Learn How to Create “S” Shape Maples & Clump Style Bonsai

In this video I take 3 year old maples and show you how to create an s-shape and also make a clump style from these trees.

I brought these bonsai maple seedlings in to show you what you can do with them now these maple seedlings are grown for us although we sew our own maples when we saw our maples we don’t grow them so vigorously these are grown by specialist growers who really specialize in maples and a large maple like this which i showed you on another video that i was doing how tall is this this is nearly nearly five foot tall and this is only two years old i believe or three years old so the first aid was here and then chopped and then all this growth more than four foot has grown this year so they do grow at the rate of knots now just to show you it’s like people you know they all grow at different rates these are the same age and you see absolutely the same age why is one small and one large it’s difficult to explain it’s just that some people have stronger genes i suppose so you get all sorts so with the mixture of this uh several thicknesses and types uh let’s see what we can do look at this this is absolutely tiny how can you compare the two it’s absolutely the same age so let’s show you what we do with these when you have a thick maple like this what i would do is i just grow them in bigger and bigger pots or plant them in the ground to thicken the trunk and i would say in three or five years time i would have a complete bonsai when it reaches to this thickness they’re very very hard to bend there are some growers who grow maples in the s shape the informal upright shape this is a very good example beautiful s-shaped mountain maple look at the beautiful s there and to get that s shape you’ve got to work with trees that are really thin you can’t bend this anymore if you try to bend this it would snap so forget about this even if you try to bend something like this would be quite difficult it would snap so if you want to create those s shapes you got to get them slightly thicker than a matchstick and that’s the ideal size for bending it so let me show you how we would do that the s shape is a very popular shape as you know and there are many people who like it i like it very much but it’s hard to make and in in japan the mountain naples are generally not wired into an s but those that are wired into a nest apparently are quite sought after so let me just cut this piece of wire and show you what we do well i don’t need the tree that tall so i just wrap it loosely i wrote one wrap it tight don’t wrap it tight so this is one case where when we’re wiring the trunk we keep it a bit loose it’s just to guide the growth remember that if you leave the wire on too long on a maple they do mark so maples are very susceptible to being marked so do be careful about that so it’s this thickness of maple that you can wire into the s shape so that is the s you can make with maples now once you wired it transfer it into a bigger pot either a bigger flower pot or a bonsai training pot and put them on gradually in stages so that is how the s-shaped maples are made now what else can we do with these of course you can make the forest which i showed you on another video but the s-shape of course is popular so that is the best option if you wanted to grow them just as ordinary maples without any shaping supposing a tree like this you want to start training it as a bonsai you just cut all that off what a shame cut three four feet off and just bring it down to this height and then let the side shoots grow if you don’t prune the leading shoots it will keep shooting to the sky and you won’t get any side branches if you stop it it will force the side shoots to grow so this is what i would do with this one but if i wanted to make it into a tall garden tree or get the trunk to get even thicker i would not touch it at all plant it in the ground and let it just race away and grow unchecked so that is the option i would do another very popular thing to do with these young maples is to grow them in the clump style the clump style you should really try and choose trees that are of the same provenance very hard to decide although at this time of the year when you see them in leaf choose the leaves which are fairly similar these were obviously grown from different types of seed so you wouldn’t really know without looking you see the colors are different now if i planted them in a clump i remember buying some clumps from japan years ago about 30 years ago and quite a few of them when they get into autumn the separate trunks all have different colors and this is because they joined you know trees of different varieties together in the summer they would look alright because they’re all green but come the autumn the telltale signs are that you will get maples of different colors or clumped with different colors every stem has a different color i’m trying to choose leaf shapes which are same so these two leaf shapes are fairly similar so i can use these two i wouldn’t use that one because it’s got a purple stem i think it’s just more like a uh outro and then there’s another one which is fairly similar leaf shape so i would choose that so you be careful what you choose also it is advisable to choose maples which are fairly similar in thickness if you use some which are thick and some which are thin what would happen is that you might get the large trees swamping the little ones and when that happens the little ones will die because the big ones will take over so that is nature in its raw form you know doggy dog survival of the fittest and that sort of thing so let’s see how we tackle the clump style because it’s getting near autumn time i’m just going to bring a rake we can at this time of the year tease