Inherited Japanese Red Maple - Ideas to fix double scar

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This is another one of the twelve bonsai’s I inherited from my father in law two years ago. Its a reliable, lovely colored maple of unknown origin, maybe a Deshojo (?) he picked up along the way of his 30 year voyage through the world of bonsai. Like some inherited pieces, it has some great attributes and not so great flaws.

My mission is to get it to be the best it can be, after all, it’s a family possession and there is a good deal of sentiment attached to all Dad’s trees, perfect or not.

Recent work: I repotted the tree in Feb in Boone’s deciduous mix and cleaned up the nebari a bit. The tree was very rootbound. It tossed out literally double the foliage of past years, and as you can see I trimmed it back pretty hard to start working on the bulging ends of the core branches... this will take some time I‘m thinking.

Presently I’m focusing on a fix the double scar smack dab in the middle of the trunk..... shown in side view and head on below.
  • The top scar is from a trunk chop and IMO isn’t healing at all in the past two years. It’s core is starting to weather and may be rotten.
  • The lower scar, from a branch removal is healing from the bottom up.
  • Both are very close to one another.
Right now I’m trying to decide what to do with this situation. The way I see it I have two options....:

a. Whittle down the dead core of the upper scar, fill as needed, and provoke the edges of the wound to start healing again, while leaving the lower scar to heal on it on. The issue with this fix is there will be an abrupt angle between the scars that may never be softened over time.​
b. Whittle down the dead core of the upper scar, then carefully cut off the area between the scars, merging them together and fill as needed, etc. This will cut out the abrupt angle, resulting in a smoother flow up the trunk.... but resulting in one larger scar.​
Any thoughts, other ideas or further comments for the betterment of this tree would be greatly appreciated,​
Cheers​
DSD sends​
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NOZZLE HEAD

Shohin
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I think option b is the best for the tree in the long run, but may be a little more risky.
I don’t use a lot of cut paste, but this is probably a time to use it.
 

0soyoung

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First thing, if your father-in-law was thinking, the trunk chop would be in back or at least enough so that the slope of the cut is perceived as taper. the second scar, on the bulk of the trunk was likely accidental, but is it hidden if you change you view?
Second thing, where do you think the front is? The upper trunk should be moving toward the viewer. It may be easier to change this than wait until you are an old fart for it to have 'healed'.

At any rate, 'healing' is basically a matter of lots of foliage above the wound and time.
 

Forsoothe!

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It's too rigidly straight and un-tapered in exactly the way that JM naturally grow. IMHO, I'd chop it at the upper chop, hope for buds below the big scar, then chop the big scar and the bottom branch and go from there. Of course, your family is not watching me. No easy answers...
 
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Thanks for the observations and advice. I took a couple photos of the other side to show... see below... Dad was a great person, but a bit of a tree tinkerer then a dedicated hobbyist and loved to take on orphan trees. Some are really nice.
Anyone have any thoughts or observations about these other views?
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Don't know if you know about this stuff, but it works pretty well, it supposedly contains gibberellic acid, a hormone that stimulates plant growth.

Scuff the edge of live tissue where it meets the deadwood to expose a thin band of green cambium and apply, and of course as Oso said, vigorous growth will help too.

 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I am not a maple expert. I have had a few, currently only have an Amur maple. I would not rush to do anything in a hurry. One option, I would follow @0soyoung ' s lead.

I would consider, removing the first branch entirely. Turn the trunk so the apex leans toward the viewer. Then re-evaluate. If this doesn't look good, I would consider removing all but the thinnest branches. Clean up scars as much as possible, remove all branches and start over with a "clean" trunk. Branches are supposed to be thinner than the diameter of the trunk. The thick branches you have are too thick and too straight, looking very rigid. Cutting off most if not all branches would cause the back budding and allow you to rebuild the branches with gentle arching movement, rather than the "un-maple" like sharp angular movements. If I did the branch removal, I would probably do the pruning just after the summer solstice.

As to cultivar, perhaps it is 'Shishio Improved', it does not quite match 'Deshojo' or 'Shindeshojo'. Sometimes 'Shishio Improved' is spelled 'Chishio Improved'. Regardless the cultivar, it is a nice maple. Worth the trouble to rehab.

