Refining Japanese Maple Tree Bonsai in Early February


Japanese Maple Tree Bonsai

So i have a selection of maples that have already been put in pots and i’m just going to show you what i’m going to do with each of these let’s look at each of them in turn now this one i put in pots in the greenhouse because i want to resuscitate it and make new growth it was growing a bit too tall so i cut the top off when i cut the top of i always leave a stub in case it dies back further but i know that it won’t go back any further now so this one i think is one of the yasa boosters very small leaf ones because the internodes are very small so this one if we come close you see that there’s one torch shoot there that can become the new leader so that being in the center would be a very nice useful leader so the question is should i cut it or not i can easily cut it there and make a nice rounded small tree but if i want to make this leader thicker i will just let that grow unchecked also while i’m looking at this tree this dead piece it’s not serving any useful purpose so let me bring a saw and cut some of that off is the saw here so you must be wondering why i’m cutting it now i’m doing it now because during the growing season it will get a chance to callous and it will heal properly and i will therefore get a nice callousing effect and i don’t want to waste the coming year so i’m cutting it if i leave it it won’t callous the the dead piece will eventually fall off but i can assist it by cutting it something as thick as this which is about three quarter inch thick i prefer to use a saw rather than nibble away with a branch cutter you can do it either way and then once you’ve done that you can then use a branch cutter root cutter or whatever to to refine it so let me just see what tool i have handy so so i can’t find my branch cutter but i got a root cutter that’ll do the trick so it’s just to pair it till i get to the green part which is the live bit and then once it heals over it’ll blend in with the rest of the tree and i will get a very good taper all these trees by the way are actually grown on the nursery if you’ve been around my growing fields we literally have thousands of maples in all different stages of development so that gives you a nice taper that way so i will still have more training to do i can if i want to wire these out a little bit i will also show you that i will put some cut paste on it just to help it to callus there’s a lot of controversy about whether cut paste has any effect some people believe that you don’t have to put any paste but i think from experience the cut paste does hasten the process so this is the japanese cut paste there are many different types of cut paste so i won’t do more than that to this tree i will just leave it to go on let’s look at the next one now this is another one you see we are very fond of growing these stumpy little trees to make them what we call smaller shohin bonsai so that leader potential leader there died so that’s not doing anything because these trees are quite old the wood is quite hard i may just let this die over a period of time and not rush it the only trouble with cutting too close to live bits of wood is that it can cause die back on the live branches so sometimes it’s you know better to just leave it alone so this is another candidate for a door for a shohan tree this is growing inward so i don’t want that so probably just let this rot in this case and when it rots it’ll form a nice uh natural callus you see how this has callus there you get that effect so this tree if i want to make a show in i could make it make this the leader and wire these out now this one i probably won’t let these grow add infinitum because i may lose control i may just keep the central one and i will just prune these bits off maybe even prune this and just let it grow into a broom style so the branch development is more even so that is how this is going to progress now let’s look at another one these are all the same style trees that we are developing stumpy short trees not too tall invariably you find some die back but that’s not a problem i can always get new leaders to grow see once you’ve come into the live wood you see the green there so where the dead bits are take out so this how we keep producing taper and that will take over and become the new shoot with maples you always get little twigs that die back don’t worry about that that is typical of maples so in the spring you will get some shoots which are dead because the winter is quite hard by the way smaller maples i do protect a little bit the larger ones i leave outside to stand in the cold so this one because it’s a fine leaf tree and fine twigs i’m going to just give it a share all around to make it produce new shoes because i want to stimulate growth here that’s why i’m pruning this if i didn’t prune it it will keep growing long that way so with these trees i know that if i do this i’m going to force growth coming here so that is that one done so that’s number three now this is another one with a lovely curly trunk and again the wood is dying naturally the way the wood has died it’s very nice and natural so i will probably leave it you see i’ve also done a little bit of wiring because the branch was shooting up too much but i find that some of these branches have died so let’s take the wire off the other thing which i’ve discovered with larches i don’t know why it only happens with larch that if you put wire on the branch and leave it outside in the winter the winter cold is transmitted to the wire and the wire transmits it to the branch or the trunk and it causes the branch to die that’s something i’ve noticed for the last 40 years only with larch that means if you leave wire on it can cause the twigs or branch to die i noticed that there was a dead twig there now this has become a bit one-sided i want to if i use the tree this way i can wire that down a little more ideally i want something to grow that way so i can put a little bit of wire and produce the tree with more balance filling the space there so