I have worked on this tree a long time – and it still has a long way to go. Shoots on the key branch are only two years old, and I have yet to “fix” the right side of the apex. It’s been a great project as the tree has been in my family since before I was born. Funny thing is, I still don’t know the variety. The flowers are white and fragrant, the fruit is small and yellow. I’ll make a note here when I find an answer and I’ll welcome any guesses in the mean time.
Left to its own devices, this tree does a remarkable job taking care of itself. You’ll notice that the before and after photos are quite similar. That’s because the tree usually grows just enough each year. During summer I wire and/or cut back the longest shoots while letting the rest develop at their own pace.
This tree also has the super habit of budding back on its own. After the spring growth hardens off, summer brings new shoots at the tips, and frequently at the base, of most branches. I’d be hard pressed to name a better quality in a bonsai.
Despite its modest growth habits, this tree grows roots like a champ making annual repotting a must. Fortunately, because the tree has been growing in good soil for so long, repotting is a breeze.
Pot by Michael Hagedorn
It would be remiss of me to not mention the pot. I purchased it from Michael Hagedorn at a GSBF convention years ago in Sacramento, CA. It’s one of my favorites. I bought it with a hinoki in mind but soon found it was far too small for the tree. It fits this plum just right.
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Ya know, it almost looks like the dwarf asian pairs that Jim Gremmel has. They also have small yellow fruit. Though you are right, the leaves really look like plum. Beautiful tree whatever it is, I love the lower trunk and nebari.
Scott Straley says
Wonderful tree, especially since it has been in the family for so long. It also has some great bark building up at the base and a superb pot, nice work.
Tom Tynan says
Jonas…Whne you prune back your plum trees – aren’t you pruning next year’s flower buds as well ? I thought waiting til Fall was best for most Prunus sp. – that way the leaf bud can be distinguished from the flowereding bud – any thoughts on this ??? Tom
Tom – as I understand it the best times to cut shoots on deciduous trees depends on the goal of the cutback. I’m more likely to let developing branches grow for an entire season than I am for more refined branches. As a result, I wired the new primary and secondary shoots on the first branch without cutting these back at all. I want the curves at the base of these branches to set for now – I’ll cut them back vigorously in fall or early spring when the tree is in bloom. I cut back the longish shoots on the refined branches to preserve and encourage more delicate growth. As you can see from the photo, very few shoots fell into this category. Trimming these produces better ramification and weakens the strong areas making for better overall balance. That’s the goal anyway. After more than 40 years in training as a bonsai the tree is pretty well behaved.
You’re right about the flowers too – I rarely think about that as I’m so focused on producing the branches needed to create a beautiful silhouette. Their fragrance is wonderful. After I redevelop the entire upper right-hand side of the tree and begin to prepare it for exhibit I’ll start paying more attention to the flower buds.