Here’s a neat project. This little trident maple clump has some history. It was purchased, from another Central Florida nursery by Ben, from Agresta Gardens. He didn’t pay too much for it, if you parted it out, but as a whole, it wasn’t that cheap.

Actually thinking about it, it was about average price, surprisingly. Anyway….

At the 2018 Bsf convention, he had it on display in a neat fan pot.

Unfortunately, a clumsy person (that should have known better) in a moment of inattention and a serious lack of situational awareness, knocked it off the table and the trees spilled out of the pot.

This kinda killed off some of the trees. It’s not a good time, at the end of May, in Florida, to barefoot trident maples. needless to say, some of the trees suffered from their treatment.

It is, however, time to repot them now, in February.

Here’s the new pot. I got it from a down-on-his-luck bonsai guy who had some bills to pay. It’s some type of Japanese pot, maybe tokoname or some such. I probably paid too much but the dude had legal bills to pay due to some indiscretions. I’m a big softy sometimes. I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t like it, I’m not that much of a bleeding heart, but I’m sure the money went to a useful end.

So what does one do with a half dead clump?

Simple, add more trees!

Let’s see….one dead tree dropped to the ground already….and this one my pointer finger is, well, pointing to, is dead.

And the one next to it too….

This one is alive, by the scratch test I just did.

Lots of roots, mostly alive too.

It’ll go in kinda like this

But first I need to prep the other trees.

I got some of them from Mat Ouwinga of Kaede Bonsai-en, some I got from a company called Superior Trees, and some are cuttings, believe it or not. The ones from Mat are a better variety, with short internodes and many buds.

The ones from Superior Trees are cheaper (like .43¢ each per 100, and they drop dramatically the more you buy, but you need to order now for next year, as they’re sold out). The problem, for us, is they have been grown with synthetic fertilizers and the internodes are far far away, but, they tend to be thicker in girth off the bat too.

The cuttings I made have the best nebari (root spread) and are my favorite for growing out.

Prepping the trees for this planting means just some weeding and removal of just a few roots.

The pruning will wait until everything is planted.

Be aggressive, they are dormant and can take the abuse.

Especially with the weeds. You want the planting to be weed free as the roots need to intertwine with each other to form a dense mat. And pulling weeds in June make for weaker trees.

These are tubers from a nasty weed.

A little butter and garlic and they fry up pretty good though. There we go. Weed free since just now.

They fit! I’m done here….just a quick hand washing and it’s Miller time.

Not really. Now is the “arty farty” part.

This one looks like a good first tree.

That’s usually the fattest trunked one. It’ll be the focal point.

One mistake people make with forest plantings is they space the trees too far away. You need to shove them together and create clumps. Go walk in a natural forest, Mother Nature doesn’t go by the USDA’s minimum planting space guidelines. As for securing the trees in place, I take wire and tie all the trees together above the soil. I learned that from Joe Day.

Try not to line up the trees in straight rows, vary the trunk girth and heights, and try to make the canopy flow.


Remember we need a dense mat of roots, so fill in the soil into the empty spaces.

No straight rows….

The sphagnum is to help with moisture control and root growth (it’s thought that the acidity of sphagnum helps to grow roots).

The trees I added need some ramification but that’ll come in time.

Now we wait for spring.

Ahhh! Who can wait?! Here’s a virtual for you.

Simple, humble, quiet.

I like it.

6 thoughts

  1. You showed how a great composition can come even with poor materials. I like it too. I didn’t know sphagnum helps roots growth, i will do a good use of your advice. Thanks Adam


  2. I can imagine myself walking through this forest of trees…… I have read all of your posts from the the very beginning, but only decided to post now. I am a beginnner bonsai person still learning to water my mallsai after 2 years. I have learnt from you that my beginner trees are ok and it’s acceptable to like them even though they are mass produced and have mad curvy trunks with wire bite in marks because they are my trees and for that I thank you. Keep on posting.


  3. Awesome post!
    Can you create a blog describing all the places to procure the seedlings, pre-bonsai raw material and various soils?


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