Refinement challenge

Bonsai Nut

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Here's an interesting maple that is about to get away from the owner. I'll be that in the summer it looks great, but bare of leaves you can see how the upper third of the tree is beginning to thicken too much, and the lower branches are too weak. It will require aggressive work to balance the tree because otherwise the whole design will be ruined. You'd still be able to airlayer the top off, but not sure what you'd be able to do with the lower half...

 
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Main tree has no taper at all. The lower trunk on the main tree and the trunks on the others has no movement, in contrast to the upper trunk on the main. The nebai seems out of place with the trunks.

Yet, there is much to work with as well, if one was willing to perform the drastic measures needed.



Will
 

king kong

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I disagree. I see nothing so adverse. It probably was grown from scratch. Nice to see this grow method compared to the typical trunk chop production. I see plenty of movement in a airy feeling well proportioned triple trunk style. The smallest trunked tree creates a feeling of depth. A liitle out of hand but very nice.
 
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BonsaiRic

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Reducing the top and thinning the upper branches to direct more vigor to lower branches should help. I like the straight trunks and root flare in combination with the fine ramification. It gives a picture of a powerful tree viewed from a distance.

Virt attached of my thoughts.
 

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Bill S

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The layer , after that defoliation will produce new buds form which you choose a new top to grow.

Be a shame to waste such nebari.
 

JasonG

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I think this is a killer tree!

The straight trunks with no taper don't bother me at all. You could add some gentle movement to them if needed. The upper part is a bit thick, sure but not enough that I think it warrants a drastic change today.
If it were mine, I would thin the top out and keep it pinched allowing the lower branches to grow out a bit thus thickening them up.

Layering this top off wouldn't net you anything that great. The trunk would be super thin with lots of branches and no taper. You would have to cut every branch off and start over. Why not just do that with a nice Palmatum whip that has 360 degree roots?

This tree could sit on my bench aaannnnyyyyyyyyy day! :)

Jason
 

emk

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My impressions are that the bottom portions of all three trunk are way too straight and untapered. The most obvious offender is the middle/back trunk, which doesn't look at all natural or mature. If it were mine, I think I'd air-layer just above the first branch, then re-train the first branch to be the new leader and hope for some nice back-budding after the trunk chop. Then I'd basically follow the same plan (sans the layering) for the other two trunks.

One good point is that the proportion of the caliper of each of the three trunks is about where it should be to my eye. They could all stand to thicken up a bit, but try to keep them roughly in the same proportion to each other as you do so.
 

buddhamonk

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I really like that tree just the way it is with maybe a bit more refinement over the years. Sure it doesn't follow "the rules" but I find it very pleasing...
 
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Mojosan

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Other than an airlayer, I agree with Ric. But I would go further and remove the smallest trunk. To me it interferes with the father/son relationship.

just my .02
 

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ghues

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I think that this thread just goes to show that there never is only ONE answer and that we all see things a little different.
Why are we so concerned about the winter look when it has a spring, summer and fall appeal?
 

pauldogx

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I'm with JasonG on this one!!!

On second thought---its a terrible tree with no potential. I suggest you ship it to me immediately!!!!:D
 

Walter Pall

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The tree has several positive points:

1) good ramification
2) apparently very healthy
3) good nebari (at the moment too much for the state)
4) good proportion of trunks
5) good general design for most ( not for me!)

The tree has several faults:

1) trunks have very little taper
2) too much ramification on the top and too little down lower
3) lower branches too thin in comparison to upper ones
4) old-fashioned design (according to my text book)

What ts called a design challenge is really a maintenance challenge. The tree was not maintained well in the past years. The result are faults 1 to 3.
But it is possible to overcome them:


Cut out 50 % of the ramification on the upper third of the crowns right away.
In the next growing season cut back new growth right after appearance in the upper third of the crown; let the lower two thirds grow long; cut back new growth in the middle third of the crown about six to eight weeks after new growth starts, let the lower third grow freely throughout the growing season; cut back the lowest third in late fall or in early spring. The new growth that will appear on then upper and middle third after cutting back will be cut back very soon after appearance again.
Do this for five growing seasons. The tree will look awkward in all these years except in the winter months.This is normal for a well kept collection. The majority of trees in my collection look somewhat awkward most of the time.

The result of this regime will be :

1) trunks will have good taper, lower part of the trunks will be twice as thick as five years before while upper parts will not have grown much at ll.
2) branches will have better taper, lower branches will be much thicker, lie three to four times, ramification will be much better, upper branches will stay about the same
3) design will be the same. It is not a good idea to change the general design, even if one thinks that it is old-fashioned.

The triple trunk will be much better in five to ten years if developed well. The mebari will make more sense and it will look muchmore mature.

Why old-fashioned? Because it is designed according to the textbook. This means it is designed as if it were a conifer. The text books don't tell you how to design a broadleaved tree. The result is that way too many broadleaved trees have a shape that does not fit their character. They look like cookie cutter bonsai, they look like a bonsai and not like a tree. This is NOT classical Japanese design. This is what is practiced in the West and what folks THINK is classical Japanese design. It is a caricature of a tree. and the Japanese call it that.

Here an example of one of my cookie cutter old-fashioned trident maples. In 1993 I did not know better and acquired this tree because I thought the design was very good. Well, it is was cookie cutter/caricature then. But within 15 years the tree got improved still.

See the whole story here: http://walter-pall.de/maplestrident_maple_nr__1.jpg.dir/index.html
 

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