Bonsai Maple Series Pruning & Shaping

In this video I take two large and shapely Maples and refine them.

Well it’s friday evening half past five and this is when i’m going to start work because the evenings are long uh today is the 9th of july and it doesn’t get dark till about half past 9 or maybe a bit later so i will do my pruning when all the staff have left the nursery and i have all the time to just fiddle around and look at trees decide on how to change different shapes of trees so this past week i’ve been working on a lot of my old neglected maples we have so many trees that sometimes they go bad and they need reshaping or re-styling so this is what i’m going to do and of course knowing me most of my maples are on the large size and i’m going to now bring one or two quite interesting trees for you to see now let me just walk around the nursery and show you what i’ve got so i will take you around this is another tall one that i’ve just tidied up many of them lose branches and you’ve got to regrow branches so that’s all part of the fun there’s a kabudachi that i’ve just worked on like i always say i do work on it and then i suddenly realize that oh gosh i should have shown you what i’m doing you know rather than just do it myself i should have shown you what i’ve been doing so all these trees have been worked on they’re all maples and this has been a maple week for me now this is another huge tree i’m going to work on this one to show you what i’m going to do with that and these are the benichidoris that i’ve got here maybe about a dozen 12 or 15 all in need of training or re-trimming many of them require drastic maple decisions i should have shown you what i was doing on this one this is a tried maple that i’m restyling reshaping creating new taper so forever things are changing and being done and redone these are great big arakawas which need to be restyled so i’m going to work on these during the next couple of days so this as i say has been a maple week as if i don’t work on maples enough there’s always more maples to work on there are some very interesting ones that require very drastic and critical decisions so we’re going to work on those as well so let me now start on that big one that i was showing you and i’m now going to carry that to the turntable these are pretty heavy trees i think that these trees are about 40 kilos i can still lift 40 kilos on my own and i will work on it now let’s go to the workbench so let’s look at this maple this is what they call a kabudachi or clump style maple this is quite an old maple and over the years what was originally a five trunk kabudachi these are the trunks that died over a period of time they do die so i cut it out and i’ve left with three trunks so the front is no longer like this i’ll have to make the front somewhere new this way and i will retrain it maples in case you are wondering why you get die back they do die back quite often so this is a branch that suddenly for no rhyme or reason has died so you’ve got to accept maples for what they are they have this habit of losing branches uh almost suddenly you can’t explain it and you’ve just got to accept it now this is another one this also this branch has died so i’m going to get rid of it i cut it hard back to the trunk so that it will transfer and this is another one which has died over there and this is also dyed so you can see what a lot of die back there is so if you get die back on your maples don’t blame yourself blame the tree because neighbors have this habit of suddenly losing branches this is another branch this is called but on the plus side they will produce new launches very readily so although you may suddenly get a branch dying they will break that from old wood and if you feed it heavily you will get new branches fairly soon now fortunately i still have a viable triple trunk tree here so all is not lost all i have to do is to direct the energies into the right place so the front is going to be there so although that part is like that i’m going to make a front like this so when i come to repotting it eventually it’s going to be viewed from this side so anything going inwards i will either shorten or reduce very considerably try not to let all the growth grow upwards because most trees have the tendency to have branches growing upwards and if you don’t control that growth all the energies will be wasted there and uh you will not get branching lower down now this is a nice tall maple although this is really the apex where there’s fallen apex at the back but i’ve got to control that otherwise if i don’t control it all the energies go there and these lower branches are going to dry and these long shoots as well i try to trim them back so that i control the vigor this is very vigorous okay there’s a bunch of branches there and i think i should control the bigger of this as well hopefully by doing this they’ll force it to bug back further down and this has made it look quite presentable so all i need is more branches going in here to form the crown so that is all i need to do and where i’ve made the cuts it’s always a good idea to seal it many people are always confused when i work on maples and do heavy pruning in the summer i always say that if you prune heavily in the summer on maples they call us very quickly so it is okay to prune i prune in fact a lot of my garden trees uh throughout the summer and i’ve always done that with great success so it’s a fallacy that you should prune naples only in winter that’s not so in fact i never