As most of will now be aware, Spring has come a bit earlier this year. The trident maples hear at Shibui Bonsai have already begun to leaf out. We know that it is safe to dig, root prune and ship bare root tridents while they are dormant but having leaves puts a lot more stress on these trees. Spring budding means an end to the Shibui Bonsai bare root winter sales.
Trees in pots are a much safer bet for beginners and experienced growers alike as the roots are already well established in the pots. Shibui Bonsai has an extensive selection of trident maples and other bonsai species in pots. Select from a range of sizes, shapes and prices from $10 through to around $300. Email email@example.com and let me know what species, sizes and shapes you want to consider. I’m happy to take some photos of trees that may match your needs so you can select the right tree(s) for your project.
Spring has arrived earlier than usual at Shibui Bonsai. Tridents are growing leaves and flowering species that are usually in full flower for shows in October are already opening. As a result I’ve had to get potting up and repotting deciduous species done quicker than usual. I’m still repotting any pines and junipers that need doing this spring as they don’t seem to mind root pruning a bit later than the deciduous species.
Prunus ‘Elvins’ puts on a massed display of blossom which makes it a favourite of gardeners and bonsai growers. This is one that came out of the grow beds 12 months ago so now well established in the pot.
The pot is 20 cm diameter. For scale I’ve put my hand in the pic.
There’s also a couple of other Prunus ‘Elvins’ still available for sale.
Like many species, Prunus glandulosa has a range of common names – Dwarf almond, Chinese Bush Cherry, Chinese plum. It comes in pink and white forms but both have lovely double flowers. Unfortunately this species doesn’t grow a thick trunk but can be used for shohin sized bonsai.
Not sure what variety this azalea is but it has quite small flowers and smaller leaves which makes it great for smaller bonsai. This one is NOT FOR SALE but I do have some younger plants of the same variety if you would like to grow something similar.
On the sales tables, deciduous trees are opening new leaves for the coming growing season. New Spring growth is always something to look forward to as we come out of the grey days of winter.
Even the newly potted transplants are fast putting on leaves. These won’t be ready to travel for a few months but look out for new catalogues in November or December as usual.
Pictured below: New Root over Rock trident maples; Prunus ‘Elvins’; Crab apple ‘Profusion’; collected cherry plum and collected hawthorn and a few of the newly transplanted trident maples.
There are still some good trees from last season’s offering for those who don’t want to wait. I recently updated most to the catalogues to show what’s still here. click HERE for the Shibui Bonsai catalogue page We can post trees to Vic, SA, NSW and Qld customers. Post prices vary according to destination, size and weight so let me know your postcode when asking about a tree so I can calculate delivery cost for you.
I’m sure many beginners are concerned about purchasing bare root trees and having them delivered through the mail so some of you may be more interested in some trident maple trunks that are already established in pots.
These are some of the XL and XXL bare root tridents that were left after last year’s winter bare root sale so I potted up some of the nicer trunks. That means these have had a full year to grow new roots and re-establish in the pots ready for whatever projects you’d like to try with them. Some might need another trunk chop to establish a better trunk line, others are ready to start growing branching this summer.
Delivery for some of these will be a little more than the bare root equivalent but generally a single pot doesn’t change the post price much. As usual, I’m happy to provide a delivery price quote before you commit to purchase. Please supply a mailing address or at least a postcode because post rates depend on what Auspost zone you are in.
Shibui Bonsai also has plenty of smaller trident and Japanese maples in smaller 11 cm pots as well as a good range of other bonsai species. email firstname.lastname@example.org to order or enquire about your next bonsai starters.
I tackled some bigger garden grown trident seedlings today. Thicker roots so these took a bit more time and effort to extract than the smaller ones I usually offer.
After they are out of the ground and roots separated from each other the trunks and roots need to be trimmed
Trident trunks like this are still available bare root – until the new shoots start to open. Prices from $15 through to $30 for these XXL bare root tridents depending on how good the root base, trunk taper and trunk bends. This one priced at $20 as an indication.
