A Trick to Try with Your Wisteria this Summer-

michael hagedorn

This is a fun technique to ramify your wisteria.

  • After the first flush of leaves has hardened off in early summer, and flowers are long gone, take each leaf and cut them down to two leaflets. This will result in a very thin looking bonsai, and you may wish to provide light shade for a week or two to avoid sun scald.
  • Fertilize and water well. Unlike some bonsai, fertilizing wisteria in the spring does not seem to dampen flowering much.
  • In several weeks your wisteria should flush again and it may well re-flower. The more times the wisteria flowers, the more ramification you’ll get. The ramification comes from the first several inches of the flower raceme, which sports new leaves and also flower buds for next year.

Try this technique only on trees that seem vigorous and have sent out some runners, and if you’ve at least two more…

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Choosing the Front: Old Collected Trees

michael hagedorn

How do we choose a front on an older, collected tree?

A few tips:

  • Keep an eye out for fronts that show a trunk line that is not an S curve
  • Use the special features of the tree; this might be unusual movement, shari, live vein, jin, old branch, cavity, or even bark
  • Be willing to have a pigeon breast if other, greater features may be featured
  • Clean the dead areas of the tree of bark, exposing shari that might influence front choice
  • Remember that inclination is as important as front, and is chosen at the same time
  • Be aware that large roots on collected trees can pose an angle limit to some inclinations, yet root mounds are more acceptable as well

Very old bunjin Ponderosa pine has all of 7 twists in the live vein (that’s 2,520 degrees). Several front and inclination choices exist for this one—tree from Backcountry Bonsai

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New Book: ‘Bonsai Heresy’

michael hagedorn

This book has been in the works for some years now. To those who were aware of this and have been asking ad nauseam when it will be done, I now have an answer. Soon.

Bonsai Heresy is about the myths of common bonsai technique and thought. The book recounts some of my past misdeeds, looks into our group fallacies, and works to correct the most ill-advised of these techniques and ideas using the tools of tradition, science, common sense, and embarrassing stories.

The book has over 50 chapters of technical and aesthetic myths, including some half-correct ones like ‘Choose the front first’ and ‘Pigeon breasts are naughty’, lays out the debunking science behind B1 and other chemical additives, offers new thoughts in such debates as ‘Any soil the nursery industry uses will work fine for bonsai’, ‘Copper wire is for boneheads / Aluminum wire is for sissies’, ‘Bonsai is an…

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Candle-Cutting time 2018

Nebari Bonsai

It takes about 100 days for the second flush of JBP growth to finish and harden off. That needs to happen before the first frost, so find your first frost date, and count back 100 days. That is when you should decandle black pines.

First up, this Arakawa cultivar from Telperion Farms. This one looks goofy because I’m letting the first right branch run wild for a few years in hopes of getting a back-bud closer to the trunk.

Done. See that “Irish moss” in the photo above? That stuff has to go. It is invasive, has a big root system, and prevents the soil from drying out. Interestingly, it starts out as very pretty deep green velvety moss. But don’t let it fool you!

Next up is this JBP, originally styled by Peter Warren in 2011. It’s coming along nicely. I like the trunk movement at this planting angle…

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Ficus Nerifolia revisited

Nebari Bonsai

I’ve had this old ficus for almost 4 years now. The history is here, if you care for the family back story. It got off to a slow start this year, and I thought maybe a repot into fresh soil and a slightly larger pot may help. This shot is from last summer:

And this year, after a few months in the basement window it was looking pretty rough. Repotted in a Koyo pot with some new soil should help:

I reduced the left stump in an attempt to create the illusion of a strong first left branch:

An improvement, me thinks.

The aerial root has always taken away from the base and trunk line. I have been conditioned to keep all aerial roots, but this one has been bothering me a bit for a while.

Now the trunkline is beginning to show some taper and movement.

A trim:

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