Bonsai Trees

Case Histories

Field Maple - (acer campestre)

Field Maple Bonsai Style: Informal Upright

In complete contrast, this second field maple started life as a much smaller seedling, probably just over two years old. It was also planted in the garden, but I always intended it to become a much smaller bonsai.

With a good root system, this tree was soon growing well after only a matter of weeks. The trunk was pencil thin and needed to develop considerably.

Field Maple Bonsai History: Training

I pruned off all branches and trimmed the growth at the top. Abundant buds then formed all over the trunk and the subsequent branches were not pruned at all over the next two years.

During this time it was fed well and watered in dry weather. The result was a shrubby tangle of branches, with shoots emerging in all directions and as they were well distributed, the trunk was beginning to thicken nicely. It remained in the ground for a further year and I trimmed all of the shoots regularly to slow the growth down as the trunk was nearing the size that I wanted.

Most of the branches were pruned off the next spring and I was left with a small, powerful and interestingly shaped trunk. By allowing so many branches to grow all over the trunk, thickness and taper had been introduced without heavy pruning scars. The small wounds would soon callous over and vanish as the bark grew over them.

Digging up the tree I noticed some good surface roots at the base of the trunk. Directly above there was a large root, spoiling the arrangement. I pruned off this overpowering root, enabling the buttress to be better exposed.

The heavy roots were pruned hard to encourage fibrous roots closer to the trunk and I planted the tree in a large rectangular pot.

It grew well that year and I removed several branches near the base to expose more lower trunk, making it appear more treelike.

It remained in this pot for a further two years whilst the branches slowly extended. I fed sparingly to encourage twiggy growth and leaf pruned each year. After this time I purchased a small, pinky/grey pot with this bonsai in mind. By being so much more contained, the tree appeared larger and the unglazed area at the bottom of the pot was almost the exact colour of the trunk. This pot could have been made for the tree!

Every year this field maple is always the last of my trees to leaf out. It is also one of the last to drop its leaves when, for a couple of weeks, I enjoy its magical buttercup yellow autumnal colours.

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