Keep it or Cut it?

Brian Van Fleet

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Looking over this J. Maple and considering removing the lower-right branch...it started as a sacrifice and I got used to looking at it. It's pretty thin, but I do like the full look it brings when the tree is in leaf.

So...what do you think; keep it or cut it?

I'll also post a photo of the tree in winter so the structure is visible...
 

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Bob O

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Brian: This tree looks good either way. It does give the tree a fuller look, naturalistic I think.
Once removed its gone, for now I think I'd see how much I could develope it further.

Just my two cents. :)

Hope this helps,

Bob O
 

rockm

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I'd keep the lower right branch, but that thick upright leader on the left should go. It's too thick and competes with the main trunk.
 

wahoo172

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I agree with rockm about the left leader.
I think the lower branch you question looks good in spring, but it does
seem a little out of place when dormant. I would have to do a lot of looking
at the tree with a cloth covering that branch to make a decision. Good Luck
with your choice.
 

HotAction

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Keep it! Also, don't even think about losing that left sub-trunk. I would rather buy the tree from you.

Dave
 

rockm

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Put your thumb over the limb on the computer screen image so it covers the ascending limb down to the lower branch...

Not only is the thing too thick for that high up in the tree and is far too coarse for the canopy next to it, it is physically competing with the main leader for dominance. It will only get worse, at the expense of the main trunk.
 

docs_bonsai

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I agree removing the sub-trunk on the left and rearranging the branch structure for balance will enhance the taper as it moves up the tree. Another positive would be a better relationship in size of the remaining limbs.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks for the input. You guys are 1000% right about the left branch needing to go. I did a virt without it a couple years ago and I'm just not ready to cut it off yet...but it will need to go at some point. Problem is, it represents a large volume of the tree's structure, so to cut it means a big-time hole for several years. I'm slowly coming around to the idea, and am training branches into that space so when I do cut it, I won't hate the thing for the next 5 years!

Rock: Insightful...it has been competing for apical dominance for quite a while, I really have to ride hard on it in the winter to slow it down.
 

Vance Wood

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It seems to me that this is a matter of opinion, none of which will really make a good, favorable improvement to the tree; IMHOP. Removal of anything at this point, at best, will make this tree just like ten-thousand other upright J. Maples; admired briefly in passing and then forgotten. I would leave all the main branches alone, it gives it the appearance of a more aged tree; pleasantly unique. If anything I would consider shortening up the top a bit and make it more like a broom style and less like an Oak or Pine. Again; in my opinion it is a mistake to train a Japanese Maple with a pointed apex, AKA, Pine tree style. Check out Walter Pall's Maple over at AOB and see what I mean.
 
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DaveV

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I would have to agree with Vance on this. I personally feel that maples look better when they have branches angled up rather than horizontal. But again, that is personal taste.
 

rockm

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All due respect, if this:
http://artofbonsai.org/critiques/waltermaple.php
is the tree you're talking about, the comparison is apples and oranges. Walter's tree is multi-trunk, or a variation of that style were branching begins very low on the trunk were it's better visually supported.

The left branch on this maple is too coarse for that high in the design. It's also an impediment to the growth of the main apex. If you like 'angling out" branching, then reducing that left branch to its first branch (from what I can see in the photo) would produce such an angled branch, while refining the apex at the same time.
 

jk_lewis

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Again; in my opinion it is a mistake to train a Japanese Maple with a pointed apex,

Yes. Very young maples of some species sometimes look somewhat like pines, but they round their tops and spread their limbs as they age. Japanese maples left to themselves in the landscape are almost round, and layered.

If you shape them like a pine, all you are doing is making a copy of the common neophyte's assumption of what a bonsai is.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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If you shape them like a pine, all you are doing is making a copy of the common neophyte's assumption of what a bonsai is.

Something to always be cognizant of...said another way, make your bonsai look like trees, don't make your trees look like bonsai.

On pointed apices and branch angles, here's my take...this is a very young tree; it's only been in a bonsai pot for 5 years...the green trunk betrays the illusion of age. But, I think it's developed to a point now, where many of the major flaws have been addressed and it will have a chance to age gracefully in a bonsai pot; whether or not the big left branch is a part of the "final" design (probably it won't be, but maybe it will stay and become the thing about this tree that keeps it from "looking like a bonsai"). Old branches point down, apices round out over time, and if you start with a good foundation, it will grow into a great tree.

I think 5 more years in a bonsai pot will bring a more refined nebari, bark, and ramification. I'm sure it will end up wider than it is tall. It's almost even now.

I found a couple more photos of the tree in leaf. The first was last spring. I LOVE the red leaves. The second was at our club's show this summer before it was partially defoliated. You can see how the crown is rounding out a little each year.
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Update

So, I decided not to decide on anything this year, and instead,to plant a little higher to show a little more nebari next spring, and allow the ramification to continue to develop next year. It did very well this year; here is a shot after leaf-fall and a very minimal pruning.
 

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drake

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photo shop

i dont no what the other options may be for the front but from this view it could look like this
 

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drake

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also you could move some branches and open the trunk a bit as it is hidden completely when in full leaf. just a thought.
 

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