Thursday, 2 February 2017

Post 332 Sacrificial branches

Every experience with sacrificial branches that Ive had has convinced me of their effectiveness. There are just a couple of tricks with them.
  • First up is patience to allow them to get big enough to work.
  • Then not leave them on too long to leave a chop like transition.
  • Position them so that when removed the scar adds to rather than detracts from the composition.
  • Place the sacrifice for best effect, not too low and not too high. Or on a branch not at the end and not too close to the trunk.
  • And most importantly as they get bigger to balance the energy draw of the sacrifice branch and the tree so that the tree continues to be sustained and grows for development. The sacrifice branch will need occasional hard pruning to prevent it taking over.
Here are some examples I've got working at the moment; all on Natalensis ficus.

The plan for these first two is to produce small trees (currently about 120mm) with heavy trunks in a short time. These two are two years old.

This one is 4 years old and features in Bonsai Foundations. As you can see the sacrifice branch has been regularly pruned, usually to coincide with pruning of the tree itself.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Post 231 Trunk thickening

Six months ago I wanted to take a picture to support a description of the air layering process for my book, 'Bonsai Foundations'. So I cut a ring of bark from the sacrificial branch on a Ficus natalensis, also featured in the book. At the point of the incision it is probably 25 to 28mm diameter.

Here it is with the bark removed. After taking the photo I returned the ring of bark and bound it up with grafting tape. The branch never missed a beat and very quickly healed/sealed up the cuts. On the following photo you can see the cut site and the swelling that arose from the recovery.

I struck this tree from a small cutting in 2012. That makes it 4 years old. The sacrifice branch has made a big difference to the development of the trunk and taper.

 This is a closeup of the site and you can clearly see the callus tissue that has formed in the cuts to seal it all up. It has produced an interesting swelling. Impact or penetration damage to a tunk has been known to result in swelling repair and this can be a useful way to address reverse taper.

 This is the start of a new experiment further down the same branch. This time I'm cutting out a crown shaped piece of bark. Here it is cut around the edges.

 This is the piece of bark removed.

 And where it came from.

 Here it has been returned.

 And then finally bound up with grafting tape while it seals up and recovers. I'll post the outcome in a couple of months time. The experiment is to assess the value of doing this at ground level of a trunk with limited taper.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Post 230 Tree structure - UK Visit #3 - Low divided trunks

This is the third and last in this series of three posts on Trees in the UK winter. I've been reflecting on the structure of deciduous trees, looking at the range of variation in trunk division from high to low as in these sketches from 'Bonsai Foundations'.

This post shows a series of pictures of trees with low trunk division. These are all good authentic legitimate models for deciduous bonsai design.