that is another one done so these as i said to you are all these very dumpy trees where i keep them just this size i don’t want them bigger than this i will show you larger ones in a minute so again here i have one or two dead trees these dead twigs are typical of maples and because this is already producing a nice canopy there i don’t want it to become too much of a fan shape so i’m cutting it back to shape like that and hopefully i’ll get more of a head over there and again the top has died over there and i can proceed to cut either with a saw to create a better callus now this one i got to be careful because the angle is awkward i may need to nibble away with uh very carefully nibble away with a branch cutter but i just get josh to cut that carefully certain trees have very hard wood the chinese elm or all elms have very hard wood the other tree that has hard wood i’ll just turn the camera around is the cornice look at these lovely flowers on the corners they’re just about to bloom just about to bloom these yellow flowers and this cornice or dogwood is very hard someone told me one of our youtube fans said that dogwood is just a i think different way of pronouncing dagwood all you do is use for making tools dagger dog so that’s why the wood is so hard so josh has very skillfully pruned that off my saws are getting blunt so i have to change it so the rest i will cut with the branch cutter so that is the work we do on these trees now looking at some of these trees in the winter you often get traces of insects or bugs which can be on the stems if you look carefully those little white bits are like insects some sort of scale so you’ve got to watch it very carefully in japan they use the lime sulphur as a winter wash a spray to kill the bugs they still do it but i think lime sulfur is too toxic a chemical to use for spraying so i don’t do that look at this one i noticed that on this piece there’s a lot of that white i think it with a microscope or a magnifying glass you’ll see that they are insects so what do i do i use an ordinary you know bug killer you can get this from any sort of garden center and just spray it on these branches and hopefully it will kill any dormant bugs that are there many of my eco friends tell me that you shouldn’t use chemical but i find that without chemical it’s very hard to get on top of all the bugs in the nursery and there are others who also suggest using soapy water or washing up liquid i don’t think that works i’ve tried for a long time but i don’t think that little trick works with me it may work with you but i don’t think it generally works i think insecticide is you know more effective so they go at least i’m not killing bees there are no bees at all so i’m just killing these bugs so let me now go to some of the other maples and show you what we are going to do with the other maples so in this greenhouse there are literally hundreds of maples and they are all beginning to grow this is the time when i have to keep an eye on what i want these shoots to develop into if i just look at this one these are our home grown trees this is a typical homegrown maple that we have grown in the field and this has been grown for a taper so this tree was cut over there and you see that i put paste on it so it’s callusing nicely so the taper is developing very nice and this has been grown long to create the taper the reason why i haven’t cut it back and i’m still not going to cut it this year is because the longer i leave it this will thicken quicker and i’ll get a better taper this will get thick so it’ll blend in with this part sooner than if i cut everything off now see i already cut one here i cut there cut there but i’m now going to leave it to pull the sap up to make it thick and maybe next year if this becomes thick i will then cut it back to there so the maple is going to be this high so this tree i’m not going to leave i’ve got to tell my staff not to cut it because some some of them think that they’re doing me a favor by cutting it but they don’t realize what i’m leaving it for now this trident maple for instance there’s some long shoots i’m leaving some of these long branches for either in arching or whatever and so not all the shoots are going to be cut on that one so sometimes when you see long shoots they’re being left for a purpose this is another of our homegrown trees so now that one that branch is doing nothing that’s stupid there isn’t it i want more of a broom style so that one i cut off because i don’t want the energies to go that way and because it’s getting quite good ramification i can afford to do this one now because this will become quite a nice little broom style so that one i’ve cut what else is there now this is a tree that i’m growing on for making ramification so you see that there’s such a lot of twigs there but because it’s a mature tree i can afford to prune some of these back these were all produced i think than the latter part of the year so just by constantly pouring it back to shape i will increase the ramification it’s as simple as that just go around the tree and prune it to the shape and keep doing it for the rest of the year and you will get a lot of ramification on that tree now this is another case in point these trees oh look at it growing in moss and in the gravel the roots have come right through so peter chan’s most trick look at the roots that are coming through and the roots are vigorous like this because i’m growing this tree in sphagnum moss so i’ve done it deliberately to get more growth so all this is sphagnum moss i’ve not used soil it’s just growing in moss so growing in moss creates a more vigorous tree and you get a stronger tree last year i put a bit of wire on because i didn’t want the branches to spring up too much with maples unfortunately the wires do mark i know that leaving the wire marks on pines and junipers gives it a now look but with maples wire marks are not necessarily nice so you’ve got to keep an eye on the wire marks on maples so this tree i’ve been developing you won’t believe for the last maybe 10 years it was