In 1999 we imported from Korea lots of trunks from Acer buergerianum. They came in in a plastic bag with not many roots, a little sphagnum moss around and no branches on. A couple of my students in that time trusted me when I told them these trees had potential for the future and they started immediately with a long time project. Here above an example of this material two years later with the first branches on. From than on those who didn’t buy one yet were also convinced and in a short time the workshops were fully booked with trident maples. This photo shows the 4 different front sides of the tree that we are going to follow today.
During our first workshop with project trees I always explain all the possible steps for the next coming ten years and what the best way is to follow. It is possible that on the same workshop with the same material different kinds of techniques of building up are used depending on the material and the owners facilities at home. That photo is taken shortly after the first workshop with the first branch selection and wiring. We wrapped raffia around the aluminium wire to protect the bark because it were all very young branches. This was beginning october 2001.
In februari 2002 we did our first decent repotting. Before the tree was in peat soil in a plastic container just to make a lot of roots. Now we had roots enough, made an oversized wooden box so that we could spread all the roots wide open and were the tree could stay in during nearly the whole time of the project. Question of the owner was how long his Maple had to stay in this box; I told him until the wooden box fells apart. This photo is taken in juin 2002 after first pruning on he growth of that year. Now the project is really started and we can work on our root base, taper, amount of main branches, thickness of the branches in the right order but we do not all of this in the same time. Every step we have other priorities depending on the evolution the tree made the previous year.
Two months later, in august, another wiring was necessary. It is always important to work with new young material to shape the branches in a beautiful and natural way.
March 2003 we grafted a missing branch on the back of the tree. Another new wiring was done. The small branches in the top of the tree are now wired as well but still we don’t need that, it is just to grow the taper on.
Every summer the tree puts a lot of new growth on and every time we follow this up with wiring and pruning the unnecessary branches. Very important is that project trees, like this one, are well fertilised, you can not see the fertiliser on this pot because we use an organic fertiliser with very fine structure. A box like this one can have two big spoons of fertiliser every 30 days from april till end of august. Also were you put your fertiliser is very important.
November 2004 our first winterpruning and ramification selection and graft on the lower branch.
October 2005, our first image starts to be visible.
Februari 2010, the wooden box was nearly rotten and the tree was nearly there were we wanted him to be. A repotting in pure akadama and now we make the tree ready to grow in a smaller space. That means that we are changing our technique in maintenance. It is not just pruning back every time it grows that gives you a natural and good result otherwise bonsai would be very easy. I can see in one blink in a tree if the work is well done every year.
October 2010, our first image as a bonsai in autumn colour.
Januari 2011, we improved the root base, all the cutting marks are nearly healed, the colour of the trunk is already changed into a typical old bark colour which is for this variety grey, the taper is o.k so we can finish the apex off easily in one year now. In reality the ramifications are even more spectacular than on the photo. We have in every branch three different ages of smaller branches and from now on we can call this a good refined tree. But we continue our project and we are going for a completely dense ramification; therefore we need another ten years. So we made another scedule now to be sure that the tree doesn’t miss a year in this whole progress. It is very dangerous from now on to follow the same maintenance technique all the time without interval. Without the right techniques you can lose more ramifications than you can win.
Interested in a project with Trident maple (Acer buergerianum), we have from 3 year old to 25 year old rooted trunks available.