Sunday, March 30, 2008


I wanted to introduce a member of the crew—a Kiyohime Japanese maple. This was propagated for bonsai, not grafted, and originally trained by Suthin Sukosolvisit. There has been much confusion about the Kiyohime cultivar. I’ve seen many trees labeled as such that are upright growers. It is a horizontally growing tree, so it’s very difficult to establish an apex branch. Each spring, the tallest growing bud will be the last to open instead of the first. It still does not have a primary apex branch—I’m not sure it will ever have one. It’s giving the impression of a triangle this season, which brings some much-needed formality and completeness to the tree.

During its initial shipment, a major top branch broke, so it has been filling back out since. It has extremely dense branch ramification and an enormous nebari, which practically fills the entire pot. My plan is to continue refinement and attempt to define an apex branch. I’ve been recently considering transplanting the tree into a large container since it has such a large spread, such as this.

I arrived back from a recent vacation and noticed a small branch had broken. I realized I should have reiterated its brittle tendencies to the caretaker. I’ve included a photo, the branch is very small, but it will still take several years to replace. It was very refined with many nodes.

Broken branch

Spring 07'

Winter 07'

Spring 08'

The growth is more compact, the leaves are slightly smaller, and its shape is more pronounced.


Both my shohin Japanese and Trident maples appear to have an iron deficiency this spring. They’ve been fertilized well, but never treated with iron. A local bonsai artist mentioned to me recently that he generally gets burn when using chelated iron. He has since switched to the current method used by the Japanese—rusty old nails. Just space the nails evenly around the pot and their rusting provides a slow, even amount of iron to the root system. I tend to learn the hard way, so I decided to treat my trees with the chelated iron. We’ll see how they’re affected. If I see positive results, I will likely treat the rest of the crew.

My current growing area...

I recently moved to Savannah, GA from the Midwest. I was unable to bring my current benches, which is just as well since they were not meant for bonsai use—basically two-tier utility benches. As you can see, I’m currently benchless, except for a one-tree bench I’ve borrowed. I switch around the tree on the bench to avoid any feelings of favoritism among the crew. My trees are basically positioned on wooden blocks to raise them from the ground. On a positive note, they’ve had a good spring thus far—the space provides sufficient ventilation and approximately two hours of direct early-afternoon sunlight.


This blog should be of interest to those involved in the art of bonsai and its many sub-cultures, and those who have a general interest in gardening. I will be documenting the development of my trees, in addition to anything else I feel would be of interest to the readers of this blog. My specialty is Acer palmatum (primarily dwarf), but I also have experience with Carpinus and many other species. I'm currently working on a bench/pedestal project, and in the upcoming weeks, plan to document the creation of a Japanese-themed garden using a confined space. I encourage anyone to offer feedback to my posts.