XL trunks are a bit thinner, usually around finger thick – that’s about 1.5-3cm thick at the base – and priced at $10 – $15 each depending on quality as above.
As shown, XL and XXL tridents are usually tall and thin. They are good for larger groups as is but can be trunk chopped and grown on to create trunks will have good taper in a few years.
There are a small number that already have forks in the trunk which will give a natural point to chop for taper and for trunk bends. $30 for trunks like this one with good roots and a natural fork for trunk reduction. Not many of these so get in quick before they are sold.
Some have lots of side branches. Expect to pay $20 for a trunk like this. Only while stocks last.
More details of Shibui Bonsai winter seedling offer
Small tridents are up to around 3mm thick near the base. They will generally be from 20-30cm tall as shown here. Some have good lateral roots while others may have few. The good news is that tridents survive with very few roots and can easily grow more. Just snip the tap root short and plant them Next year you’ll be amazed at how many new roots have emerged and grown. Small tridents $1 each
Some customers plan to wire the trunks and make lots of twists and bends as potential shohin and mame sized bonsai. If that’s your plan please tell me and I’ll specially select thinner, more flexible stems which should allow for better bends with less unwanted snaps. From experience there’s no point trying to put tight bends into thicker maple trunks. They rapidly get hard and brittle so larger trunks snap rather than bending well.
Medium tridents are roughly 3mm through to 6mm thick. Again, some will have lots of roots like these and others will have just a few. $2 each. Medium and larger seedlings may have the roots roughly trimmed to make it easier to wrap the roots. Trunks will usually be chopped at around 30-40 cm tall for packing.
Large trident seedlings are from 6mm (around pencil thickness) up to 10mm (almost small finger thick) $5 each
Small Japanese maples $2 each. The Japanese maples are slower growing so the trunks tend to be a but shorter than similar thickness tridents. Some may only be 8-10 cm tall but most will be around 15cm. $2 each for smaller Japanese maples due to slower growth, higher demand and limited numbers.
Any Japanese maples thicker than around 3mm are $5 each. These are mostly 2-3 years old now. There’s not so many of these so only available while stocks last.
Quite a few of the seedlings have had to grow through mulch and other plants which often gives the trunks natural bends and twists. I normally separate out bent trunks so if you fancy growing some small, twisted maples just ask. Same prices listed above depending on trunk thickness.
I’ve just come across a patch of super small Japanese maple seedlings. These have grown in tougher conditions. They are still a full year old but much shorter. That means closer internodes on the existing trunk which should work well when developing smaller sized bonsai. $20 for a bundle of 20 seedlings. Available in either straighter or bent trunks.
XL and XXL tridents – These tridents were hiding last year when I culled so are now 2-3 years old. Trunks from 2cm -5 cm thick near the base will give you a head start on growing larger trees. Be aware that these larger tridents have grown quickly and have very little trunk taper. The necessary trunk chop will leave quite a large scar though tridents heal rapidly if they are allowed to grow freely again in the year or 2 after the chop As untrained seedlings they may have good radial roots or not. I’m happy to send photos of potential XL and XXL if you want to see before committing to the purchase.
Forest packs – Bundles of different thickness trident trunks specially selected to make starter group plantings. Forest pack typically consists of 2 large, 6 medium and 6 small trident seedlings at just $20 each. See this post Trident maple group planting for my tips and techniques to build your own group from a Shibui Bonsai forest pack.
All winter seedlings are sent bare root. That means no soil but don’t worry. While they are dormant your maple seedlings won’t even know. Roots are packed in wet newspaper or damp sawdust so the roots don’t dry out, then wrapped in a plastic bag to retain moisture while they travel and packed in a cardboard box to protect them while in transit. Seedlings can travel for up to 2 weeks this way with no ill effects. When your package arrives, open the bag and check that the packing is still damp. Add a little water if required. Bare root plants can be stored for several months if necessary. They will eb fine in the plastic bag for a few days but for longer term storage – dig a hole in the garden and cover the roots with soil or place the roots in a suitable sized container and cover the roots with damp soil, sand or potting mix and they will be fine until you get round to dealing with them. Obviously the sooner you pot up your new Shibui Bonsai seedlings the better but provided the roots don’t get dry the seedlings can be stored this way until leaves start to open in spring.
