Lakeside Sharp's Pygmy

Jiminsauga

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Hi all,

With spring fast approaching up here in southern Ontario it's time I start making some hard decisions on this pygmy. I picked it up at the end of last season at my LGC called Lakeside, hence the title name.

The tree has two main dominant trunk lines so I've used Peter Chan's paperbag technique to help visualize the various fronts/chops.

What do you all think of my options below?

With bag
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Without bag
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IMG_20210330_1626156-02.jpeg


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Rotating composition
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Shibui

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Much depends on what you want from the tree. All options have plenty of branches to give a full canopy so it looks OK in all if you just want a full canopy informal upright maple bonsai.
I would be looking for the best movement in the main trunk as the front for maximum interest. Option 1 appears to be almost straight with very little taper so not as good as 2 and 4

Also look at clusters of branches. This is very important with JM but even more so with the dwarf yatsubusa types that tend to make even more clusters. Even eliminating one of the main trunks still leaves 2 (maybe even 3 or 4?) smaller branches almost opposite at the lowest fork. There are further large forks further up the tree to consider but they can be dealt with at a later date.
Looks like you have selected well. This one appears to have been grafted but the graft is almost inconspicuous and should become even more so over time.
 

LanceMac10

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'Suss out your best root arrangement with a little soil removal. What provides the best view at soil level will provide styling cues with concern to drastic pruning.

"Dwarf" type like Sharps on a graft can get a little top vigorous and my start to bulge a bit at the graft union. Keep the scissors handy to reign in growth.

In my experience Sharps is a strong back-budder properly prepped prior to a major insult.
 

Jiminsauga

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...Also look at clusters of branches. This is very important with JM but even more so with the dwarf yatsubusa types that tend to make even more clusters. Even eliminating one of the main trunks still leaves 2 (maybe even 3 or 4?) smaller branches almost opposite at the lowest fork. There are further large forks further up the tree to consider but they can be dealt with at a later date.
Looks like you have selected well. This one appears to have been grafted but the graft is almost inconspicuous and should become even more so over time.
Thanks Shibui for the great insight.

You're right that there are 4 main branches emanating from the same point. Depending on which front I ultimately go with 2 of the 4 will have to be air-layered off.

In your experience, if I were to choose front 02 how would you handle the large lowest branch on the left? I'm at a lost since it's a fork on a fork.
 

Shibui

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I was going to suggest chopping it off altogether as it is just slightly on the inside of a bend but then I had another look. 2A shows very little else on the left side so that low left branch is probably critical. Alternatives are the stronger branch that goes toward the back (undesirable for a first branch) or the smaller one below at the ffront (again probably undesirable as it points toward the front and will take a long time to catch up to the upper branches)
That brings me back to retaining that left branch.
I do not favor informal upright JM with horizontal branches. Well done they can look impressive but that's not how JM grow naturally. I aim for rising branches that are almost sub trunks. This one is well place for that style. Remove the strong lower fork completely which will add some taper to the branch. There's a smaller side branch there that may be useful. Probably reduce the upper parts of that strong branch as well to add even more taper. Your challenge will be to get the top of it to ramify and create a branch 'pad'
remove the other 2 branches at that point on the trunk.
Treat other strong branches and the upper trunk the same to style an authentic natural JM style JM bonsai.

Hope some of that makes sense.
 

Jiminsauga

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@Shibui I get what you're saying about the lack of branching on the left side of 2A. Going back and forth between 2A and 4A I think applying what you're suggesting above would also work on 4A and be easier since the balance of the branching is more even. Thanks for the solid advice.
 

BrianBay9

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@Shibui I get what you're saying about the lack of branching on the left side of 2A. Going back and forth between 2A and 4A I think applying what you're suggesting above would also work on 4A and be easier since the balance of the branching is more even. Thanks for the solid advice.

I think the graft is smoother and less noticeable in the #4 front.
 

JonW

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In my mind, one of the best examples of the intersection of art and science in bonsai is branch selection. Ultimately, art has to take precedent: what your eye tells you in the end wins. However, being scientific and methodical also helps you consider all the artistic possibilities.

As far as being methodical, we know a guideline is to reduce branching to bifurcations: 2 branches at any one spot. Aside from the lowest, weaker branch, I think you have a quadfurcation 4 parts of growth emanating from the same point. This includes 2 upright trunks and two more horizontal branches. If you following the guideline to reduce from 4 to 2 and we assume you want to leave at least 1 upright, you have 5 options:
  • Upright 1 and branch on the left
  • Upright 1 and branch on the right
  • Upright 2 and branch on the left
  • Upright 2 and branch on the right
  • Upright 1 and 2, remove both branches for a taller, very natural looking maple, and develop wider branching over a few years
Of course, the final option is to just call it a broom style and leave all the branches! You will get reverse taper eventually, but so do a lot of maples in nature, as this is a really common growth habit. I don't tend to go this route, but frankly the tree looks pretty great as is. Any chopping will leave it a bit bare, and as @Shibui pointed out, removing the lower left would leave that side pretty empty. As @LanceMac10 said, these tend to back bud, so you could hope for a well-placed adventitious bud that you grow into a proportional branch over many years. I also think @LanceMac10 made a good point: consider nebari before anything else.

If I decided to chop, I'd probably go with 4a and remove the branch on the right, or stare it a while to consider keeping both uprights.
 

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