Bonsai Maple Series Refining

In this video I talk about a large Benichidori and walk you through the different options there are when making decisions for this tree.

So i’m continuing my maple series of maple decisions and refining and you know doing major things to maples now this is not major this tree is in pretty good nick and it’s grown in all sorts of funny strange ways but overall it’s not a bad looking tree the base is very good good nibari it was repotted in a slightly larger oval pot in the spring so the base is good the trunk is good and the taper is very good not all the branches are of the same thickness so there could be a case for improving it but because this is a tree for selling i don’t want to do anything too radical to it because i’ve got to sell the tree and if i do radical things i’ll have to wait another four or five years before it becomes good again so looking at this tree again this i would say is the uh rare or the non-viewing side but as i’ve always said one should always keep an open mind because you never know whether what you originally chose as the front could have been the back so i’m looking at this tree again and the nebari there is not bad the only trouble is it’s got what we call a pigeon pigeon breast here a lump here if i look at it again from the other side the nebari here is also very nice so although this is the preferred front i may well stick with this and it’s already fairly open so i may well stick with this so what do i do when i look at a tree like this the first thing my way of doing it is to give it the overall conical or dome shape because that is the standard shape for most maples as bonsai as garden trees they may look different but this is how maples look best as bonsai and i don’t do anything else but this just a good overall shape and then i will look onto the inside to see how i can prove the inside and the tool i’m using are these scissors these are my favorite scissors it’s a japanese stainless tool scissors some people may in fact call it a root pouring scissors but flower rangers love it because they’ve got this lovely big handle to grip this is called the satsuki shears i don’t know why i said tsukishi is also a karishan japanese tool and this i’ve used for 29 years and it’s still as good as new this is also very nice tool but off late i prefer to use this tool because i can work much faster with this and because i work fast i find that this is even more convenient talking of working fast i recently had a customer who wanted me to prune his maple garden trees when i told him what i would charge for doing a whole load of trees in one evening he thought he was not getting good value so i don’t want to be insulted by doing that but when i work fast i do work fast people don’t appreciate those who know me think i’m worth more than my time so now let’s work on this fairly fast anyone else would take probably a whole week to do this but i’m going to do this maybe in less than an hour certainly less than an hour so i’ve more or less decided that i will go for this as the front i’ve cleared that overall shape created that overall shape just tidied the long ends and now i’ve got to go in and see what are the branches that are cluttering and you know spoiling the shape it still looks too bushy to me after all i always tell people that maples are delicate trees again i don’t want to be sexist with but for those of you who have been doing bonsai a long time and the likes of me who have been doing bonsai a long time we’ve always thought of maples as being very feminine now it is a credit to the female sex or the other sex that we call them feminine because they are beautiful in their own way and very delicate not coarse and rough like the male of the species is so to make it delicate we say that the birds should be able to fly through the branches and you should be able to look through the branches most deciduous trees i keep re-emphasizing have a tendency to spring upwards and you look at this branch here you see how it is springing upwards this is because it was left to its own devices and it started springing up if you look at this one now also this is tending to spring upwards it would look much better if it was taken down a little bit so that it creates the space so i’m going to do this to create space with this branch i know it’s thick but it is still possible to do it there’s so many ways of doing it but because there are two branches i may link the two branches together i could if i wanted to just tie it with the guy wire and attach it to the root and do it this way so i don’t use a wire on the branches so i could do it this but i’m going to use thick wire also looking at this branch by the way i’m glad i got josh here to do the videoing because if i were to self video i wouldn’t get the detail that i’m going to show you if you look at this one here can you see how this branch is going this way and this is shooting up so i don’t want this one shooting up so i’m going to take that off so that is a decision not many people would take in a hurry but this is a decision i can see straight away i can take off and this you can see is quite a major branch there okay so i’ve created a space by taking that one going upwards but i’m still faced with the problem of this bringing up so i can take another one here which is also springing up i take that off but this is still springing up so i’m going to deal with that also there are too many little shoots here in the pad cluttering the the front of the tree so i’m going to take that off anything going downwards i will also take off now i’m going to wire this and this perhaps it may be better just to do a guy one sometimes you’ve got to choose the best option and the best option for this is to use the guy wire now i’m going to show you how i’m going to attach the guy wire and because i’ve got a handy root here very convenient i’m going to take the wire through this root and then use this as the anchor point to pull that branch down and because i’m going to put it on one of these branches it could mark the branch so i’ve got to protect that brand from getting scar so what i do is i can use a bit of neoprene tubing like this or i can use a bit of old cycle tyre this is all protective material to protect the thing let me see if this works so this is a little tip you can always improvise and think of all sorts of things all horse pipe half inch hose pipe is also very good to use so what i’m going to do is i’m just going to put it over this so that it doesn’t mark it and then i will put the wire over it you can take it around one loop if you wish to give it more stability and then twist