Working on old or neglected bonsai is one of my favorite tasks. At a recent Bay Island Bonsai workshop, an old Japanese maple grove got the works. The owner is working to make something of these old trees whose roots have fused together long ago.
Japanese maple grove
The project is not inspired by wonderful trunk lines or branching – these elements will be built from scratch, as evidenced by numerous scars.
Scars – major work underway
The rootbase is in better shape, though it too needs lots of work.
To improve the nebari, the tree’s owner removed roots growing from the bottom of the rootbase. This is slow work that will encourage the lateral roots that make the transition from the rootbase through the base of the trunk more attractive.
Rootbase from below
Root work complete – downward growing roots removed
Once the rootbase is in shape, the tree goes back in a pot.
Ready to be repotted
Repotting rarely provides the dramatic moments we look for in demonstrations, but it makes trees healthy enough to withstand the dramatic moments that come later. I don’t know what the future holds for this maple grove, but I’m confident that it will grow well this year.
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