Roy invited me up to his house today to give him a hand trimming and pruning back his trees. A few of his bonsai had become overgrown and had started to lose important ramification. He had asked my advice on this last week and I said it would be easier to show him.
Roy, by his own admission can be reluctant to prune hard on deciduous trees and I respected that today. In a few cases, if it were my own tree, I would have gone harder back, but I think we struck a nice balance between us. In fact once we got started, Roy was as heavy with the scissors as I was!! 🙂
First up was a Korean Hornbeam that he bought last year and was not in good health when he got it. I think the price reflected that. He potted it on for a few months to give it space at the end of last year and then did a proper repot during the early Spring. It’s his first one of this variety and he was unsure how far to prune it back. The growth was very long with leaves at the ends. The majority of this would have to go. This was the tree last week when I was up.
The overall size is about what he is aiming for but the structure of the branches was very poor. I would have liked to have gone a little harder with the pruning to ensure it back buds in the right places but I feel as Roy gains experience with this variety he will be able to prune it back again later in the year after new growth appears. Here’s it after pruning.
As you can see below, still plenty of longer branches that I would have liked to have cut back.
It needs to bud back on lower branches that have very poor secondary ramification but his good care will achieve this during the year.
Next on the table was his Deshojo Japanese Maple. This has become a little over grown, especially at the apex. This is it last week.
We started to shorten in growth that hadn’t been pinched and removed branches with long inter-nodal length. Some of this was last years growth. Black Fly was visible but Roy had already sprayed. Some dead branches could be seen but these where mostly minor and probably occurred over the Winter. Not uncommon with Deshojo.
This is it after our work. As you can see the colour has faded in a week as the foliage matures.
The tree is in good health and Roy has never defoliated it in all the years he’s had it. Perhaps later in the year this may be an option. This would allow for a better look at the structure and for further pruning and a little wiring to take place.
Next up is a Formal Upright Trident Maple. It has the same problems as the Hornbeam in that it has plenty of tip growth but a lot of die back of inner branches. This was it last week.
As well as the die back, lower branches were starting to struggle and the branches at the apex were thickening rapidly. This was losing the whole balance of growth within the tree. I removed the dead bits and, starting at the apex, worked my way down thinning out the heavy bits and shortening the over all size of the canopy. This will allow for back budding and extra light to gain access to the interior of the tree.. This tree has great potential. Roy was really getting into the swing of things and didn’t need much encouragement to start removing branches. Here is the tree afterwards. I just love this John Pitt Pot 🙂
After lunch we gave a light pruning to a few other trees. His two Hawthorns had some new growth shortened. This first one had no flowers open last week. It will need a major wiring session this Winter to sort out the growth but has great potential.
His other Hawthorn is just nearing the end of flowering.
This Berberis got a light trim and also needs a full wiring this Winter. Yes, the pot is made of Granite!! This baby isn’t going to blow over any time soon!! 🙂
Next I trimmed back a Golden Larch group, Pseudolarix amabilis. A lot of dead branches at the bottom and over extended ones at the top. Here is the before and after pics.
I would have liked to prune back hard here but I’ve don’t have a lot of time spent on this variety. It was also recently repotted so I erred on the side of caution.
This Trident Root Over Rock and Crab Apple also got a light trim. The Trident is crying out of a defoliation and full wiring. Roy’s going to be busy 🙂
Last up is a tree that I’ve been gagging to cut back for a few years. It’s a big Chinese Elm. I left it to last so that Roy might start to believe in the method of my pruning. If he didn’t like it, I could always run away as I was finished 😀
This is it last week. You can just about see the trimming line from it’s last biggish hair cut about 2 inches into the canopy. I planned to go harder back than that.
There was a serious amount of dead branches in the interior of the tree. No light was getting in there and die back was always going to happen. As it dropped all its leaves this Winter, light had penetrated the canopy and back budding had started. These would have been lost again as soon at the canopy filled out. I removed the dead bits and started into the long over grown branches. I think Roy was initially shocked but could see the merit of the work. Before long he was as bad as me. He had to be, it was too late 🙂
Here’s the tree afterwards. Compare the size of the pot to the canopy in both photos to get an idea of how much was removed 🙂
He was happy with the job done and even allowed me to photograph all the trees at the end. Here are a few other shots taken during the 5 hours of work.
Roy trying out my camera.
The mess left on the grass after pruning.
I would like to thank Roy for letting me hack away at his trees. It was probably nerve racking at certain parts 🙂 It was Hard for me too when I wanted to go even further, but I think we hit the right balance to keep us both happy. They are his trees after all. My biggest achievement of the day was not using a single bit of wire, I’ll leave that to Roy 😀