pulled my maples in the winter so so this is going to be the front of the tree can you see like that so that’s the view of the triple trunk that one is a bit long that one i can reduce even more steps on the energies going back and now i will control the growth like this and i’m going to feed it heavily you can use any type of fertilizer this one has been fed during the year i use all sorts of different fertilizers this is an organic fertilizer fish meal and chicken manure and some inorganic fertilizer as well so this one is done and i’m going to bring another one so this is an absolute beast you should have seen me lugging it it weighs i think every bit 35 kilos heavier than a suitcase and i walked with it about 50 yards like this and i’m now going to put it on the turntable and while i’m doing that can you see all those beautiful roofs that have come through the bottom all these beautiful roots i grow it on gravel so the roots go through and make the trees stronger these are the leaves from last year and by growing it in these tight pots they get a very beautiful nebari nice small nebari so this nebari is really beautiful i’ll just switch the camera to give you a different view so let’s take a closer look at the nebari everyone who talks about nebari nebori is just the root base how the roots go into the soil i don’t like using foreign terms because many people use foreign terms to bamboozle people to show that oh they know a few japanese terms and because they know a few japanese terms they’re great bonsai people nothing could be further than the truth they usually use that as a mask to hide their ignorance but anyway nebari simply means the root base so if you have a nice root base it gives character to the tree and of course only all trees have this beautiful nebari going into the soil and it shows that the tree is well anchored in the soil if you don’t have a good nebari or good group base it’s just like a telegraph pole or electric pole that you see in the countryside carrying the electric wires so our nebari gives it strength and purpose so this is an old tree that i imported from japan more than 30 years ago and over a period of time it’s become very old and because it’s become old branches do die many people think that if you buy a bonsai it will stay the same forever it doesn’t do that now this tree you can see there was a branch there that’s been taken out so this was probably a kabu dutch or clump style with one two three four and there was five five trunk tree and that was a tree the top has died so over a period of time it changes now this is half dead so this has changed again so what am i going to do with it so when you get a situation like this you’ve got to restyle or redesign the tree and this is what i really like doing so i’m going to restyle this tree so we look at this tree carefully and see what the possibilities are and because it’s a gnarled oil tree with beautiful root base it really has this semblance of age so i will now take you through the various options that are before us and try and take the tree in a new direction so what goes through my mind when i’m faced with a situation like this it’s obviously an old tree and it’s a massive tree and i want to still continuing to give that age-old look because it’s got so much ramification we’ll exploit that we won’t cut it all off but the first thing that strikes me is this trunk which has died it died there and it shot a new branch but it continues to look sickly so this branch is not doing anything the rest of the tree is still okay if i just trim the branches back a little bit it’ll give me a better idea as to what the tree will look like so i always try to help my imagination by giving it some semblance of what it should look like when i’ve completed working on this tree so let’s turn it around all these long branches over 60 centimeter long have been created or produced during this growing season that means since early april they have produced all these long shoots also because we’ve had such a hot dry summer many of these leaves have been burnt by the sun so this is the only reason why these leaves have looked a bit burnt but it may look unsightly but the tree itself is strong now straight away we have the option of either making this side the front or making the other side the front if we look at the camera closely where i’m standing the camera doesn’t give a good view but i can assure you that this is how i’m looking at it from here so this is a possible one because this branch is there but as i’ve always said never never decide too soon because what you think may be a good front may turn out to be the back now this side is also quite beautiful this side is also quite beautiful added to which this main trunk the taller trunk is leaning slightly here so this could be a front because it’s leaning towards us so this could be a possible front as well i think this has possibilities too but the ugly thing is this trunk here which is doing nothing so i think it has to go now with deciduous trees like maples we don’t talk of making gins ginza only work with evergreen trees i like used junipers pines but with maples and other deciduous trees making gin seems a bit pointless also it looks ridiculous i think if you had a bit of dead wood just paint it black like a tree rotting naturally so i’m going to get rid of this so i’m just using the silky sauce nothing special about it and i’m going to cut it out with the sauce so i’m looking at the center many of you may have read about