Saturday, 27 September 2014

Ramification Pt 1

Autumn is nearly here and the leaves are starting to drop on many trees, letting us see clearly how the summer growth effected or improved the ramification of our deciduous bonsai.

I enjoy experimenting a bit with bonsai methods and I find quite a lot that many recommendations in books are not that specific, at best are generalised and often don't work that well in our climate. The first year I had the Zelcova broom I followed the book method - cutting extending growth back to a few leaves, total defoliation of the outer half of the canopy in early summer and then pruning back the new shoots to a few leaves. This was an incredibly labour intensive way to look after the tree - the defoliating alone took nearly 7 hrs in total and the results were perfectly ok, the inner leaves stayed green etc.

This year I wanted to do what felt right, so I decided to treat the pruning differently.

First cut was made as the new shoots are opening and extending while they still were soft and red. This cut was back to one or at most 2 leaves over the whole outer canopy. In effect this stopped all extension growth.

The pruned shoots changed from red to woody, the remaining leaved continued to grow a bit and they hardened off. Now I cut all these leaves in half just like a beech or palmatum so lots of light could penetrate past the outer canopy and reach the inner tree. This gave a huge advantage as the terminal buds have stayed dormant - (defoliating makes them open and the tree outline gets bigger). Over the rest of the year I've just cut any strong shoots that extend past the outline and thats it.

The picture shows the tree from underneath - all the leaves inside the tree are perfectly green and it is amazing to see the whole tree is full of living inner shoots - quite funny when another bonsai 'expert' was overheard at a show saying this tree would have no ramification under the dense outer canopy of leaves ! haha.

Proof of the pudding - I've never had a deciduous tree reach Oct with this many perfectly healthy leaves on it from virtually the trunk to the outside.

Feeding has been our Bonsai boost pellets - 2 baskets at a time but only 3 times all year....and our fish emulsion about 12-15 times after pruning. No feed was put on before the leaves were cut in half.

This pic shows how we've kept the whole tree open and airy all year - this has let loads of light in 

Tree was repotted to a better front this year too

And the music..............