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.
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.
The first maples are now bare here at Shibui Bonsai. That means it is time to start trimming. It always amazes me how many shoots have grown unnoticed inside the canopy and now need to be removed.
Here’s is an old Japanese maple.
I usually start with any long shoots, especially if there are long internodes.
It may seem counterproductive to cut shoots like this short but buds can only develop from nodes so those long internodes will prevent you developing really dense ramification. Remove long internodes wherever you find them.
Cut back until there’s only short internodes. If necessary cut the whole shoot off. New shoots will grow from the base
In earlier development stages we put lots of effort into creating branch density and more and more ramification. Eventually that changes as advanced bonsai like this one gradually become crowded with too many shoots. Attention now turns to maintaining branch structure by thinning out dense areas and removing shoots that have grown too thick.
Next target branches that are too thick. Thick branching is fine lower on the tree but shoots at the ends of branches and in the apex look far better if they are thinner.
Remove thicker shoots to leave thinner ones as replacements.
After trimming long shoots, removing thicker parts and thinning crowded areas
A number of customers have pointed out that the old catalogues appeared to be out of date because they were titled 2020. Shibui Bonsai years are designed to fit in with tree seasons rather than our traditional calendar.
Field grown trees are dug from the grow beds in winter – That’s July and August here – then pruned and potted up. Some new dug trees may be available as bare root but as I have no control over your subsequent care and conditions bare root trees are not covered by the standard Shibui Bonsai guarantee.
Fresh potted trees are hard to pack and post with no roots to hold the soil together so I delay sales until the trees have started growing and have plenty of new roots in the pots. The tridents are generally ready to cope with mailing by December so that’s when the new catalogues are posted (provided I’ve managed to find the time and energy to take all the photos and compile the catalogue files). By that time i can be sure that the trees have recovered well from the trauma of transplant and the massive root reduction that entails so you can be assured of getting strong, healthy trees with the traditional Shibui Bonsai guarantee.
The catalogues on the catalogue pages are current right through to the following November but the later you are the less trees will still be available.
Good bonsai are not like many other retail goods – I can’t just get more from the factory to fill the shelves because bonsai growing is seasonal so we must learn to fit in with the annual and seasonal growth patterns. New trees are only added each year in December.
offerings of trident maples are good again this season but there were no Chinese Elms ready for sale this time.
The few pines and junipers I potted up have all been sold (provided they recover and grow well) before going in a catalogue.
I’ve only potted up 2 field grown Japanese maples – catalogue still in progress at this stage but should be posted soon.
There are also a few Prunus ‘Elvins’ from the grow beds along with a couple of feral plums collected locally. Catalogues will be up as soon as the weather allows me time to take photos and compile the catalogue so, if you are keen on great flowering bonsai, keep an eye out for that one soon.
I’ve done some previous posts about starting a group planting but posting this year’s offer of seedlings https://shibuibonsai.com.au/?p=2338 prompted me to put together the group shown here.
I’ve found bonsai groups a great way to get a reasonably acceptable bonsai specimen in just a few years. No waiting for decades for the trunk to grow or branches to develop. Lots of trunks together help to provide the visual bulk and canopy so your group can look presentable relatively quickly.
Bonsai groups can be any size and have any number of trees but more trees together tends to look better sooner.
I’ve started here with the group pack shown in the previous post. Shibui Bonsai forest packs consist of a mix of trunk sizes. If you are finding your own seedlings try to get a similar range of trunk thicknesses – a few thicker ones and a range of thinner ones to fill out the forest. there’s around 20 trees in the forest pack but you don’t have to use all of them. Spares can be used for other projects.
As well as the seedlings you’ll need a tray. I use these nursery seedling trays because they are easy to get and a convenient size, durable and easy to get but any convenient container will do. For different sized groups consider an appropriate sized tray. Your container does not need to be as shallow as this. My older trident groups were established and grown on in much deeper polystyrene fruit boxes. Larger, deeper containers will allow your trees to grow and develop quicker if you want to speed up evolution.