verticillium disease i’m not a plant pathologist but i would think that it could be some form of rotting also if you care to look at the rings or freeze your video and count the rings the lines are so close there must be about 40 to 60 rings very hard to tell but i will look at it closely and count the rings so this thick branch is quite old so i’ve got rid of that let’s throw it away and we’re left with this stump here i could just let it rot naturally if i wish to [Music] sometimes if the good gods it makes a very natural creature because in nature when trees lose their branches of trunks they rot and you get this beautiful hollow [Music] that looks very natural if you remember i have a maker called the elephant’s foot and that’s completely whole now having removed that it doesn’t look odd at all now we let it rot further so that’s only a very rough cut i’m not bothered about the finishing touches because this will work in time and the rotting will be more natural [Music] you notice i’m using my left hand glove i’m always wary when i use these silky sauce they’re ever so sharp and very dangerous okay so although i sometimes say there’s no point sealing it but because it’s such a big cut i am going to seal it just to be on the safe side because whenever you make a cut moisture gets lost from it and if you lose moisture the entire tree could die or just that branch could die so i’m just sealing it this by the way in case you want to know what it is it’s a european product called lac balsam it’s not that easy to get but i swear by it i love it it’s better than many of those other cut pastes that are made in japan they all are very effective but everyone has their own particular preferences and i prefer to use this now simply cutting that out has made the tree look more interesting turn it around i must say that i’m looking at the video the video doesn’t do the tree justice when you look at it in real life or in real time it is much more imperfect it really looks like a big tree simply cutting that out i’ve changed the shape a bit i can bring this a bit lower and for that i will use quite a thick piece of wire you don’t want the inputs but if you wire it very gently and don’t leave too many marks it does work now this is a branch on its own but i still would like to link it oh i can just link it on itself because i’m just going to do a very very loose wiring i could just take it on the trunk to anchor it because it’s only going to be loose [Music] like the s-shaped materials they’re also wide when they’re very young so the upward pointing branch is going to be split down like this be very careful you don’t snap it because maples are very brittle they can snap so having cut that branch out i’m going to change the front so for the future the front of the tree instead of being here is going to be here so it’s about 20 degrees or so from the original front so the front is going to be like so when i repot it and i eventually get around to doing it the front is going to be this way looking at it this way in fact it’s such an interesting tree if you have a big drum pot you get away with all sorts of defects and i think that is really all i need to do i will just trim the ends a bit to stimulate more ramification ramification comes simply by constantly taking the ends out but by doing that you will cause more buds to break so there’s nothing special about making ramification just by pruning the ends you stimulate growth further back that’s all there is to ramification so maples can be all sorts of different styles you don’t have to have one single set star and this branch which we thought could be used at the front is now a back branch if we look at it like this this is definitely the back now the front is better on that side i’ve just seen another cup that i’ve made i’m going to seal that as well see all these cuts so simply removing that one single half dead branch has completely altered the look of the tree for those of you who understand hindi when i used to go and demonstrate in india i’m sure there are some indian viewers everyone used to say that means the has been completely changed so change the look of the tree just by removing that single one branch in fact if i were to move this a little bit to this side this could still be a very nice front i’m now going to just take the camera and give you another view i’ll spin it around and show you what it looks like so let’s have a closer look at this tree now i’ve taken that half dead branch out so although it’s left a big space it has opened out the tree and we have the option of looking at the tree like this looks like a mighty great big tree if i just go around and view it from every angle you see how beautiful that base is look at the roots going into the soil the nebari is beautiful absolutely beautiful and this is going to be one branch on this side and this is going to form the left hand side of the triangle and the overall triangular shape is there which is what you want the basic design to be most trees have a triangular shape or a dome shape however old however young someone may criticize this branch for going upwards but it fills that space so i’m not worried about that branch that branch is quite okay and that sweeping branch at the back that comes out and gives depth to the whole tree so that comes out from the back that’s looking very nice like that so although i said it you might want to change the front to look at the tree from this side i still think we can now go back to the original side and look at