getting too tall so i chopped it off there i chopped it off there took side branch and made this the new leader so this is being restyled over the last 10 years a long long time and this is going to be the future tree i know that it will take a long time but i still have to decide on the possible front or the back hard to tell at this stage i think i can take this branch down there and make it but you can see the ramification at the top how it’s coming along and there’s some wire marks here because i wired this flat to get this branch going out this way so this is how the tree is being developed you see i used a little bit of wire to flatten that one and i will just keep pruning these back to get more ramification this one i’ll wire this way and i’ll develop this branch to make a new branch there so this is how this tree is going to be developed so every tree i’ve got to look at and see what the pruning schedule would be for each and every tree let’s look at this one there’s so many trees at random that we can pick out now this one is probably just an ordinary palmatum and if that is the front we don’t want some of these i want to re-grow some of these branches and because it’s already getting good ramification i don’t need more i may develop this one into a new leader but these long shoots i just go and keep pruning it back to the shape so the more i prune the more ramification i’m going to get i’m leaving some of these so that it pulls this up so i get a stronger central shoot there this one i’ll leave because i want that to become a strong branch so that is what i would do with that one now arakawa or the rough bark maple a lot of people love that tree i love it very much but i find that with arakawa the leader invariably dies very hard to keep the leader alive when it’s grown as a bonsai so this one i’m re-growing the top and i’m trying to restyle it so i’ve created new branches so i don’t want some of these long shoots to keep growing so each year i let the long shoots grow and then i cut it back or prune it back to make it create more and more ramification this is unusual because the leader has not been affected it is growing quite well so by doing this i’m going to increase more side shoots so you can see the structure of this tree coming along i will now show you another arakawa i have several towers they’re all being regrown we need to lift this out and again this is growing in moss because i want more growth we’re growing it and moss stimulates the trees so i get more growth so you can see how vigorous this tree their old leader unfortunately died so this was the original leader but the rest of the tree is quite strong so this is a new leader growing so i’m not going to cut this one off it’s going to be a nice low growing spreading tree and in nature you get lots of trees like this so uh let’s take this to the bench to show you closer so this is the arakawa you can see it’s quite a large tree and with these low spreading branches it does remind me of quite a lot of these ancient oaks that we get in england for those of you who haven’t been to england you know that some of these mighty oaks grow in these great big public parks and they have these beautiful shapes because they’re all like 3 4 six seven eight hundred years old there’s one oak in lingfield which is about eight to nine hundred years can you turn it upside down and you can see growing in moss look at the roots on that growing in pure moss sphagnum moss so moss may be expensive but it’s a lovely thing for uh using to stimulate the growth of trees so a lot of these stubby things which are dead we can cut it off and clean it let me just look at the ramification on this now because i’m going to aim to produce a low spreading tree i don’t want these branches to get too long if i didn’t prune it they will get longer and longer so lots of lovely ramification i may grow the central shoot more to get a good leader but with this sort of growth there’s no problem getting new branches to grow so these can be cut off these can be cut off now this leader which died you see i’m growing a new leader because the original top died these by the way i imported from japan about 15 20 years ago but for some reason the leaders have a tendency to die they always have a tendency to die i don’t know why that is but that is the nature of arakawa certain trees behave in a certain way even that is in the way i don’t need that so we’re going to cut this now this one here i’m going to get josh to cut it many people when they make a cut they like to make a sloping cut like that i’ve found that over the years if you make a sloping cut too soon you may get die back there that’s why i left this so that the new leader grows so if you make a sloping cut and hope that you get a new shoot at that point it won’t happen so even at this stage i’m not going to get too close in case the top dies so i’ll just cut over there and let it die back gradually and maybe next year when this is stronger i will then cut that back so this is completely that disk we can remove so the future of the tree is going to be this way and this going to be a nice low spreading tree i think it’s got quite a nice base too and this hopefully will become a much stronger tree so we proceed to cut this you can go little lower than that here that was quite soft because it’s rotten already isn’t it i think you can probably go a little more can do another half inch still soft still dead that’s doing nothing i think we can cut a little more so we’re progressively cutting just to another quarter and see where we get i think if we left it to nature that would gradually fall off it will rot away and fall off you notice that whenever we use these saws we always use a glove very dangerous to use source without a glove so be warned okay i see it goes down to there goes on to there we will nibble it with a branch cutter and see what happens or even use a [Music] root cutter yeah the water’s rotten so it’s quite soft see this usually dies back to a point where the callusing will take place automatically so we don’t