This post is actually an update of this post.
We have two trees to work with today (to be honest it took two evenings) and a lot of pics. I’ll try to be less verbose than usual (verbose is such a verbose word, isn’t it?).
The trees are both forestiera segregatas: Florida privet or swamp privet.
They’re not true ligustrums (privet) but they are in the olive family (currently; as plant geneticists work their way through the millions of plants some of the familiar plants are being shuffled around. The old way of classification was visual. If they looked similar they must be related)
I’ll work on the bigger one first.
Reading over the last post, I carved it, did the initial wiring and reduced the roots to fit it into a bonsai pot.
Today I’ll be removing the old wire, rewiring (including the new branches) and repotting it into a ceramic bonsai pot.
Here’s a view of the back, right and left sides
As I alluded to in the last post, the Florida privet has very persistent deadwood but also the living tissue inexplicably will stay alive and thrive with very little behind it
Which is what I exploited in the design of the hollow on this trunk (you have to read part one of this post here).
The routine as I practice it.
Remove wire, then trim, then repot, then rewire and finish prune.
So……remove wire
And this is what I want to see- wire marks
Why? Why in the whole wide history of bonsai and the world do I want wire marks? Oh, woe is me!
This tree, like many tropical trees, will not stay wired unless the wire cuts in. Or more specifically, the branch has to have grown enough to grow around the wire.
There just isn’t any way for the branch to set if it doesn’t grow in the wired position.
I’ll show you what I mean on the second tree.
Back to this tree though.
Ah! You can see the structure.
Let me point out this branch now
Do you see it?
It’s staying.
You could remove every “bad” and unconventional branch that every bonsai teacher has told you to remove and make the tree fit some cookie cutter, stylized and preconceived aesthetic and what you end up with is a collection of mediocre, lookalike trees.
If you read the first article I said that I liked this branch because it set the whole tone of the tree.
To expand on this, if this were a jazz or rock song this branch is the riff that the whole song structure is built upon.
It’s one of the first branches you see (because it sticks out) and I’ve taken every other branch and wired and placed them to complement this branch.
Lets wire!

I plan on turning the tree a little in the new pot
The new pot is shallower so I will need to remove a few unnecessary roots
That one was ugly
Here’s the finished tree
And the front
Now for the little tree
Looks more like a bush at this point.
I think I’ll turn it as well and make more deadwood on this tree
These two branches will go
Now, pay attention to this part.
I wired both of these trees at the same time last year. I removed the wire on the little one in April. The big one’s wire was just removed, (remember the wire marks) those branches stayed where they were wired.
This one’s branches
did not.
No wire scars. Lets let that sink in.
Got it?
Lets defoliate and prune
That’s enough to work with.
I promised carving so, here you go
It’s hard to teach carving on a blog.
I am teaching a class at Erik Wigert’s nursery on October 13 and 14 but the classes are all booked.
I’ll be giving a power point presentation on Sunday morning (which, if you wanted to crash, that’s the best time to do it) and then a workshop Sunday afternoon and another workshop Monday morning.
Anyway, time to repot.
First, lets find a pot:
Too dark, too small
Too big and chunky
Too purple
This ones not bad, a little wide
It’s even signed
But not right.
This one is good
Not deep enough though
Almost right
Damn, you never have the right pot
This one is too wide too
And this one is ugly
And this one is…..wait
It’s not perfect but its just plain enough to be inconspicuous.
Ok, now to wire it before I lose the light
I should do a wiring class at my nursery.
A class on not just the mechanics but on the reason we put branches where they should go.
Mostly it’s learning how branches grow.
Sometimes it’s pure aesthetics too.
On this branch a rule was broken
First person to tell me where and why in a comment I’ll give a prize. You just have to come pick it up.
Here we go
Wait, not quite right.
What’s bugging me?
The branches are all the same distance apart.
How’s this?
Just by moving the secondary branches a bit you can hide a small flaw like that.
I suspect I’ll refine the carving one more time and fill in those spaces between the branches a little better as the tree grows.
Not bad for swamp weeds huh?

14 thoughts

  1. The middle twig, I think, the wire goes over the top instead of underneath on the first wrap. If I’m recalling my research correctly, that’s “Breaking A Rule”… the point being that by going underneath first you’re supporting the branch or twig in whatever else you’re doing…. but that looks sturdy enough and doesn’t look like you were changing it too drastically so it strikes me as one of those moments where (if I’m right, though it would be danged hard for me to pick up a prize if I am, being in Colorado) the rule is more of a guideline.


    1. That’s not the rule I’m breaking. When there’s so much wire how a wire is going doesn’t matter much, sometimes you have to improvise.
      A hint, it’s not in the wiring.


      1. Then I’m out of my depth on the technicalities. I admit most of my research so far has been of the “don’t kill it and don’t break it” variety. I’m guessing there’s some aesthetic “rule” that is being broken but… it looks to me like that will develop into a perfectly lovely portion of the tree as a whole, which is good enough for me.


    2. I usually wire with the wire on the outside of the bend to keep it from breaking. That is where this bend is in relation to the wire. The support is for prevention of breaking. The branch can support itself and is encased in wire that holds it in place in any case.


  2. you have removed the Apex leader to the branch and are now using a secondary branches tertiary side branch (i’m getting lost in the numbers) as the new apex leader. typically a branch would come forward from the tree and fan out in an almost triangular shape ( seen in other posts of yours) here the branch comes forward and fans out in an almost rectangular pattern. Further the branches are opposite each other where most Bonsai enthusiasts will want to stagger the branches. When this comes up on my trees I usually say ‘What, you don’t like it? Well, thats why there chocolate and vanilla.”


    1. I got lost there too but you got the last bit right. There are three branches (like a trident) coming off the end of the branch. My rule is to cut at least one but I needed all those branches. When one of the side branches grow out I’ll cut out the middle. Or maybe not. The reason is part horticulture and part art. The branch may swell at that union and cause a ball. Which is ugly and weak


      1. I didn’t know the tree could grow a weekness from that. Makes me want to go take a quick inventory of my tree’s.


  3. Is the power point presentation you are doing on carving able to be put into a post on your blog so all of us that can’t fly to Florida can get some of your great carving knowledge?? Or if not, would it be something you are willing to share thru email?


  4. There are 3 branch in this loop is almost like a y’s shape.. 2 small branch and a big one ..the big one suppose to be the first one but it cant happen because is a bit higher then the first small branch you keep.. the reason you hold off on it is to make the first branch I right adam. .I from orlando could I come get the prize (‘-*)


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