the tree like this so once the dome is established and more branches to the left it’s going to be a beautiful tree so that’s all i need to do with this one so that was easy just removing that dead trunk the whole tree has taken on a new look and a new dimension this bit on the right hand side could do with a little dome here because at the moment it’s very flat if it was more domed shape that would look nicer so for the time being that’s all i wish to do you could tighten it up a little bit if we wanted to in fact i will do it to create more of the dome if i take this back i know that there’s a lot of ramification there if i take all these shoots back so you get more of a triangle forming there so i’m going to create more of a dome over here that’s of effect there i think a lot of people would love to buy this tree it’s a very very old tree when you look at the base this is a 200 millimeter pair of scissors and look at the base it’s more than that it’s about 300 millimeter at the base so so much for that one and i’ll move on to another one now this is another maple these green maples are what we call the mountain maples yama momiji straight asapa metal it’s got beautiful trunk line and these were probably imported as bonus i this size they were no bigger than this it’s grown twice the size in the last 20 years and we are growing them to change the shape of the tree because i like maples of this size and also because a lot of my customers that we serve have tastes for maples this size so let’s look at it in detail and i will just change the view so let’s take a close look at this tree now the trunk is very nice it’s got beautiful taper and the nebari or the root base is quite nice too i guess if you teased away you will find more surface roots and all the branches are in the right place beautiful taper you know broad at the base tapering there although it’s been cut you can see that there is taper going all the way to the top this green portion is relatively young and this has been grown by me in the last seven years to make a new apex i didn’t like the way the tree was veering off to the left hand side because that was the original apex on that side but i’m going to make it into a big triangular shape and if you remember my famous split trunk maple most of my maples have that sort of style after all every person has their own particular style of growing trees so this resembles the sprit trunk in many many respects now if you look at the tree closely look at these long shoots here look at that shoot that is every bit i would say 60 to 70 centimeter long all these new shoots 70 meter long shoots have grown since april of this year that means may june july not even three months and all these long shoots have grown if you don’t control them these shoots can become more than a meter long as you can see they’re reaching the sky and the tree will become completely unkempt so even if you didn’t do anything all you really need to do is to prune the outline so i’m now going to put the camera down and show you what i’m going to do so the famous peter chan approach to styling his trees especially maples is to form the dome shape i don’t like to keep saying triangular shape because i’ll get people criticizing me that oh why are you making all the maples look like pines they’re not made to look like pines maples do in fact grow like this a dome rather than a pine shape so just prune these long shoots off if you want to you can just leave about two or three inches of the current year’s growth and it will make the tree strong giving it a haircut this is what we call giving a haircut just pruning the long shoes i don’t look at the detail at this stage i will just prune for the overall shape overall dome shape at this stage and then i will go into the detail later on so once you get this overall effect you will get encouragement because it will begin to look like a decent bonsai that’s all there is to it many people don’t even do this they just leave them to grow and they wonder why they lose the shape completely keep the front open i didn’t say much about the front or the back of the tree well this is my preferred front this side i wouldn’t use in a hurry because it leans away although whoever buys this tree might decide to change it but i’m not fast but there are so many shoots and such a lot of healthy counseling that you can be sure that whatever you cut would heal very far fast it’s amazing how some people prefer what you would consider the back to be the front it’s all a matter of choice i never say that there is a correct front or a wrong front if you have a different preference that’s your choice now i always look for ways in which i can improve it so these branches are springing up a little bit so what i could do is i could do a little bit of wiring to wire them down i don’t have to but it might be advisable to do that a lot of use inward growing branches this is where i now look at the inward growing rods and take them out we want to thin it a bit i’m going to do some very light wiring nothing heavy just very light i won’t put the wire very tight it’ll just be like an open coil to guide the branches in the right direction if the branches are filling a space and that space is correct i’ll leave it so just flatten it just a shade now i’m going to tell you how to manage this pad this long branch and this lovely fan shape formation of the twigs is what we call a pad if you can see it that whole area is one pad all that emanating from this branch this single branch