Mid spring trimming tutorial

Since it’s raining and I can’t go carve my neea from the previous post I’ll write up a quick article on these two ilex.
I haven’t shown any work on them yet but the principles here are for the creation of age in the small branches
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They’re nice little trees.
Ilex vomitoria “schillings” are perfect for this style; which I shall call “Tree Style”.
They are not stylized Asian trees but have a more natural feel to them.
If they were growing in the wild these trees would be in the open (straight trunk, big rounded canopy), and fairly old (thick trunk and spreading nebari).
The goal with the wiring and pruning it to give the branching twists and turns which are indicative of old trees.
I recently read that Dan Robinson calls this process of giving the young branches as many gnarled and tortured movements as “giving them baby bends”.
He didn’t use this terminology when he was through Florida a while back but he did show us and explain why it happens in nature.
The older the tree the more it has to use gravity to get water high into the canopy.
A branch grows up and then down an up again (it is air pressure and surface tension that brings water up; the branch growing down is using gravity to move the water more efficiently) and then it’s shaded by an upper branch so it has to go right or left etc.
The older the tree, the more twists and dog legs and back tracks.
And that’s what I’m trying here, since the trees aren’t that impressive.
First tree before trimming
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And after trimming
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I could defoliate the tree if I wanted but I’m not too concerned with leaf size yet.
It’s time to remove some wire
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That cutting in is not the end of the world. It will add to the gnarly-ish-ness.
On a tree this small I find it exceedingly difficult to (as is my want) unwrap the wire.
If you are watching me you will probably see me doing this:
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using my scissors as a prying tool.
You should use needle-nose pliers or Jin pliers
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like thus.
I just tend to use the tool in hand. Classic “Do as I say and not as I do”. I know.

This is an example of a more than right angled branch.
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And the tree all wired up
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It has a nice, airy feeling now. You can almost see the birds and butterflies flying through the branches……
Next is this artistically and dramatically potted ilex
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I really like the base on this one and the structure is unique. Very unconventional.
It’s grown a lot since the first pruning
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I styled these in January and I’ve let them both grow out.
I have lots to work with. I’ve removed the inside leaves to show you the new branches
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Which are here, here, here, here, here
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To achieve my twisty, turny branching I will use wiring
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And clip and grow
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Which will give me a branch like this
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And the combination of the two will give me some nice branching.
And the finished result:
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A few more years and they will be even sweeter.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in maintenance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mid spring trimming tutorial

  1. Skip says:

    Can’t wait to meet you ,you are talented! Should be moving down around sept. to vero beach. hope I’m not being pushy.

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