it like that and then we’re going to pull the branch down so we can help it a little bit like most of these operations you’ve got to judge how far you can stretch it if you go too enthusiastic you could break the branch so i’ve brought it down can you see i’ve pulled it quite a way down so i’ve created the space there so by creating the space and i’ll pin some more of these little twigs see this pad is far too dense so this is what ramification is all about you know constantly cutting the ends to create more ramification making sure that the branches are all going in the right direction if there’s too much see there’s far too much here such a lot of branches that don’t really need to be here and so this is the very nice pad formation that i’ve created okay so much for that one now let’s look at this one this one again it’s very dense anything going upward so i take off so i thinned it out don’t worry we are only in the third week in july there’s still a lot of growing season left so whatever i do now will still give me a lot of time for growth to take place and any correction that i need to make can be achieved in the remaining months of the summer i can’t decide whether to keep this branch or not you see if i remove it it may become too bare so i will probably keep it for now now this is another branch this is another very insignificant thin branch so do i keep this or not perhaps i’ll keep it for one i can always remove it at a later date now this is a very major dog can you see how thick it is and it’s springing upwards ideally it should be horizontal so let me see how i can reduce it without scalping it too much so i’m going to take some of the thin ones off anything growing downwards i will also take off [Applause] this i think is sprouting too high i’m going to take this off there’s a hole cluster of little treats can you see there are far too many there far too many so we’re going to thin some of them out it’s taking a lot of energy and if there are too many they would die anyway because lack of light so by thinning we are helping the tree to have better health and stronger trees so i’m looking at this as well this again far too much there absolutely cluttered in there so much clutter so this is what we call serious manicuring [Applause] now i noticed that there is this little branch there whether i need it or not i think it’s just grown hanging such a lot of upward growth again this is where because this is a tree i wish to sell i don’t want to scalp it too much if i scalp it too much i may lose a sale but again this is very dense at the back let me thin it a bit if it doesn’t work i may remove the entire branch altogether but i will do it in stages so you can see straight away i probably don’t need this one and i don’t need this one taken those two out this is a thin branch hanging down get rid of this i won’t remove any of those yet let me just thin some of these and see if i get on that’s a complete mess of branches shouldn’t be like that uh this is so dense i think there is a branch here i can take off just trust me i’m going to take this off quite major or not to open some space there so i’ve created a space there can you see how nice that is meanwhile just look at the amount i’ve cut so far look at that and i’m not even halfway through i know that to do a tree like this first of all you have to have a dense growing tree in order to refine it but there were some very major decisions and some of those decisions were frightening me even so if you feel intimidated you’re in good company and you always have to sometimes compromise you cannot follow the rule book you have to just go with the floor as they say now over here there’s another major branch you see how this one is springing up like that spring up there and then going there and when this was the pad so shall i take that out or not i’ve got to decide on that now let me turn it on and see this is really the back side now if i take that out will it affect the look of the tree [Applause] and that was the one at the back it’s at the back here at the back here but i also want to see if by removing it it will affect the other snow it won’t affect it so if we look at it from underneath you can see all these branches i’m going to take this one out this one out i’m going to take all that out look at that taking that out has it affected the tray no not in the least it’s thinned out you can see if you look straight it has tinned it as you can see through the tree so i’ve done that okay [Applause] anything hanging downwards i will take out see now you’re beginning to be able to look through the tree which is the main object of this exercise of course while it was growing dense in the early part of the great season it was strengthening the tree making the tree look and feel very strong so the tree has had the benefit of the growing process so it’s still a bit dense over there i need to thin a little bit in there now this is very dense the upper branch is cluttering the lower one not letting light in so i will take this out so i created a space there so light is able to penetrate there and it’ll be better for the lower branch if i had not done that the lower branch would eventually get weak and could even die so creating spaces between the branches is very very important and critical for the health of the tree now this is looking very very dense so let’s see what i can do to do this one because it’s so dense there is a thick shoot there and then take that out like that then i don’t think it has reflected it one bit still okay so i’ve cleaned it up i don’t want to add any more height to the tree so the apex is going to stay like that very often customers who have these maples they keep letting the top draw more and more and eventually it reaches the sky for want of a better expression and the proportions of the tree become lost i can create a little more space there because i’m reaching the apex or the dome part of the tree i don’t want it to be like a feather sticking out of your head i want it to be more rounded at the top so the dome is very important to give it maturity to mature look now i haven’t removed this small brush you know someone may consider removing but it gives a little bit of body to the front so it’s like a veil that the ancient dancers used to use you know they find a bit to show a bit and it adds to the mystery of the composition [Applause] so that’s very dense i can take some of this out [Applause] so it’s about thinning without scalping so it still looks a very full complete tree but look at the amount i have cut just look at this look at this look at the amount we’ve taken off from this tree all