this is all one pad and because it’s springing up slightly i can do one of two things i can get a bamboo stick i just went out to get a bamboo stick see this is a bamboo stick if we rested on the top and secured it there you can use the stick to press it down or you can pull the individual wires branches down and wire to the base so i’m going to show you how to do this so i’m going to take this little bamboo stick these are little black bamboos that we grow and the old stems are used for doing all sorts of gardening work so using this bamboo stick you see how it’s pressing the whole pad down i can tie the bamboo stick to various points of this pad i will use tiny bits of wire to tie it and because it’s only training it doesn’t matter if it looks a bit unsightly it doesn’t matter as long as it does the job we always say that there are endless ways of inventing and creating new techniques and all by trial and error so this bamboo stick trick is an old practice that i’ve been using for years and years to create flat pants rather than why individual little triglets i have placed the stick right across and i’m now going to pull that stick down pull the stick down and because this tree has been wired into the pot there are some wires in the pot and i’m going to use that as the anchor point and guide the wire down this is what we call guy wires you see you see how the whole thing is bending downwards and i haven’t had to wire any of the individual branches so just secure that washer i pull that pad down just by using a bamboo stick so i’ve got a flat pad growing there don’t let anything growing underneath remain we take them out so i’ve got this flat pad arrangement just by putting a bamboo stick across so you can do that for all the other branches too and there are lots of new shoots coming i cut the thick branches off at some point because they were too thick and too long so i cut the tree back headed it back i will show you the calcium that has occurred and this is a new shoot that is growing and this will be a nice back branch i can just guide it in the direction i want just by an open coil of water and use the right grade of water and i’m linking it to an adjacent branch i’m just making an open coil to guide it slightly away from the main branch so it fills the space at the back and although there’s a fork at the top it is not a defect because the overall effect is very pleasing a purist would say oh you really only need one going up at the top but because it’s just going to be the crown how does it matter it doesn’t matter one bit if there are too many branches i will take some of them out if you don’t take it out it will get very congested and again you may get inverse taper keep talking so much about inverse taper that can be a problem with deciduous trees too many branches growing from one point so this tree has had a lot of chops i will not show you the detail of the tree again you notice how little i’ve done to it and yet the overall effect is very pleasing so let’s show you another angle let’s take a close look at the tree now my first impression looking at the tree is that it’s leaning too much to the left and when i come to repotting the tree i may just tilt the tree a little bit if i can just show you by propping it up with a piece of wood you understand what i mean so here we go see i think the tree would look better if you just propped up to lean a little more to the other side to the right hand side so it’s only a tiny bit but this is where the potting angle is so important see if i can pop it a little more and see what effect it has i don’t want to do it too much now i put maybe like five degrees slope to it i think that looks more stable and pleasing so that is how the future of the tree will look like now let me just take a close-up of the tree so you see how it propped the tree up that’s going to be the future potting angle of the tree so that it’s not leaning too much to the left and i was telling you about this fork here at the top any other person would probably take one of them off but because it forms a nice crown i’m not bothered about it i’ll leave it because the overall shape is nice you don’t always have to have a single crown and i’ll show you where this tree has had some very severe cuts because i wanted to change the look of the tree see see how it’s callousing here this was only cut last year because i didn’t like the branch coming out from there so i cut it off and it’s healing very well these are the loose bits of wire i’m redirecting that branch it’s really an old tree you can see how the bark is fissured and mild and that is the formation of that pad to this side so it’s got like two heads this this is one one sort of semi apex and the main apex is at the top so this is really now my back which has many more branches to give it depth so this is not the side i’m going to use and the main side or the viewing side is going to be this side so this is the tree as it will be in future so when i put it back on the bench i’m going to pop it like like this so that it can grow in this direction so that’s another one done so very little needs doing but this is how we refine the maples constant pruning the long shoots to get shorter growth and more ramification now the next tree i want to show you is this deshojo most of the maples i grow i like to keep them about 60 to 70 meters tall 70 centimeter tall because this is the size that most of my customers like to have so this is the reason why i grow them in this size and these are produced