Start by sorting an root pruning the seedlings if they have not already been done. tridents are really resilient and pruning thick roots short will help promote more finer and surface roots vital to good bonsai.
The thickest, tallest tree becomes the focal point for the group. Usually placed around 1/3 from either left or right and just in front of the mid-line front to back. I’ve gone with a 1/3 left placement this time as shown.
Now add the other thicker trunks. This is where you can add your own creativity to the group but they will generally be towards the front and closer to the middle than the edges. It is easier if all your trees are relatively straight but if you have trunks with some movement you will also need to try to create harmony by arranging the bends so they look similar.
Pay particular attention to spacing. I’ve found this is particularly difficult as we seem to have a natural tendency to plant things equally spaced so I have to think carefully and force myself to put some trunks quite close together to create a random spacing within the group of trunks. intertwining roots of adjacent trees is no problem but if your trees have lots of roots don’t be frightened to cut roots on one side so you can get the trunks close.
Keep adding trunks with smaller ones mostly toward the outer edges and back. Thinner trunks at the rear helps build an impression of greater depth and size. If some of the trees have branches try to place those so the branches grow into spaces or out of the group. That won’t always be possible so keep branch cutters handy to remove any that are growing close to other trees.
Keep checking that you are not making rows of trees. It seems to be another human trait to line things up but nature is more random so if you see rows forming just move trunks a little to break up lines.
Check from the side as well. Look for lines forming and check that all the trees are standing at a similar angle to create harmony. I often need to add more potting soil to prop up trees as they don’t have many roots for support yet.
After I’m happy with placement and angles I trim the trunks to final height. Try to make the thickest focal tree the tallest then work out toward the edges, pruning each tree a little shorter so the overall outline will be a rounded dome. Don’t forget that your trees will always grow up so pruning shorter than required now can be a good thing.
After watering your group into the fresh soil do another check and reposition any trunks that have sagged or leaned over. Now put your new forest in a protected place to settle in. Check occasionally to make sure trunks have not fallen over. Just push any problems back into position and add some more potting mix if required.
I generally find some faults during the first year. Things I should have seen but didn’t. Spaces that don’t look great and trunks at odd angles that clash with the overall look. Any of these things can be corrected next spring when the group can be chopped into sections and re positioned or new trees added to enhance the composition.
The groups above have been assembled from relatively young trees but groups can be made from more mature trunks which will give an even better look sooner. Here’s a shohin (under 20cm) trident group I put together last winter with trees from the Shibui Bonsai sales tables.
If you would like to create a trident group from more advanced trunks talk to Neil to see what we have available that would suit. I’ve supplied larger trees for client group projects and I’m happy to select trees that I think would work well together.
Eventually your trident group could end up looking something like these.
We have plenty of self sown maple seedlings in the garden beds at Shibui Bonsai again this year. These have all grown without any help so I can supply them at reduced rates. These seedlings will only be available until they start to grow in spring or until sold out.
First up let’s deal with quarantine. We cannot send trees to either WA or Tasmania due to plant quarantine rules and before you start complaining it is best to remember those restrictions are there to protect you and your wonderful environment from a range of pests and diseases that we battle daily here in the Eastern Mainland.
Trident maple seedlings are supplied in a range of different sizes
Small: seedlings with trunks under 3mm thick only 50c each. These are still flexible so suit wiring and bending or as smaller trees in a group planting. Also useful for root grafting.
Medium: trunks 3-6mm diameter approx $1 each
Suit group plantings, growing on, threading through plates, fusion projects and more.
Large: trunks 6-10mm thick $2 each
Great for larger trunks in a group planting or to grow on for larger bonsai trunks in future.
There are a few trunks larger than 10mm. $5 each while they last. Please note that thicker does not always mean better. These will usually have a large trunk chop and may have less attractive roots than the smaller ones.
Forest packs $20. A mix of different sizes suitable to make your own group planting. Usually 3 large, 10 medium and 10 small trunks.
Bent trunks: While most of these feral seedlings are pretty straight some have bends. These bent ones could be better for approach grafts to roots or to grow small trunks with good low bends. Price as per trunk thickness above.
