Large trident air-layer!

Trident maple before pruning

Trident maple after pruning

Trident maple air-layer/half inch bark removed

Trident maple place in 8 inch pot before green moss.
This is a nice trident maple that a friend brought to me.  I saw it at his place and thought it would make a good air-layer project.  The base of the tree is nice, but the top of the tree would make a fantastic bonsai if air-layered.  Notice the fantastic movement and taper.  The base of the air-layer spans over 4 1/2 inches at the base.  The tree is only about 14 inches tall for the entire air-layered part.  I may cut it down to the smaller shoot at the top to improve taper and movement.  The diameter of the top is over 1 1/4 inch across.  If you click onto the individual photo's, you will get a close up view of each picture.  I started this project by cutting off as much of the growth that I could.  Then I took a 1/2 inch band of bark away just above the area that I want rooted.  Then I placed an 8 inch bulb pan around the tree.  I forgot to take a picture of the finished air-layer.  The last step was filling the bulb pan with green moss and finally watering the tree.  I will check the progress in a few months and if I remember, I will update you on the progress of this air-layer in a future blog.  I can't wait to see the final result.  When this thing is removed and fully leafed out, it will look amazing!  Tell me what you think!

Japanese black pine air-layers explained!

remove shoots from previous year

cut top/this years growth

remove needles on left side/six inches below top

remove needles on right side/six inches below top

cut ring just below last needle removed

cut ring 5/8 inch below first ring

cut from bottom ring to top ring/start to remove bark

remove bark completely around tree

bark removed

cut 6 vertical cuts evenly spaced around tree/approx 1/2 inch in length

take 4 inch cup and open

cup placed around tree

fill cup with damp green moss

after layer is finished/water well
This morning we had a steady rain.  After the rain let up, I went outside to continue working on air-layers of Japanese black pines.  I started working on them yesterday.  Normally, I start earlier in the year.  However, we had a cold winter and the plants are about a month behind.  I start by cutting the top candle off and cutting the shoots off the previous years growth.  Then I remove the needle about six inches below the cut.  I then take a ring of bark approximately 5/8 inch in diameter away just below the last needles where I removed the needles.  I then make about six vertical cuts spaced evenly around the tree just above the ring of bark that I removed. The slits are important.  As the air-layer starts to callous, the slits start to callous and makes the area flare out nicely.  I take a four inch nursery pot that has been cut along the side and spread it open to accomodate the air-layer.  I make a small hole at the base of the pot so that I can close the pot around the trunk of the air-layer.  I close the cup and I tie it together with two pieces of bonsai wire that I poked through on either side of the cup opening.  After I have the cup closed, I fill the cup with green moss.  I water thoroughly and that is all there is to do until removal of the air-layer in fall.  I have included step by step photo's to show the steps that I took.  In about 6-8 months, the air-layers will be fully rooted and ready to remove. (Of course time to remove may vary according to weather conditions in your area.).  If you have any questions you can make a comment on this blog or email me at

Tour and sales.

Friday I gave a tour to a local resort retirement community.  It shows the differences in the micro climates that exist here.  I went to the retirement community to have people follow me to the nursery.  The distance is about 3 miles.  When I got there, I sat down on a bench in front of the Art center.  It was beautiful with a slight breeze.  When people gathered and were ready to go, I reminded them to make sure they had a hat and plenty of water because the nursery was very hot.  When we go to the nursery and got out of our cars, the nursery was notably warmer.  Strangely, the back of the nursery is warmer then the front of the house where everyone parked.  As I started to give the tour of the nursery, the breeze died down and the nursery got hotter.  It was easily 12-15 degrees warmer at the nursery.  We were pushing 90 degrees!  When we got to the private collection in the backyard, everyone started to go behind the bonsai benches in the shady area next to the house.  I tried to describe each bonsai quickly so we could get out of the heat.  After the private collection, I showed them all the bonsai's under the shade screen which are the ones that we sell.  The shade cloth cools the surrounding area down by around 8-10 degrees.  After the tour was over, people wandered around the nursery on their own and a few of them picked out plants for their landscape and a couple of people bought bonsai's.  Saturday was a very hectic day at the nursery.  I was expecting two customers that called earlier in the week.  A few others dropped in unannounced.  It was busy, warm but lots of fun.  Sunday was our bonsai club meeting and most of our club members showed up.  Another unexpected surprise.  We had an old club member that had moved away show up at our meeting.  He brought his first tree that my father had helped him with.  My father helped him with the tree over 40 years ago.  It was a beautiful foemina juniper in a formal upright style.  We also gained a new member.  She brought an unusual cypress that we managed to style into and informal upright style.  She also brought a little flowering plant that we styled into a cascade bonsai.  I did not see the small thorns until I started helping her wire her tree.  Oh well, such are the sacrifices of a bonsai artist.

Starting to heat up!

This morning started out warm.  I did the watering early so I could get to my weeding.  I weeded the entrance to the nursery and also weeded the backyard.  That is no small feat.  There were quite a few weeds and it took me most of the day.  I wanted to clean the back because I am giving a tour tomorrow.  I teach classes and do different things for this local housing development so our bonsai club can use their art room for meetings.  This month I thought I would keep it simple.  The digging period for this year is coming to a close and my last customer to dig field grown trees is coming Saturday morning.  Tomorrow is suppose to be another scorcher and the weekend is going to cool down slightly.

Back to normal

Yesterday I spent time unloading the van from this past weekend.  The sales at the California Bonsai Society convention were terrific.  I also purchased some bonsai pots.  I finally got them all priced and put away.  I worked on digging out some pines for customers who will not be able to pick them up by the digging cut off date.  I will dig them and put them in a container for the customer to be picked up later.  I also dug out 10 shohin size black pines for a customer that wants to use them at the shohin convention in 2014.  Now things are back to normal.  I started to weed some troubled areas.  We had a nice rain over the weekend, but nice rain equates to nice size weeds.  I am a little late on starting the pine air-layers.  I think I will start on a few each day so that I do not get overwhelmed by the process.  I also had an interesting discussion with a customer about air-layering a cork oak.  I had not heard of anyone trying to do this before.  The customer said that it can be done.  I might need to do some experimenting on my own.

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