that taken out from this and this is how i’ve thinned this tree and you must admit it looks nice at least i think it’s nice another few people will give thumbs down just to be you know contrary and some of the cuts like this which are about pencil thick i’m going to use a paste although if you do it in summer it heals so fast you don’t always have to use it but just to be on the safe side i will use a bit of cut paste often when i pull my garden trees i don’t always use paste and they’re perfectly all right but as they say better to be safe than sorry so this is the back whoever buys this tree you may want to make it the front so this is the tree and this tree in the autumn has beautiful color beautiful ultimate color so there you are a detailed exercise in refining a mountain maple and we’ll go on to something else right continuing our series of creating and refining maples this for those of you who are familiar with maples is what we call the rough park sometimes called the pine bark maple and the japanese name is harakawa arakawa mapu so these are trees that we produce ourselves in the field if you go into our growing fields we have maybe 20 or 30 of these trees tall trees about 10-15 feet tall and i keep layering the branches to make more and more trees and as with all my naples this again is reminiscent of peter chan split trunk maple where veers to the side and another branch comes this way that is my signature style and i can’t help it that is how my trees are made so again i create the dome shape so you can see it’s been growing in this back greenhouse for a long time to get it strong but i don’t want it to run away and i want all the energies to keep going to the top otherwise if you leave the side shoot growing they will get too big now again if i wanted to i could have made cuttings but how much can i make you know i run out of space this greenhouse is already chock-a-block so what i will do is i’ll give a rough prune i’m always scared of using my falco secretary because so that’s so sharp that one false move it will take your finger off so i’m going to cut these back now this branch is growing very strong you always get one branch which can become a dominant and once they become dominant nothing else will grow and you will lose control bonza is all about keeping control because we want to style the trees in a particular way if you don’t control it i hate to use the word control you will not be able to create the shapes you want so in bonsai we’re using plants as the medium of expression just as a sculptor would use a piece of wood or a piece of marble to sculpt the shapes so we’re using plants to sculpt the shapes of trees that we want to grow in a particular fashion it applies to all gardening gardening is all about keeping the shape keeping the things neat and tidy now this is hiding the front a little bit so i probably don’t need so much of this there let it go again so i’ve controlled the vigor of this branch this branch is okay now this one is growing too long so if i head it back a little bit sometimes it’s quite heart-wrenching for me to cut off all the growth that i’ve taken so much trouble to develop so should i cut it or not but as we say at some point peter chain chord you’ve got to bite the bullet and take a decision you can’t let it go on forever so i’m controlling the vigor of the bottom branches i want the vigor to go more to the top it has never been shaped or wide it’s just been allowed to grow naturally i think it’s time i brought these branches down just a little bit i want this to be the apex see left to their own devices you see how the branches go vertical you don’t want that i want them to go straight after the horizontal that’s the tendency of most trees they tend to shoot upwards like if i want to make this case i don’t control that i just let that draw unchecked develop that as the effects control this arakawa by the way has one of the most beautiful red colors in the autumn i always think there’s nothing to beat the r color for color that and uh osaka zuki has got very lovely color and by the way i’m not doing a special video about cuttings if you want to make cuttings i should be doing a separate one about cutting otherwise people look for the videos about cutting and i can’t find it but i showed as i go along the best cuttings are made from current seasons wood remember you can’t be greedy if you think that you can stick a thick piece and hope it to root it will not root i’m not saying it will never root you can use very strong hormone rooting powder liquid to make it root but that would be called a hardwood cutting far easier to use what we call current seasons wood so wood like this this shoot has been produced in the last month or so so it is still semi-hard not entirely hard so you break a heel cutting like that take the bottom leaves off all you need is to leave one or two pairs of leaves and that would make an ideal cutting so you stick this in hormone rooting powder and insert that much into the soil now supposing this is a potting tray this is not it’s just my tray for the soil so if that is the length of the cutting you should stick at least half of it into the soil and then water it in so that is the ideal cutting the other way to make a cutting is to use what we call a nodal cutting now what is a nodal cutting now the heel cutting is when you pull it off like this and that is the heel if you want to make a nodal cutting you can cut it just below the node these points are called the node you cut it below there and then remove those leaves and you dip this in hormone rooting and that would be a perfect cutting but i find from experience that the heel cuttings are far easier to root than the nodal cutting so here there are several hundred cuttings but as i say i don’t have the space to make all the cuttings so i’m just going to throw those away so i’ve controlled the shape and i’m trying to direct the energies to the top and this in time is going to be a very nice specimen power power maple this as i said has been training from the field for the last 20 years so the tree would probably about 30 to 35 years old the length of time i’ve been here so we go these in the field at field grown trees and then we chop it down and progressively create the branches so this how we make these maples and as i say this is a classic peter chan image of style where you get like almost like a twin trunk growing one to the left one to the right if you look at the images of my trunk maple all my maples tend to be that style so there you go that’s another exercise for you to enjoy [Music] you

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