Now’s a great time of year to check the foliage on deciduous bonsai to see how full the crown is. If you can’t see through the tree, it may be due for some time in the workshop.
Mature beech, for example, are usually good for a single flush of growth in spring. If the tree is healthy, it’ll push long shoots. Reducing these shoots to just a few new leaves is often enough thinning for trees in middle stages of development, but if the silhouette is full or the leaves are large, reducing the leaf size can let more light fall onto the lower branches and reach into the interior of the tree.
Here’s an example of a tree that has been cut back and leaf pruned.
European beech – 33″
Before thinning, most of the tree looked like the lowest branch on the right side – dense! I removed about half of the leaves from the tallest tree and leaf pruned 80-90% of the remaining leaves to about half their original size.
The tree was bare-rooted this past repotting season so I don’t expect many new shoots this summer, but normally I’d expect at least a little summer growth.
The next step for the tree will be to remove the leaves and perform fall pruning in November or December when most of the leaves have turned color.
In the meantime, I’ll keep watering and fertilizing the tree to get it as healthy as possible before winter.
News and Updates
- The Sei Boku Bonsai Kai is hosting their 38th anniversary show this weekend at the San Mateo Garden Center at 605 Parkside Way in San Mateo. Show hours are 10-4, Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, with a demonstration Saturday at 1 by David De Groot. David is the founding curator of what is now the Pacific Bonsai Museum and author of Principles of Bonsai Design, a excellent resource focusing on bonsai styles and styling. Come early to check out the club sales and vendors in the garden area. I’ll have tools, supplies, and a few trees on hand so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello!
- At long last, the Bonsai Wire Podcast is back! Our publishing schedule won’t fully be back to normal for a while but we’d like to share a few episodes we recorded last fall while we’re gearing up for what’s next. In this episode, Sam Tan and Addison Galambos tell us how they progressed so rapidly in bonsai both in their studies and in the organizations that they help run, respectively, the Bonsai Society of San Francisco and East Bay Bonsai Society. Check out the episode at the Bonsai Wire Podcast.
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