Some Refinement Tips on a Yaupon Holly Yamadori

This is that update I had promised in the last post on this big Yamadori yaupon
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Here’s a much better pic of it
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The original post was here.
And this is how we left it, all alone on the bench
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Dramatically lit, ain’t it?
So, the dealio with this post, besides trimming it, will be a discussion on ramification and achieving it with this tree. Or, to be honest, bush.
Left side
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Right side
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Back
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So why did I point out that the dwarf yaupon holly is a bush. The ilex vomitoria is a tree. The ilex vomitoria “schillings” is a dwarf cultivar that is prized for its compact nature, small leaves and short internodes. A bush.
Which are all traits sought after in bonsai.
But, as with all trees with these traits, its too easy to simply topiary trim it to give it an appearance of a bonsai. Trim it like a bush, if you will.
Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly ok to use topiary trimming as a developmental tool, it increases ramification in the short run. I use it myself.
In the long run it causes dieback of interior branching, causes odd taper and knobs, and ultimately weakens the tree.
I treat an ilex as a perpetual growth engine. As long as the tree is growing with new branches and new wood it won’t have areas of dieback. If you are just trimming the tips (of any tree for that matter) the branches just get too woody to carry water and nutrients and that branch will die.
How does this apply to this tree?
Not much actually, as just about all the branches are young. But I needed to explain why this tree will look like it will at the end of the post.
Here are some establishing shots
Right side
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Left side
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Uh oh!
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This tree is ruined! The wire is cutting in! Oh no!
I will say this again,
“If you don’t have wire scars on your trees then you’re not using enough wire”
If all a person has to say about your trees is that the wires are cutting in or that the bark is scarred then they’re not really looking at the tree. They’re just trying to find fault to bolster their own little ego.
Speaking of little egos sucking the life
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Some ilex plants will throw up suckers from the roots. It’s best to remove them as they do pull energy away from the top of the tree.
Now, lets start the clock and see how long it takes me to finish this tree.
Screenshot
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4:58pm.
First I perform a partial defoliation
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removing the interior leaves; to make it easier to see and also to unwire the tree. It also allows for better airflow and more light to those secondary branches I do keep.
Here is a leaf affected by leaf miner
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I only found one on the tree but if its a serious problem use a systemic insecticide to kill them. They are literally within the tissue of the leaf and a topical insecticide or oil spray just won’t touch them.

This new branch is growing up
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I can utilize it if I trim here
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Now it will grow horizontally.
In this mid summer trimming is important to leave the growing tips on all the branches I’m keeping.

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I’ve learned that, on an ilex, once you trim the tip it begins to become brittle and hard to wire and bend.
One side down
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There are many new branches to work with
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Some I’ll be able to wire
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Some I won’t because they’re still too green
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Let’s talk about wiring and cutting back a branch.
This sketch shows a long thin branch
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We wire it out and give it movement
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The movement, with the twists and curves, tricks the eye into believing that the tree is older. Young things are straight, old things are gnarled and crooked.
To give more age, we need taper. A tree goes from fat to thin.
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So you cut it and grow it out again.
Then rewire
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And so forth
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Until you get a truly old looking branch
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What stage is this tree at?
It’s still in the first stage actually.
Here we are, the bush is trimmed
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Up close
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I need just a little wire. Not too much at the moment.
Left Side view
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Right side
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Click here for a 3D view if you’re on Instagram.
And the front
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It’s coming along well, considering this is only the first seasons growth and the first trimming.
Look for an update around November or so.
And how did I do on time?
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An hour and a half. Not bad considering I was photographing it at the same time.

About adamaskwhy

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

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