Trident Maple Fusion
Acer Buergerianum (Trident Maple) Fusion Bonsai
One week after assembling my first fusion bonsai I decided to start project 2. I ordered 150 Trident Maple seedlings and began building my frame. I actually made two frames. The first was a small prototype designed for an informal upright style. The second frame and the one I would use for this project was identical in shape but 3 times larger. I learned from the first project to intentionally give the frame much more size contrast from bottom to top. The seedlings when applied to the frame have a tendency to smooth out curves so all movement in the frame needs to be exaggerated, otherwise you lose all the character of the trunk shape.
Meanwhile I waited for the seedlings, and waited. After 2 weeks with no acknowledgment from the nurseries web site of my order I fired off an e-mail. The representative apologized and said the trees would arrive in a week. Two weeks later the trees arrived. Just one small problem, the company only sent 100 seedlings but they had charged me for 150. More e-mails, more apologizes. Finally one week later I had all 150 seedlings.
The first 100 seedlings had arrived on a Wednesday. I did not want to wait for all the seedlings to arrive before beginning assembly (who knew when they would arrive) so I prepped the seedlings, put them in a bucket of water and went to bed. Thursday I attached 30 seedlings, Friday I attached another 30 seedlings and Saturday I attached the remaining 40 seedlings. I still needed 20 more seedlings to complete the assembly so I planted the partially completed tree trunk in a large pot of sand hoping to keep the roots from drying out. The following Wednesday the 50 missing trees arrived so I completed assembly and planted the tree in its growing pot.
This is the bare frame. I tried to add a few twists to give it some character.
This was all I got finished the first day.
End of second day.
This is a close up to show how I overlapped the seedlings as I tapered the top.
This is the tree fully assembled one week after first starting.
Three months later and the tree is looking pretty healthy.
Because the assembly had taken a full week the first 100 seedlings went into shock with 2 dying completely and several dying half way up. These will need to be replaced. The last 20 seedlings applied to the frame suffered little or no shock and are very healthy. The lesson to be learned here is to grow your own seedlings, have enough seedlings to complete the project before starting and assemble the tree as quickly as possible.
Dec 1, 2011
The Trident Maple fusion had problems from the very beginning (see above). About 25% of the seedlings died off completely or partially. There is some fusion but like the Dawn Redwood growth was slowed from being in a pot. I have 30 seedlings in reserve that will be used for repairs in the spring and I will also plant this tree(s) in the ground.
Feb 26, 2012
It has been so warm this winter that Major League Baseball could have held spring training right here in Northern Virginia. Several of my trident Maple seedlings were past bud stage and beginning to open. I wanted to repair the Trident Maple fusion while the tree was still dormant, so with a 65 degree day last Thursday I got to work .
Most of the dead seedlings I picked out came from the first batch of 100 seedlings I received. Remember the internet nursery I ordered these trees from screwed up my request for 150 seedlings and sent only 100. After I complained they sent the remaining 50 seedlings a week later. That time gap could have caused the problem with die off or maybe the first batch was just poor stock. The second batch of 50 seemed to present no problems.
After bare rooting the 30 remaining seedlings I had left over from the second batch of 50 I attached them to the frame. There are still a few small gaps I could have covered if I had more seedlings but I have written off future orders from this company. In future projects I will grow my own seedling stock with confidence in the source.
Finally I planted the tree in the ground. No more pots for the growth stage, I want maximum growth to speed up fusion. I learned several lessons here that basically caused a one year delay in fusion, but that knowledge should help in future projects.
We have had a very long growing season. Spring came about 3 weeks early and winter came about 3 weeks late. The last 2 days have been in the mid 70′s and today it is upper 50′s. Maybe it’s that inconvenient truth called global warming. But I digress.
This Trident Maple fusion project is a perfect example of the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start with the good.
The apex fused last year and has begun to get very strong. Next spring I will remove the larger whip on the left to keep the apex from loosing it’s taper. I have seen several trunk fusions that let the apex grow too fat and they lost their taper and had to be trunk chopped. We are trying to avoid trunk chops. All other whips and branches will be left alone to continue to grow.
As you can see there is a good bit of fusion under way. The bumps on the seedlings are where the wire attached them to the frame. My big mistake here was focusing on tying the seedlings to the frame and not each other. We want to fuse the seedlings not the frame.
The bad. If you remember about half of the original seedlings died and I did not have enough replacement seedlings to completely cover the frame, so there are gaps that will take time to fill in.
The ugly. Clearly I am going to have to get some more seedlings to finish this project in my lifetime.
Obviously the results of this project to date are mixed, but I have learned so much that future projects will almost certainly turn out better. I hope that you can learn from my mistakes.
More updates will follow as time allows.