Don’t forget if you don’t think you have the time or patience to grow your bonsai from small seedlings Shibui Bonsai has lots of more advanced trees in pots. Prices starting at just $10 and up depending on age, trunk shape and branching.
Make sure you include your mailing address when you order so I can calculate post costs to get your order delivered right to your door.
Winter is here and so is the annual seedling sale. Thousands of trident maples seedlings direct from the garden beds to you from just $1 each plus post costs.
Also a limited number of Japanese maple seedlings but due to limited numbers, slower growth rates and higher demand small JM are $2 and the few slightly thicker trunks $5 each.
Also this year a few more XL and XXL tridents. These grew fast in an area with plenty of water and now have trunks up to 5cm thick at ground level. Remember, very little taper, large cuts and roots have had no work so as they come. Happy to send photos of these as individuals. $10 – $20 depending on size and roots. Be prepared for slightly higher post cost when buying these larger trees as they do take up more space.
email email@example.com to order
Note that I usually sort the seedlings according to trunk shape as different shapes and sizes are better for some projects. I can often supply selected packs that will suit your projects better if you tell me what you want to do.
I don’t usually start digging the grow beds until July but a Shibui Bonsai customer has been keen to learn more by volunteering to help. Jim had a couple of days off work due to wet weather so we picked a dry day and got started a week early.
Jim is younger and enthusiastic. He started on the shovel and kept me so busy pruning that I did not get any photos of the actual dig.
In a few hours we managed to dig and do a rough top and root prune on most of the larger trident maples, some Japanese maples, a few crab apples and some of the first year tridents.
They have all been ‘heeled in’ to a spare patch where they can wait until I’m ready to do a final inspection to decide if they get potted for sale, put back in the grow beds for more growth or go on the scrap heap.
Still plenty of trees to do but I have all winter so I just do a few any time I can. The trees pictured are Prunus ‘Elvins’, Hawthorn and more crab apples with a couple of Seiju elms for good measure.
The trees in the picture were all chopped and root pruned last winter so nearly all of the 2m of growth shown has emerged through last summer.
Now that the roots have been thinned and adjusted it’s time to take a more thorough look at the overall shape in case trunk lines need any work.
When I initially planted these I tried to match trunk shape to the shapes of the rocks while also trying to get good root lines. Since then strong growth of new shoots and trunk thickening have often changed the appearance so they need to be reassessed. Some will obviously need to have slight adjustments, others may need more radical pruning and a few will just be so bad I’ll scrap them.
Many readers will already be able to assess and prune for developing trunk lines but for newer growers I’ll try to work through some of my decisions with the following tree.
Check the appearance, roots, rock, trunk line and any branching from all sides and angles.
The main trunk line seems to compliment the shape of the rock from a couple of viewing points so that’s a good start. I can see that the original trunk was wired and bent (thinner upper section) but a new shoot has grown strongly vertical. Both those lines would be Ok as a trunk but the new, thicker shoot is almost the same thickness of the lower trunk meaning almost no taper in the trunk. Also that new shoot has long, relatively straight internodes so I would not be able too develop branches where I want them if that’s chosen as the main trunk. I decide to chop that new part just above the first node. New buds will sprout and grow in the coming growing season and I’ll reassess again next year.
Both trunk and roots would be better with some more thickening so I decide to rewrap and plant it in a grow box for another season.
This one has also grown a few strong new shoots over summer which have done a great job of thickening both roots and lower trunk.
The new lower left branch is not a good candidate as new leader because it would make the new trunk line too straight and leading in the wrong direction to compliment the shape of rock and roots. It is also way too thick to be a branch on that trunk so I’ll cut it close to the trunk.
Thinner branch to the right is in a position to be a possible branch but the sweep upward won’t work and it also has long internodes so I’ll chop that one above the first node too and hope for better results next season.
