtually all of the maples in this book (there are about 75 maples in it) are started from air layer.

The photo's you posted of the turtleback maples, the only way to get those is by air layering. It is started on a large maple mother tree and a suitable branch with good movement is selected and the air layer is made in a circle around the branch. The roots grow and the layer is removed. It is grown out and the branch is allowed to grow stretching the "turtle" back to a mound. A seedling is thread grafted thru the turtle back and training begins on that while the original branch is removed after graft takes.

I know it's hard to tell but thats the way it's done. It's all in the healing.
 

JRob

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Tim,

If you go to Morton Albek's site, (Shohin-bonsai europe) just under his banner is a link to his method for developing the type of shohin bonsai maples you are discussing. (I have two in process using his technique in this article). In one several of the pictures you can see the trunk chop and the healing process that has taken place and over time it will become barely noticeable. It is a wonderful article and has been very helpful to me in developing my two trees.

Best of luck,

JRob
 

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