We had an in depth conversion
on rules the last few days. The fairies are a little bored being
in the house with all this wet weather I guess. As I was sitting
and studying different bonsai books they asked, "Do you
think if you read all the best bonsai books and obey all the
rules you'll create a masterpiece? As usual they went on to share
that rules are just guidelines. Often they say, when a tree is
very mechanical and unexciting, it is because the rules have
been followed with precision. The tree is "rule-book correct"
Be a maverick with some decisions. The
best bonsai inspire us to imagine an aged tree in miniature,
rather than reminding us that what we are looking at is a created
bonsai. A tree should reflect one's artistic interpretation of
a piece of living sculptural. The also have opinion on watering,
branch pruning and placement, fertilizer OH MY.
I said "Oh, I only prune
when the tree is dormant or in the early spring when the buds
start to swell. Cutting a branch during the season when the sap
is flowing will cause the branch to 'bleed' excessively and die.
The whole tree itself may die."
After a brief chuckle they told
me I could trim branches at any time. Most of the carnage should
occur during the very early spring period but I may continue
the assault at a slower rate throughout the year. Be sure to
use sealer or cut paste on the wounds, even smaller sized cuts.
I of course said that would be a pain to seal every little cut.
They then laughed and said I already seal every cut. It seems
when I prune smaller
branches I moisten my finger with saliva, dip it in the soil,
and then rub it on the wound.
Cut paste, Kiyonal (contains
a fungicide) or Elmer's Glue should be used to seal larger cuts.
The cambium is less likely to die back and callus formation is
faster if larger wounds are sealed. Elmerís Glue (wood
glue, beige color) used on pines may seal better as it dries
faster and harmonizes with the wood. Also leave a slight stump
and come back the following year and remove completely or jin
They then reminded me that trees
in nature are not mortally wounded each time a squirrel or porcupine
bites a branch or wind removes a limb. There would be no forests
if trees were so easily damaged nor would the entire bonsai hobby
be feasible if plants responded to common injuries by dying.
We then discussed the removal of branches
on the lower 1/3rd of the trunk when styling bonsai. This statement
is generally true. Most mature trees in nature have no branches
on the lower third of their trunk. However, some of the finest
examples of bonsai art have branches lower than the celebrated
one third rule allows. An ordinary tree can sometimes be made
spectacular by keeping a very low but dramatic branch intact.
Remember too that most of our trees are not finished bonsai and,
as such, need to bet heavier and larger. If we slavishly, cut
branches off the lowest third of each tree, years later these
same trees still have skinny trunks that do not taper! If you
wish bonsai to have a tapering trunk, don't remove the lower
branches until the desired taper is achieved. Pines, especially,
do not thicken their trunks unless their lower branches are retained.
They said they wished more bonsai lecturers and writers would
stress this concept so that neophyte enthusiasts would not spoil
their trees' future development. The tree would also be easier
for them to climb.