Japanese Maple Acer Palmatum “Murasaki Kiyohime”

Bonsai Penjing & More

This “Murasaki Kiyohime” dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) has been growing in a local nursery as a landscape tree for about 30 years, yet it is less than three-foot tall. When I first saw it, I was attracted by its potential of becoming a natural style bonsai. I asked the nursery owner for permission to prune the tree, removed cross-branches, thinned out unwanted branches so that the overall structure is more airy. The total height was also reduced so that it has a better proportion with the thickness and height of the main trunk.

The pruned tree could easily go into a pot as a bonsai anyone would be proud of. I am contented with the joy of pruning this beautiful tree, never asked if it was for sale, and would be happy that it stays in the nursery ground for everyone to enjoy. I would go back every year to prune it. Being over excited, I forgot to take a photo of the tree before…

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Deshojo Acer

Beautiful colour on this Maple. Wouldn’t mind having one with such red leaves.


My Deshojo has finally decided to break into leaf. The display of colour each spring never fails to excite. The young and tender growth with it’s deep colour is just beautiful and as the leaves gradually open they show the promise of what is still to follow. Thankfully, unlike very much else in life, this tree always keeps it’s promise.

My objective for the tree this season is to develop a more convincing triangular shape. The tree has always looked too much like a narrow column and I need to continue to allow the lower foliage to grow outwards and at the same time keep short distances between the nodes for better ramification.

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Spring Watering Tip-

michael hagedorn

There are a lot of things we might say about watering bonsai. I’ve tried a few times on this blog to mention some of them. Some are hard to make sense of in words, but as ever I’m willing to try. This one is about watering recently repotted trees.

At post-repotting time we need to be awake to one change-up, and that is that the interior soil mass (the part that was returned to the pot) may dry out much faster than you’d think.

  • If that interior area is full of fine roots, it will dry out fast after repotting.

DSC_1145 This pine is beginning to develop a solid mass of soil and roots, and this is the area that we’ll take our moisture ‘read’ from when deciding when to water. When dry, it will look very light colored compared to the surrounding new soil.

If you cut all the fine…

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A ficus, really?

Nebari Bonsai

When we moved to Alabama, the growing seasons were long enough that there was no need for tropical trees to keep me busy in the wintertime. I’ve long-advocated for growing what grows in your area, and have managed to steer clear of tropical trees for the last 15 years…until last August.

Not to make this a post on the genealogy of my in-laws, but a twice-removed cousin in-law who practiced bonsai in New Orleans, and later moved to Virginia, passed a couple years ago, and his ficus nerifolia eventually made it’s way to me in Birmingham, via North Carolina. Got it? Good…quiz later.

His wife recalled that he owned and trained the tree as a bonsai for 50 years. At one time, he thought it was dead and threw it down a hillside at the back of his property; so it spent a couple years laying on the backside of…

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