It’s time for some progress reports.
Here are four trees I’ve been working on. One tree you’ve never seen before, unless you’re a Facebook friend, on Instagram or the /r/bonsai board on Reddit.
Here they are before work:
Well, the last one above I worked on and removed the wires about 2 weeks ago and I wanted to show it and the summertime growth habits of the ilex schillings.
Lets start with The Pig.
Today it looks like this
The first post I wrote on it was here and it looked like this:
The second post was here and it looked like this:
The last post was this spring. The growth here
is all this year.
If you read the last progression piece you’ll see that I didn’t remove the wire then. Now it’s time.
I’ll probably only do one more major trimming in the fall with some wiring thrown in.
Next we have the crepe myrtle from this post here
This is how we left it less than a month ago
And now
Yes indeedy, I would call that a foot of growth, at least
The technique here is to cut the new growth back to 2 sets of leaves. And removing some of the big leaves.
It’s too early on some of that new growth for wire but it will need it soon.
As far as deciduous trees are concerned, the crepe develops faster than any of them. I will do this at least two or three more times to this tree before winter.
Next, introducing this magnificent, hollow trunk ilex.
This was the tree earlier in the spring
The work on this entails removing the wire and trimming
I know what’s going through your minds: it doesn’t look much different than the first styling.
It doesn’t. Until you look at the thickness of the branches and the new secondary branching that’s on it.
The ilex will, after you cut it hard, bud back profusely; I cut back more than half of the new growth. In a few weeks time it will fill in again.
I am amazed at the extensive hollowness of this trunk.
And yet, the vigor of the tree is not slowed down at all by it.
Which brings us to this tree
I trimmed and unwired it about two weeks ago.
It was first shown here and looked like this
I had trimmed it just as severe as the two previous ilex and its filled in again
As I did with the three previous trees, I chose not to wire it either.
In the summer I like them to grow unrestricted and not have to worry about wire cutting in.
I reapply fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed preventer and now at least these four trees are ready for summer.
I’ll revisit them in early fall and post some pics then.
The next update post will be on this monster.
I’m going to time myself to see how long it takes me to get it back to shape all by my lonesome while taking pictures too.

11 thoughts

  1. Just when I thought my ficus were growing like weeds I see this post. I wasn’t sure about it when you first posted it, but the Triangularis is looking good. The hollow trunk is still my favorite I think.


  2. Well, the same folks offering me the elm have a whole boatload of small fruit trees that desperately need pruned, and they’ve told me if I help with the pruning I can take as many cuttings as I want. Pear, plum, apricot, and mulberry. They were all neglected for a long time, since no one was living at that place, but they’re in the process of refurbishing the house and want to move back out, and want to make a stab at making them all produce again, eventually.

    The mulberry is producing (I picked some today, super sweet and delicious) but the pears, apricots and plums have all bushed out with sucker branches and aren’t, so that’s what the plan is, along with cleaning up the mulberry and getting rid of dead wood on it.

    This is going to be a lot of fun! Just wanted to share the excitement with you!


    1. The pear, apricot and plum might have been grafted and, if so, the suckers are probably coming from the bottom root stock. So definitely remove those suckers as they are sapping the strength of the top growth. The pruning of fruit trees (if you want fruit) is very time-of-the-year specific so you might want to ask the agricultural extension office when the top growth should be pruned.
      Good luck!


      1. This is actually a family property, my great grandfather built the house and part of the family is moving back in. I don’t know how likely it is that trees roughly 40 years old would be grafted… right now the plan for pruning is just to get rid of the suckers, then let the trees do their thing for a while.

        I know my great grandmother put them in and they produced for her, she canned a bunch of the fruit. The house was built in the 40’s but I have no idea when these trees were put in. A friend of the family that has experience with orchards said that if we get them pruned back and putting less energy into the suckers they should eventually produce again.

        So if you have any idea how likely it would be that a farm wife would get ahold of grafted trees sometime between the 40’s and the 70’s, that would be really useful!


      2. It’s very likely. Grafting has been around for a couple of thousand years. It’s the only way to get apples that are true. Few fruit trees will grow true from seed (the same characteristics as the fruit you ate).


      3. Knowing my grandparents, it is *possible* that they were planted from pits. But I’ll look close when we start removing the suckers and see if I can determine what’s fruit and what’s rootstock.


  3. ok doing more digging in the family memories, the trees got planted in the late ’70s, They came from one of the USDA programs as about six inch “seedlings.” Dad doesn’t think that they were grafted, but he isn’t sure.

    So that’s all the info I have, if that helps you know whether they were grafted or not. There’s also a plum in another spot that was definitely grown from seed.


  4. Incredible growth !! Since I can’t leave, I may send some of my guys down to vacation at your place for the summer for a little rehabilitation. 🙂 Thanks for the pruning tip (2 sets of leaves) on the crepe. From what I’ve noticed here, it may just branch out at the second set of leaves – that should help fill in nicely. Great work; keep it coming – this old sponge is still dry as a bone!


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