Japanese Maple 2014

JM beforefront There is a bonsai in there some where. I think?

JM beforeback This 20 year old tree is a classic example why Japanese Maple bonsai should be grown slowly. In todays world where “instant gratification is too slow” we tend to get in a rush and overlook quality. This tree was field grown and trunk chopped twice, has bar branching and cluster branching, long internodes and straight branches. The most redeeming feature is that the  trunk is pretty fat with some lower movement.

The first thing to do is find the front, first and second branch, etc.. “RULES. WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING RULES!”. Actually rules can make finding “the tree within” a little easier.

JM squirrel damage Choosing the front was easy. We are trying to hide the ugly in back. Here you can see squirrel damage to the trunk. It has started to heal but still has quite a way to go.

JM trunk chop1 The first trunk chop has healed over but is slightly misshapen. Jm trunckchop2 The second trunk chop has not healed and is covered with cut paste. I tend to go overboard with cut paste.

JM branch removal As you can see I removed a lot of unnecessary branches.


JM root crossover A large root has crossed over another.

JM root removal A quick clip and problem solved.

JM bareroot

After I trimmed the roots you can see that there are two major roots with a very high crotch. I want to bury the roots up to the crotch to hide it which basically eliminates any nebari.

JM final front Finally I repotted the tree. It still needs to be a little deeper in the pot, but that will happen next repotting. I will have to graft subbranches on a few of the main branches since their internodes are 3 to 4 inches long. The internode is the distance between the leaf nodes, which are the only place leaves can bud on Japanese Maples.

If you have noticed that I have been overly critical of this tree you are correct. This tree judged by “bonsai rules” does not pass. It will never be a four season tree that you might find at a museum. However, it can be developed into a very pleasing tree.

Have fun!



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