have to worry too much so this basically is how we create taper as i said a lot of people who are not familiar with bonsai they all say oh why do you keep chopping the tree you know i’m afraid the only way to make taper is this way so you’ll die back to a point where it won’t die anymore and the rest will take over i don’t want to press my luck i won’t go as far as i need to i think this one i may just let it rot away naturally i won’t even put paste on it i won’t take cut it with paste arakawa has this lovely bark and you notice that the bark gets that craggy surface only when the branch is old see these young bar pieces already like four five years old they don’t even bark yet they don’t get crusty so they got to get really old to get crusty this is an odd one how to get it off use a branch cutter the saw doesn’t sit in there surprised how hard that is so this is going to be a low spreading tree so that is the shape it’s almost like a low growing broom and that will be in a nice shallow oval pot would make it look nice so we’re keeping the front open so this is the front of the tree so i’m going to grow this for at least another two or three years and then cut it back and then create more ramifications so this how this one is going to grow so let me just look at one or two more so that you get a feel for what i’m doing with the maples there are quite a few arakawas here which have had their tops die see that’s another one the top has died so we’re growing this side shoot this another one that top has died so these were all imported about 10 or 15 years ago and as they got older they died but i’m regrowing them to restyle it so that’s not the end of the world so whenever you see things happening like that don’t panic it is not the end of the world as we say some of these are quite advanced trees so there’s a lot of lovely ramification i don’t need to do anything to them we will just tip the extremities so that it creates even more ramification many of these are fear grown trees like these were grown from very young in the field and then created into bonsai uh like that one that is one of our fear grown trees that’s taken about 30 years to grow complete with its own nebari all created here [Music] and if i can just show you here although they are not japanese maples these are tried and maples these tried maples you must be wondering why i’m leaving this very long shoot it’s because i want to create more taper and i’ll probably cut it back to there so that’s why it’s been left to go like that maybe i can do it now because it’s had its uh effect i can now cut it there so i’ve added two inches to that tree so this how we deal with most of these maple sorry so that is a very thick branch so i’ll cut it back very lightly and there are two leaders there one is going that way one is going that way i don’t want both of them so let’s take this one out and so this is going back like that so the tape was not bad so i’ll cut it there and that’s the future direction of that tree so you can see how long winded the process is this is another large example of one of my specimens i like making big trees despite what some of these japanese growers think now this tree is almost like 1.2 meter at least maybe 1.3 meter tall it’s a twin trunk and i’m growing it tall and i keep tipping it to create the ramification see look at that look at all those shoots there now that’s a strong branch this is going to strengthen that branch i can probably wire that down but i don’t need that bit so i cut that off and then i will wire that flat like this by the way at this time of the year if you cut maples they will bleed bleed meaning that they will create a lot of sap or like water running through the twigs those of our swedish friends who are watching will know that with silver birch at this time of the year when you cut the branches of silver birch you get a sap and they make wine out of that sap or you can just drink the water same with the maples you know there’s a sap rising that is a natural process the tree is starting to pump the liquids up into the stems to create new growth and don’t worry about the bleeding it will bleed for a couple of days and then naturally stop so if you see lots of water coming out of the twigs of maples when you pruned it in the very early spring that’s all part of the normal process so these are all different maples as i say in different stages of training this again is typical of the field grown trees we grow them in the field and then we chop it let it rot and this is going to be like a twin trunk tree so that’s how it’s going to develop so we know exactly what we’re going to do with these although it may not be apparent to you even these ones were air layings from the big benichidoris and occasionally you’ll see a very thick piece of wire like this one for instance you will see on that one i’ve used a fairly thick wire to take the branch down because if you didn’t do that the tree will start producing vertical branches like this one even i did it i’ve got to do it again to get the flat to get these branches going flat they were wide can you see the wire marks that’s grown out even these were wired to get it to go flat so you’ve got to use wire to get that effect so i’m filling that space so this is going to be a nice tree lovely nibari there again one of our few grown trees because i’ve been here for 35 or 36 years all these are the fruits of 30 or more years of growing so you keep seeing more and more there’s another few grown tree grown in a flower pot that’s the first stage of training a bit of wire there and if i don’t want it too long i cut that back get it in a broom shape encourage this leader to grow thick get a better taper and this one you can see i didn’t put any cut base and i cut it horizontal rather than a sloping cut and it will die back naturally to that sloping area and as it dies the wood will rot away naturally so i didn’t use any cut base on that one so it just shows you don’t always have to use cut base on on some of these trees this by the way is air layering i hate to keep flitting