After pruning the top. I’ve elected to leave 2 possible trunks to see which one looks better after another year.
A final tree to look at for this post. Note the thick lower trunk.
A closer look reveals something interesting.
The thicker trunk has spiral marks. The thinner part has more pronounced wire marks and near the end is a piece of copper wire protruding from the trunk.
This trunk is the result of some experiments with wiring very young seedlings the previous year to get really twisted trunks suitable for shohin sized trees. This is one that grew so quick I was not able to remove the wires in time and the trunk has grown right over the wire. That’s not something I would normally do or recommend but, in this case I think the results might possibly be good.
The twisted part of that trunk comes down too close to the top of the rock now. As it thickens it might obscure the view of the top of the rock. The new part is more upright so probably a better trunk line. I chop the thinner section.
After chopping the thinner part a close look shows the copper wire is now right in the middle of the trunk.
The remaining stronger, upright trunk has little taper or movement so I cut it back hard. Fortunately it does have some shorter internodes as the lower part so I’ve retained 2 nodes this time. Depending how many buds break in spring and which directions they grow I may cut further.
Removing the foil wrap is easy. Unlike some other methods the roots do not get tangled up or grow over and through the bindings.
Here’s the first after unwrapping.
And some more.
Now I can assess the shape better. Look at shape of the rock, flow of the trunk, flow of roots, etc to determine which side looks better. That can determine where the longer shoots will be chopped. These still have some growing to do so they may still change appearance. At this stage I’m just making some guesses and anticipating what may happen in the next few years and trying to direct future growth along the lines that I think will look best.
After preliminary pruning the tops.
Look at the mass of roots. Many of those finer white roots have grown since I wrapped it last winter. Provided moisture levels are adequate conditions between the rock and foil are ideal for root growth.
Roots do not actually need soil to grow. Humid conditions is all they need and that’s what foil wrapped rocks provide in abundance. Some of these did not even have roots sticking out the bottom of the foil last year but have since grown down and out into the soil.
From experience I know it is important to assess and manage the roots now. Too many roots may seem a good problem to have but over time they will all thicken and spread to completely hide the rock. No point having a root over Rock planting if nobody can see there’s a rock!
Also need to deal with crossing roots. As well as being confusing to the viewer, a root growing under another will push the overlying root out away from the rock as it thickens and spoil the arrangement.
After cleaning many of the new, smaller roots and removing some that cross over or under. This should allow the rock to show through the spaces even as the remaining roots thicken and spread.
The reverse side of the same tree before cleaning excess roots
and after cleaning the roots on that side.
Here’s another case of crossing roots.
A closer look at the root marked with blue….
Shows that it comes from the other side of the tree, ender the base of the trunk, under another important root then down the front of the rock.
That’s one root I will definitely remove now, before it gets the chance to start lifting the entire tree away from the rock.
A few of these little ROR starters are already good enough to pot up and begin training trunk and branches. Others still need some more grow time so those are rewrapped with fresh foil and will go back into pots or boxes so the roots and trunks thicken a little more next summer.
June marks early winter here at Shibui Bonsai. The leaves have fallen off most of the trident maples and that means it’s time to start work on the developing trees. Most years I start with the Root over Rock plantings because it is always great to finally see what has happened over summer.
The box of potential shohin trident root over rock
After clearing fallen leaves you can now see the trees and rocks wrapped in alfoil.
I use aluminium foil because it conforms very closely to the shape of the rocks. even into crevices and hollows and holds the growing roots very close to the rocks.
Roots have grown through the bottom of the polystyrene box over the summer indicating good growth of at least some of these trees.
After cutting the roots under the box I gently ease each tree out of the soil. Breaking a few of the roots at this stage doesn’t matter as I intend to cut them back much further in the next step
Just a quick, rough trim of roots hanging out from the foil to make the trees easier to handle.
I won’t trim the tops at this stage. I really want to see the shape of both rocks and new roots before deciding where to prune the long trunks and branches.
Next time I open them up to see how the roots have developed.