Why would any one want to put so much effort into an unconventional bonsai technique?
I was reading a Spanish blog (thank you Google translator) that referred to my blog and the trunk fusion technique as complicated. Simple, no. Advanced, probably. Complicated, maybe? This technique is rather straightforward and if executed properly works well. I have seen it work first hand. The trick is to find the right balance of many variables. That is what I am trying to do with this blog, learn, adapt and share my experiences with those who are interested.
I originally thought that the greatest advantage of trunk fusions was the speed in developing a trunk, but have come to realize that speed is relative and is dependant on many factors, some of which are beyond my control. The real advantage of trunk fusion is total control of the whole growing process. From seed to a fully fused trunk you are in control of everything and this requires a lot of advance planning.
So lets get to some specific benefits:
- No trunk chops! No trunk chops! No trunk chops! If there is one thing I hate in bonsai it would have to be the trunk chop. Letting a tree grow to get a large base and then chopping off the top and growing a new apex leaves a terrible scar that will probably never heal completely and leaves a disfigured trunk forcing the artist to hide the wound. With a trunk fusion we can get the large base and the dramatic taper we want with very small wounds that can heal quickly and completely.
- Creative control. We can design our trunk to the exact size, shape and style we want. We don’t have to wait years and let the tree determine what the final outcome will be. This is a huge advantage if we know what we really want in our tree.
- Speed. Back to speed again. Since we are starting from seed or seedlings we need to shorten the time required to develop a trunk. Fusion will help speed up the process if executed properly. The remaining stages of development, branch, ramification and nebari all take the normal time to develop. But the trunk development is the lengthiest stage of development and if this time can be shortened so can the complete development of the bonsai, although no tree is ever completely finished.
Lets switch to the difficulties of trunk fusion:
- Seedling die off is the biggest drawback. Dead trees don’t fuse! We are growing 50 to 100 trees or more and they all must be kept alive. Not an easy task since they are all competing for the same resources. Some seedlings will dominate because they are genetically stronger and this can stunt their neighbor’s growth.
- Genetic variation in seedlings can lead to inconsistent characteristics. Seeds are not clones but they usually have characteristics similar to the parent. It is important to avoid using any seedlings that appear to be different. If you collect the seed yourself this problem is significantly reduced. Purchasing seed or seedlings can be problematic.
My desire is to continue to improve this technique so anyone can have success by following my step-by-step guide. If you try a fusion project let me know how it turns out. Don’t be embarrassed by setbacks, I have made more mistakes than anyone reading this blog.