from one subject to another these were this was earlier last year look at that look at the roots on that air layering horn beam so this will be potted up i’ll take it out and put it up and then we select the branches so just to show you what we do with air layerings these are the maple seedlings that we have look at that this is a three-year-old seedling tall as me nearly two meters see so if i want to make this a big strong tree i will just keep letting it grow without any pruning so that it pulls the sap up and makes the trunk thicker there are other trees i will show you and that is the air layering i did last year you saw the youtube video on that one so you’ll be seeing that this was an air layering from two years ago disjojo twin trunk so this is not yet showing signs of growth but it will soon show signs of growth now these are quite interesting projects here my goodness i put that gravel down only in autumn and already roots have gone through now what am i doing here they’re all like this you notice that these s-shaped maples look at them all i’ve got several of them and they’re all literally like clones look at that all this growth about 1.2 meter in the last year so you can get lots of results very quickly and the whole object of letting it grow is that i’m pulling the taper up so that’s how it’s grown i think it’s grown enough i will cut that off and then because i’ve added the height it was only this high about 30 centimeter i added another 20 centimeter so i now have a 50 centimeter tall tree so from here on i will just keep it to that height and let this thicken these lower branches will thicken the base of the trunk so i’ve added another 20 centimeters in just one year so this is another tree this is a rather tricky one because it’s got like a leader there leader there so what do i choose i can choose this one so let’s take this off sometimes you got to take a quick decision take that off take that off but they grow so fast that you can change the shape within a year another one this is how i’ve got to do look at all those shoots so this is an inward growing branch i don’t want if there are too many branches like here there are two there why would i want that one i’ll keep just one of them if you have too many branches there remember you create inverse taper so you got to watch that too many twigs will cause the effect called inverse taper and this also is a very strong branch going that way if you don’t watch it this can become a new leader so i will take out this vigorous one and keep the weaker one now this one is also creating a new leader here you see how strong it is i should take that off otherwise it will take over the tree and you lose the taper that you’re trying to create so this is going up that way i don’t need to grow it bigger than that this is as big as i want the tree to be and the rest is going to be thickening the branch so we got to look at all these trees there are about 10 or 20 of these so that’s how that’s been growing and i will show you some trees which are what we call a bit of a problem these are our few grown trees and i cut the top off last year although i made a straight cut part of it died so that’s growing but no matter i can make this the new leader this will become the new leader i can cut that off and forget all these side shoots and then i’ve got a maple that thick and then create the shape from there so it may seem a long process but that is how it is actually done what else can i show you while i’m here every tree every situation is different this believe it or not was an air layering i did years ago that’s why it’s so dumpy and it’s going to be grown as a dumpy tree and i will just keep trimming it to keep it a short dumpy tree and because you could earlier thick branches very little root so this is growing well let’s just take you for a walk all these are maples that we have pulled out from our field they’re grown in the field and put in pots so these are going to be further refined get more branches and that’s how we make our maples so as i say we are self-sufficient in maples virtually all the maples bar the very old ones are created here they’re all created here even these were big field grown trees that we dug up on the way to becoming bonsai the rest of these are specimen trees many of the trees i’m changing the shape like this great big maple this is a big mountain maple so i cut the top off because it was too tall that was almost six foot two meter tall so i cut it down to about a meter so new branch is being pulled up to make the leader so that’s what’s being done to that one i’ll just show you the flaws of the cornice mess while we’re passing look at it beautiful while i’m passing by i will just show you some of the projects we did last year this is the famous tanooki juniper see how strong it is i’m going to do a separate video showing the results of all the past experiments during the past year this is another tanooki that i did last year see how strong they are it’s only done like nine months ago so everything ah this is the one that i split with a cleaver you remember the one i use with an axe and i split the tree i’ll show you the other part this is the other part this is the small part and already the buds are coming and it might even flower so this is going to be a cute little bonsai i promise this to someone from sweden and she will get it so this is the tree that we split with the axe and look at it it’s got flower buds i will film it when the flowers come if you take close uh picture those are flower buds so the literati with the great big axe has survived well so all our projects survive so i hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour there are more maples everywhere those have got good ramifications so we continue to ramify them i think we showed some of these projects as a mighty twin trunk which was originally a five or four trunk but i decided to make it a twin trunk so i hope you’ve learned something from this maple exercise in mid-february [Music] you

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