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I often hear people saying they wish they had access to good stock and or that they cant find any stock worth purchasing. Often the journey to find good stock can be difficult but there is definitely good stock available if you know where to look.

A couple of weekends ago I visited a friend on the outskirts of Melbourne to see how his ground grown stock had progressed this year.

A trident slipped from the grow bed.

A trident slipped from the grow bed.

As you can see from the above picture, the stock was going very well indeed. There is no real secret about how to produce these results as they are a simple a matter of spending 10 years applying good technique and working the root bases each and every year.

Another great base.

Another great base.

Each year the trees have been dug up and cut back hard to encourage a fine, flat root system. Digging each year coupled with the excellent growing conditions in the grow beds results in good yearly top growth without roots getting too thick and creating faults. This makes for trunks with great base flare and very small scars which in many cases are healed in the ground.

A Japanese maple from the same beds.

A Japanese maple from the same beds.

When out of the ground, the most important cuts to the roots are in removing those that are downward growing and scarring the base of the trunk to further thicken the base; and with this stock, this has been done with great results. In fact, I was so impressed with the quality of the material I put my name on a couple that might come out of the ground in the next couple of years.

The roots on the underside of the trunk being removed.

The roots on the underside of the trunk being removed.

For those not willing to spend 5 years working out the techniques and then a further 10 growing trunks luckily this grower also sells some of his stock.

His trident maples are available through Chojo Feature trees in Mount Evelyn.  Jeff who runs the place is an extremely nice guy and I am sure could help out those interested in a trunk and or other bonsai related products.

Before I left for Japan a friend (who runs an interesting blog) asked me to take some pictures of bonsai from the side so he could get a good idea of how the trunk lines and apex were constructed.

He has begun growing some stock in the ground and was keen to see how the japanese constructed their trunks. So as I was snapping pics I sometimes remembered to take a few shots from different angles to show a more 3d view of the trunks.

He asked I photograph a wide range of trunks but I realised that the deciduous trees were the only ones that you could easily see the trunk movement and structure so those were what I focused on.

(Left image: front, Right image: Side view)

A medium-sized root over rock Trident maple.

Shohin Trident Maple

Another shohin Trident Maple

A shohin Japanese Maple

Looking back at the photos it is interesting to see just how far forward some of the apexes are. I guess this allows you to get a much more compact apex with many branches. If you imagine standing these apexes up you can picture that it would raise the height of the tree and also spread out the ramification in the top section creating a taller less dense image.

Looking over my own trees at home over the weekend I think that some of them could become more compact and dense from a simple tilting forward of their upper structure. It was a good exercise taking these pictures as I had seen hundreds if not thousands of trees over the years but have never really focused on this one detail. I think I will have to look over all my other photos and pick out individual styling details and see what they reveal.

This year has seen some dramatic changes to my bonsai. The most major of these was moving house and gaining some backyard space. My trees previously were kept in amongst a lush garden. On one hand this was good in that my bonsai were quite sheltered and there was a good micro climate in which to grow amongst. The down side was that I could never really rid my trees of pests as once the garden was infected everything was. As a result my trees ended up with a number of pest problems. Now I have moved I hope to rid them of these problems, which brings me to the subject of this post, my Trident Maple.

Earlier this spring I defoliated the maple and posted the results HERE. I repeated this defoliation process twice more during the season and was rewarded with much increased ramification.

As it began to change into its Autumn colours I set about doing the final defoliation. Usually I would leave the leaves on a little longer in order to see the full range of colours they would turn but I wanted to remove them before they dropped so I could dispose of them along with any insect eggs that may have been laid on them.

The trident at the beginning of autumn just beginning to show signs of it changing colour.

Starting to turn

I removed all the leaves which revealed the structure of the branches and all the new ramification. All the leaves that were removed were put into the household garbage to ensure that any eggs on them would not end up anywhere near my bonsai.

Defoliated.

Once the tree was naked I was able to carefully look over the tree to assess the amount of pruning that would be required. I wanted to spray the tree with lime sulphur to kill any remaining pests so I did not prune at this stage. I don’t like the idea of lime sulphur getting into fresh cuts. I am not sure if it is actually a problem or not but I choose to avoid it where I can.

What I did prune off was some insect eggs. I found what I first thought were fungal blooms on dead twigs.

If you look closely you can see the small white tufts of damage.

A close up of a damaged twig

Upon further investigation I realised that the tufts lead to a hollow channel within the twig which was filled with eggs around 0.5mm in size. I did a quick search on the net and realised they were the eggs of Passion Hoppers which lay their eggs in channels they make within small twigs. The twigs die soon after the eggs are laid so cutting the twig off and destroying it is a good way to tackle them.

I then went over the tree with a pair of scissors and removed every twig I could find that exhibited signs of damage.

A pile of some of the damaged twigs.

After removing what I can only guess was hundreds of insect eggs I sprayed the tree with a diluted solution of lime sulphur to prepare the bonsai for winter.

It was a satisfying days work. I hope that the work will pay off next season with a dramatic reduction of insects in my collection. Fingers crossed.

This spring is much wetter that what we have become use to over the last 5-10 years of drought. This drought breaking rain that we are experiencing has come as a welcome beginning to this seasons growth for my bonsai. They are all growing like crazy. Judging from what i have seen in the month or so since spring has started i am guessing that we are in for an excellent bonsai year ahead.

One of the trees that has been growing strongly is the trident maple that is pictured below.  It has been growing so well that i have decided to defoliate is a little earlier that i normally might in the hope that i will be able to defoliate two or even three times to encourage far more fine ramification i would get in a normal growth year.

If you look towards the base of the tree you will notice a small seedling that is being grafted into the nebari to fill in a small gap in the root spread.

Trident, Before

The trident before defoliation.

I have been growing this tree for a number of years and it is really starting to become on of my favorites.

This year i rewarded it with this old ‘Reihou’ tokoname pot that i bought on my last trip to japan. I think the blue really suits the tree well. I will make a separate post about this and other pots in a subsequent post.

Trident, After

The trident after defoliation.

This is how the tree looks after defoliating it. I have left leaves on the shoots that were weak in order to give them a head start over the new growth. This ballancing of shoot strength should even-out the energy distribution over the trees canopy.

I also like to add a few more fertiliser cakes to the tree after defoliation to help the new buds form.

One of the other things i am trying to achieve with this defoliation is to pop a bud that is between the first and second branches on the back of the trunk. There is a bud there that has slowly been getting bigger and bigger but has not yet formed a shoot. Hopefully this work will be the catalyst that sees the bud grow a branch right where i want one.

Those who look closely will notice one of the shots seems to have been bent back in towards the trunk. This is a thread graft that i have put in place to fill a gap in the canopy. Hopefully by the end of this season the branch will have grafted onto the trunk and will have begun to ramify.

I look forward to seeing this tree progress over the course of the summer and hopefully it will reward me with some nice autumn colours.

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