the roots quite a bit almost making it bare the leaves are about to fall so that doesn’t matter you shouldn’t do this in this summer you can do it in a very early spring but not in the middle of summer so i’m trying to bare root it i’m trying to find trees fairly similar thickness and trees which are almost the same shape a lot of people tried to make too much of a mystique about creating these multi-trunk styles but there’s nothing to it really the japanese term for this as you know i’m not a great lover of using japanese terms japanese terms are used by japanese people and bonsai is universal so you don’t have to use japanese terms the japanese call it kabudachi so if you did that for instance you would get a twin trunk tree and if you put one more so that it comes out like that that would make your triple trunk now how would you keep it together i think if you just tie a piece of wire lightly and make sure the wire marks don’t uh mark the tree and then to make it more manageable we’re going to cut all that lovely growth off don’t worry it’ll grow again and then simply again put it in a training pot or a big flower pot or you can even plant it in the flower bed or in the ground when we used to go to japan back in 1989 1990 there used to be a grower i can’t remember his name i think it was called ishiguro and he specialized in planting these clump styles so this how you would make a clump style you could put five trees seven trees or whatever but the advice is to try and keep them similar thickness don’t try and match a really thick tree with a thin tree because as sure as hell the big tree will swamp the little ones and it will kill them so let me just show you what i’m going to do these are all fairly similar thickness i will do a five clump here’s my little robin again they’re really scavengers because they’re scavenging for these little earthworms and other grubs that are in the soil i think the robin is a classic british bird always likes to come in the garden okay we don’t need them that tall so i’m going to cut some of these short some people try to make clumps by sowing seeds together and letting the seeds germinate that is one way of doing it but i wouldn’t say it’s the best way because you don’t have any control over the way the trees actually grow they will grow in a haphazard manner at least like this you can make them lean or grow out whichever way you wish you can do this with so many different species i used to do it a lot with japanese larch because japanese larch was a very popular species and when i first started the nursery before importing anything the only plants i could buy cheaply were japanese large so i used to use a lot of large and among some of the styles was the very simple style like this the clump style i still have one or two clumps knocking around i will show you they were imported from japan 30 years ago it’s one of these things you wish you had four hands so you can adjust it till you see it looking right you see you don’t want any crossing you want them all coming out radially like that so once you’ve got that sort of formation all you do is put it in a flower pot and it should grow i’m not going to sell these the trouble is every time i make a video people come to the nursery and see the plants oh i recognize this you did it on youtube i want to buy it but i must resist selling these and i’m going to show you the progression of these trees so this is how you do the clump style and so if you wait a minute i will show you some examples of the proper ones that come from japan so here’s a clump that i imported from japan about 30 years ago and they’re all made from separate trees and you must be wondering why four they seldom use the even numbers there’s usually three five or sevens so one tree has obviously succumbed or been killed by the others so this is one example let me show you another example these will go back in the bonsai pot and this one i’m restyling and re-growing because it was getting too tall so i cut it back so look at this one now this one has again got four but there one of the trees has died it happens so don’t blame yourself because very often you get trees that are very vigorous and it swarms the other one now this one i think this one is dying so i think i will cut that out and make it like a triple so these trees are all being restyled because as they grow they change and i will show you what i’m going to do with this after i’ve done it i’ll come back to you so this one has been grown in a basket in moss so you can see all those lovely roots and in the spring it’s going to go back in a bonsai pot as i say i’m in the middle of changing the style of this tree because it was growing too tall and too lanky so we’re reducing the leaders all the leaders are going to be reduced in height some more going to do and one tree i can see is dying so let’s take it out so it happens so don’t blame yourself so hard to get the tool in there that’s the trouble with growing clump style it’s very hard to keep all of them alive this i find is quite common with clumps so what i would do with this tree is we would grow this as the front portion this is going to be front so it’s going to be a lovely triple like that so i want rush to pot it up so that’s going to be the triple trunk for this tree so that’s going to be a triangular shape like so and this will take on a new lease of life but as i said our major repotting of maples is done in early february so these are all going to be kept aside till early february same with this we may do some carving this is really old so this got a different character although it’s got four trunks i don’t think it detracts from the beauty of this tree it is really beautiful so there you go [Music] foreign

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