I am happy to select seedlings with specific characteristics if you let me know exactly what you require so the more info you can give me as to your plans the better I can tailor your order.
Japanese Maples: These are not as prolific so numbers are limited and most are smaller size than tridents above. All JM seedlings $1 each and you get whatever sizes come up.
Please don’t expect too much from these feral seedlings. They will be packed just as they come out of the garden as shown above so some have lots of roots, some have fewer but all should survive as tridents are really tough. Even those with just a very few roots have great survival rates. The roots are only trimmed roughly to fit in bundles. You can’t expect me to do detailed root work at those prices so that’s up to you when they arrive. Trunks will be chopped to fit into a 50-60 cm long pack. Further detailed pruning to size is also up to you.
Trees are sent bare root. I’ll bundle the trunks, wrap the roots in wet newspaper and wrap in a plastic bag to retain moisture. Trees will survive quite comfortably this way during delivery and for several weeks if necessary. On arrival please check and refresh root moisture if necessary. Trees can be stored in a cool place for a few weeks or even longer if you are not ready to pot up straight away. For longer term storage roots should be buried in damp soil, sand or sawdust until planting is possible.
Delivery: Please allow for the cost of delivery in addition to the tree price. Trees are sent direct to your mailing address via Auspost. Price depends on the size, weight and destination of the order so I’ll need to quote each package to give you the best price so please supply your delivery address or at very least a postcode when ordering so I can calculate a price for delivery. typical cost is likely to be: smaller packages under 1kg $15 regular mail or $20 express. More than 1 forest pack or larger numbers of individual trees could be $25 or $30 for delivery.
Email email@example.com to place an order or to discuss your needs this season.
The winter solstice has come and gone and that is a prompt for me to get into the grow beds and start digging the deciduous trees. I don’t think the trees mind when I dig. I just use the solstice as a reminder to get started or I won’t have enough time to dig the beds and do whatever repotting is required in the nursery before spring.
I usually start with the root over rock trees, just because I can’t wait to see what has happened under the soil and foil wrap. Opening these is always like Christmas.
After cutting roots with a shovel I can lift the trees and shake the soil off the roots.
To make them easier to handle the long roots and long branches are pruned roughly before making any further decisions.
Now comes the moment of truth. Unwrapping the foil will reveal how well the roots have developed over these rocks. these trees have been in this bed for just one year. Note that the aluminium foil wrap is starting to deteriorate. Some have split the foil as the roots and trunk expanded during the growing season. Roots have also penetrated through the foil in a couple of places.
This is a good reason for checking every year. The closer to the surface the stronger trident roots grow. If this was left another year that escaped root would get huge and would distort the roots closer to the rock, possibly making this a dismal failure.
Now it is time to do some more detailed work on these trees. I assess the whole root/rock/trunk arrangement to find the best possible lines. At this stage I’m just looking for a trunk. branches come later.
I think the curving trunk looks far better than the straighter section so I’ll prune to remove the straight section. Pruning like this also gives some taper.
Now these are ready for potting and the start of the next phase – branches and ramification.
It has been so long since I posted here. Life just seems to get in the way.
late autumn now at Shibui Bonsai and the leaves have dropped off trident maples. That means it is time to start the winter trimming. Some growers wait until later in winter or spring but an early start is good for me as winter and spring get really busy when I dig the field grown trees and start repotting in spring. I’ve also found that maples don’t bleed quite as much when cut soon after leaf drop.
My winter trim is aimed at refining already well ramified trees. I take out any long shoots, thin out crowded shoots and remove thick shoots from the ends of branches and near the apex.
Trident maple before and after trimming shoots. This one is around 35 years old. It has really well ramified branches. By the end of summer the new shoots are quite crowded and need thinning to allow room for next year’s shoots to get adequate space and sunlight.
This one is much younger. I had a few upright tridents so decided to develop one with more trunk character. The upper trunk of this one has been grown from just the first branch of a younger tree.I think the bends give it a unique character and I’m happy with progress so far. The branches of this one are still developing ramification so less thinning to do here. Emphasis is on pruning for direction and removing overly long internodes so the future ramification will be better.