 

Adair M

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Some thoughts:

1) the upper section has no taper. It needs to be shortened dramatically, and a smaller branch be turned up to be the new leader.

2). The bottom branch is too thick for the size of the trunk. I’m not sure how to fix it other than removing it. Perhaps thread graft on new branches.

3) the tree appears weak. And to fix the scars, and to grow new branches, you need lots of growth. The pot size is preventing this. It needs a bigger pot or an Anderson flat or something.
 

ajm55555

Chumono
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I also think the issues are the fat lower branch and not so much taper on top. It's not easy to do something there. I have a similar "issue" with the top of my Deshojo and didn't have the guts to do anything. Hopefully it will fix itself with the years. If not, I like it anyway.
 

sorce

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The front must be the top of the last 2 huh?
Look good from there. Tapers nice. Everything odd is hidden.

I'd connect the wounds on that angle, gunk it out and seal it good. Let that top grow buckwild to heal it and....
Get that energy to start new branching for when you cut these off!

Sorce
 
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Thank you very much for all of your input so far. It’s given me a lot to think about.... including how to ask my wife “Wouldn’t it be nice to improve your Dad’s maple!”
Just found this photo taken a bit before I trimmed off the outer leaves a couple weeks ago.
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I spent lots of time thinking about your comments and finally decided that I’d start small by merging the two scars. Also by softening the profile in that area by trimming the edges.
So here’s the overall view prior to this job...
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Firing up the Dremel with a grinding bit I uncovered the two wounds and began to merge these together.
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You can see the growth ridge between the two scars. Also a good deal of rot.

I figured the safe bet was to leave it, but I’d rather get it out because I’d seen too many maples rot from the inside.

Dremel at higher speed, followed by some chisel and knife work. The big job was to create a cavity that had.

1. Continuous, clean edges
2. A slight undercut so the cut paste would firmly wedge inside thorough all weathers.

Doing the first task proved to be the hardest. Patches of rot abounded around the edges, so it was tough to a get good green edge all around. The undercut was easier, but the bottom branch on the left is a concern. It’s solid, but hanging out there. Hmm.... oh well! Nothing I could do.... so I finished that phase.

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Next I packed in the cut paste, ensuring the area was clean with no dust. I shaped the cut paste, packed it in tight so no air pockets were left. Then smoothed the edges and the top to finish the job.

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For those interested in the other side...

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So that’s that! I sure hope Dad wasn’t watching from above as I tortured yet another one of his trees... but it is a relief to get this job done. Now, fingers crossed, we wait.

Thanks for all the ideas. I’ll be keeping the others in mind for future adjustments.

For now, the plan is to feed this baby lots and fatten it up with good growth. Next year I will pop it out, look at the roots and maybe put it in a bigger pot so it can grow out more.

Cheers
DSD sends
 
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I would air layer the top and also air layer the bottom . Chop the lower tree just above the first branch you will have the start of a nice tree with plenty of taper, top half has plenty of options. good luck
 
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I was just told about putting seaweed extract on the scars to help with healing them.
 
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I would air layer the top and also air layer the bottom . Chop the lower tree just above the first branch you will have the start of a nice tree with plenty of taper, top half has plenty of options. good luck
Thanks, this year I’m in the bandaid mode for the maple. When I repotted it the roots were not were just not looking like I wanted them to... so I’m working on feeding it up right now and will let it grow out the rest of 5he year.... also some minor stuff right now. How fast the scar heals will tell me a lot it it’s worth an urban renewal job or not. If all goes well, I’m considering either an airlayer or just start with a clean trunk as advised by @leo et al. If not, I’ll grow it out one more year and decide then. btw.... This all will take a bit of convincing my better half as it was her Dads tree... consequently attachment issues come with the tree....
cheers
DSD sends
 
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I was just told about putting seaweed extract on the scars to help with healing them.
Hmm... haven’t heard about that before.... but there’s a lot I haven‘t heard yet! Does anyone out there have a good reference to support this technique?
best
DSD sends
 
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Good news, the big scar appears to be showing signs of healing!

The tree is pushing out growth like crazy at this point. I’m in my second light, selective pruning. I’m saving a couple longer shoots for cuttings and possible thread or approach grafts.

Thoughts?
DSD respectfully sends
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