Korean Hornbeam Group

It was finally time to make a real purchase of a trained tree grown for bonsai purposes.  Until now, all of my trees have been nursery projects or collected trees.  I feel comfortable enough in my skills now to spend a bit of money and get something nice.  I scoured the usual online sources to see what was available in my price range before heading out to Bogan’s Bonsai.  We have our monthly study groups there and the owners could not be better people.  Besides, it is always better to support your local folks.

I was intentionally shopping for a hornbeam or maple and found this really nice 3 tree group planting.





This is a great start to a great piece and I am really excited to work on it.  As with anything, it is not without its flaws and needs a bit of improvement.  I will reduce the height a little bit and will need to improve the base unless there is something nice hiding below the soil line.

I will take it to the study group next weekend for a light trim and some wire.

A little work on an Arakawa Maple

I picked up this tree around mid-Spring of last year.  When it arrived it looked like this.


There are some things I really like about the tree but a couple improvements are definitely needed.  First off, the base is awesome.


I really like the bones I have with the twin trunk design but I have no taper and no movement.  Luckily that is something that can be fixed with some patience and a little work.

My first course of action is to get an air layer going on the top. This looks like a pretty good spot.


You may think I am crazy for choosing this place due to the big scar from an earlier chop, but years from now when the new tree is established, I can carve it out and make it a focal point.

Ok, let’s get started.

I scored the bark and put my bag in place.  I didn’t have a picture of this but I made sure to smear some rooting hormone all around the upper part of the wound.  Some say it isn’t needed but I always like to use it just to get that little extra help.  It makes me feel better at the very least.


I didn’t have any moss so I am trying something new and using pure vermiculite.  I had plenty on hand and I know it stays pretty damp so it should work fine. I soaked it in some water before applying it to the tree.


This part was a pain in the ass.  I had it all over my bench when I was finished, but alas, it was done. I put a bit of wire lightly around the top and wrapped it with saran wrap.


I added a layer of aluminium foil to keep the sun from cooking the fresh roots when they start poking out.


I went ahead and made a thread graft on my right trunk. Unfortunately, the small branch was already dead and I didn’t know. The tree suffered a bit through the cold weather and died back.


A month or so later I realized the branch was a goner. No worries!  I will just give it another try a bit lower down. I drilled a small hole through the center of the trunk section.


The tree was already in full leaf so I had to trim the existing leaves off to fit through the hole.  I trimmed the petioles (the piece that stem that connects the leaf to the branch) much closer than this picture shows.


I gently pushed it through the hole and covered the entrance and exit points with cut paste to hold in the moisture while it heals. These are pictures from my first failed graft since I can’t find the new ones. I followed the same exact process though.



All done!

I had not repotted this tree at all since I bought it and I noticed that the water wasn’t soaking in very well when I would water it.  I intentionally didn’t repot this year so I wouldn’t slow the tree down. I thought I would go ahead and slip pot it while it was in the garage for the graft.



I had a pond basket laying around so I popped it in there, backfilled with soil to fill in the gaps, and back out to the bench!


I would normally be giving it a haircut right now, but with the air layer and root graft in place I want to just let it grow as much as possible.

I know this post shows a lot of work and would be pushing the limits of the tree’s health if I did it all at once. Please remember that the air layer and new graft/slip pot was performed about 2 months apart.

We’ll check back in a couple of months and see how it is coming along!