I recently came across an interesting Momiji (Japanese Maple) project with nice subtle curves and slow elegant taper – great features for a raw stock Momiji.
Now you may have noticed one or two major details about this tree… 1. It is in major need of a repotting which luckily when these photos were taken was the perfect time to embark on this operation and 2. How do we successfully get rid of that huge sacrifice branch? Stay tuned and you will find out!
Can you say roots? further evidence that this tree was in need of a repotting.
Typically we would start by raking out the bottom of the tree but in this case i wanted to begin by removing some of the weeds/moss and finding the nebari… Then onto the bottom. I use a single prong root hook to do this work and a 3 pronged root rake for the bottom.
After raking out the bottom of the root-mass slightly I found a pleasant surprise – this tree had been planted on a board by the previous grower. This makes my job a lot easier.
Then I went on to remove some unsightly larger surface roots on this tree…
This root was emerging from underneath initially and then on a different plane than the rest of the nebari. When developing a good nebari on deciduous species we want to have all roots on the same plane or level. This is the way to develop a nice fused or “melted” nebari over time.
This root is crossing over a root that we would like to keep – not good for the future nebari by any means.
This root is crossing over another root that we would like to keep and growing inwards towards the trunk – this must be removed to develop a nice nebari in the future.
Now we have the root ball after removal of most unsightly and downward growing roots. Note: I did not remove as much roots as I could have or in some cases should have… At the moment I am most focused on healing the wound left behind from removing that large sacrifice branch and a lot of energy in bonsai is stored in the roots – Happy roots=happy tree.
A second Note: Again, in the case of this tree I am most focused on healing that large wound we have been talking about. At this time there is no precedent set on developing ramification or shortening internodes. Larger particles and more pumice which both dry out quicker typically deliver more root growth which results in an overall stronger tree.
Here is a photo of the tree after the repotting was finished and before making any judicious cuts.
Here is a closeup of the cut that was made – the initial cut was made with a saw, then chisel and cleaned up with a sharp knife. This technique was brought to fame by the great Ebihara. He would typically do a wedge cut as seen below but i am experimenting with a more square cut to see if there is any advantage to this method of doing the cut. He also brought the nail and board technique of arranging and developing roots on deciduous tree to fame.
This puts us at an advantage in two ways – 1. We are using energy from two branches which means that come this spring there will be strong growth healing both sides of the cut 2. Doing this cut in two stages versus one also allows the tree to heal a smaller wound in 2 stages versus a large wound all at once which will result in a quicker closing cut.
Make sure to apply a liberal amount of cut paste or would sealant after the cut is cleaned with a sharp blade.
And the “finished” product – for now that is.
I plan to make a medium sized tree but the growth will be kept long for now to aid in the healing the wound left behind by the sacrifice branch.
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