hundred percent on our nursery and they’re grown from small trees grown in the field that they’re big and then i chop the top off and grow the branches again so all this has been grown uh these branches have been grown in last three years after chopping the top off so the trunk is not that thick but it’s still a very nice elegant looking tree so let’s see what i’m going to do and as always these long shoots look at this 40 to 60 centimeter long all these long shoots it’s almost 70 centimeter all grown since april of this year and if you don’t trim it it gets too low so the first thing i do is to just trim them back it helps to produce ramification even if i didn’t do anything else simply doing that would benefit the tree give it a roughly a dome shape and then i will go inside the tree to see how i can refine it better choosing the branches of all and creating the pants so this is how maples go if you don’t check it it will just become rampant and become a complete mess so i have more or less chosen the front like that i might when repotting change it slightly but basically this is the front so i know the branches are all over the place i will just refine some of the branches because they’re literally growing in every direction i want the branches all going outwards not inwards and of course while you have all these lovely branches growing it strengthens the branch makes the branch thicker we don’t want it too thick anything hanging down i don’t want so remember that there’s still a lot of growing season left i’m only in the first week in july so the fall of the summer is still left for it to grow so i still get lots of growth i don’t want anything spotting up too high see some branches are growing back on itself you don’t want that now these are just straggly shoots there do i want it i don’t need that why let the plant waste energy there so we take these off this tree has a lot of faults i’m not worried about it so it’ll be priced accordingly when we come to sell it the perfect tree would come out much more money i can just arrange the pads a little bit by wiring the strand out i do do a little bit of wiring just to help it along because left to its own devices the pads may not form in the way i want it to so these two branches are too close together i want to separate it so i’m going to separate it by just doing very light wiring in the form of a coil coiling it out so that the pad is flat and of course a herringbone shape so this is the pad here now this is very long i don’t need that shorten it anything growing downwards i don’t want anything going upwards i don’t want i just want it to go flat so those branches have been dealt with this is a fake branch because it’s mainly going this side but it’s filling the space here so i’ll leave it to fill this space here i’m not too worried about that and because the disjojo is mainly grown for its lovely red foliage in the spring in spring it is such a beautiful tree that whatever faults there are people tend to overlook the falls i may make the front somewhere here that i can always change at repotting time so in february when i repot this tree i will alter the front very slightly branch is doing nothing take it off so what i’m doing is directing the energy to the branches that i want to develop because if you just leave it to its own devices it will grow in the wrong direction and all the energy will be wasted in the wrong place why some of these i don’t need this so it’s really refining and choosing the branches i want now there’s a very funny branch there i don’t know whether you can see it that will come off let me bring the camera closer see this is the branch i’m talking about you see it’s growing in the wrong place filling the space there i don’t want it to go like that you see i don’t want to go there so i’m going to take that one off so this branch here is going to come off so you are literally refining the branch structure and this one is too straight i may just wire slightly down and see what happens is give a better shape to the crown so with why i’m going to wire that there’s a bit of dead branch there so i’m going to do that i don’t know whether you can see the detail but there are one or two dead tricks they’re taking out and this i’m going to wire downwards as i said all these are the prunings on this dish if anyone was here to take it and propagate they would get so many plots but i have too many maples anyways so i’m not going to propagate anymore as i say there’s a limit to what i can do and i shouldn’t be too greedy so at least i’m showing you that some of my maples i do wire although it’s not often i do it but i sometimes have to guide it along the right direction by wiring i think it only needs to be wired for about a year and it should be okay so this particular maple has got branches starting from quite high up but it will still be a pretty tree so this is not a very good what we call specimen so because it’s not such a pretty tree we won’t charge much for it so many people wonder why certain trees cost more than others and it’s because they look more beautiful so these cuts on the ceiling so that’s one done so in an evening it’s now about 10 past seven i’ve been working about one and a half hours or one and three quarter hours and i’ve gone through about three or four major trees and i’ve been fiddling with small trees as well so this is how i spend the evening refining the trees and that’s not all there is morticon [Music] you

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