Development pruning

I understand that not everyone has old, well developed bonsai so while it is nice to see the sort of pruning I showed in the last post, many of you are just starting out with much younger trees.

I picked out this trident maple because the trunk has good movement right down low. I think it has potential to produce a good bonsai.

As it is currently it is not particularly good. Lower trunk has some taper and attractive movement (blue section below) but there is little taper above the green line. The upper trunk sections are quite straight (red section) and do not complement the bends down lower.

It may seem drastic to many beginners but sometimes the best way to move forward is to go back a bit so I’ve reduced the trunk to remove the problem areas.

I’ve pruned this one just above some small branches that have good potential to become new leaders and/or branches.

I have not decided which of those will be the new trunk. The one toward the left will bring the trunk back toward the base of the tree which may be good for balance but the one toward the front will bring the trunk line slightly forward and probably continue the leaning trunk line. I’ll leave them all to grow a bit first and see what starts to look good before removing the spare ones.

Some will be wondering why I haven’t just left the whole tree intact because this tree does need to grow and thicken and pruning is generally thought to slow growth. In my opinion, fast growth is not the be all and end all of bonsai. I’m actually aiming at a smaller tree, probably in the shohin size range – under 20 cm tall so a trunk maybe 3 cm diameter will be adequate. The current character of the lower trunk is likely to disappear with rapid trunk thickening. Allowing the whole trunk to thicken will also mean I’ll end up with a much larger cut when I eventually prune the trunk (those straight sections will still not look good even on a thicker trunk). I’m also hoping for a more elegant, flowing tree to take advantage of that leaning lower trunk so I am more than happy to grow this one just a bit slower to avoid large scars and thickened sections.

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