You can not find bonsai Japanese Maples with a large trunk base unless they have been trunk chopped. Trunk chops leave such a large wound that they can take several years to heal, and even then they are lopsided, leaving the artist no option but to hide the ugly wound in back. I like to be able to look at a bonsai tree from all sides.
Enter my next project, Japanese Maple ‘Seiryu’. Because Japanese Maples growth is so slow I am going to take a new approach and plant the seeds around a frame in a grow tray and attach the seedlings as they grow up the frame. This should actually save me considerable assembly time by eliminating the need to bare root the seedlings. If you have seen my previous articles on Dawn Redwood and Trident Maple fusions you will understand how much time this step takes. This should also reduce the shock to the seedlings caused by the bare rooting and hopefully reduce seedling die off.
I like to collect my own seeds. These seeds are Japanese Maple ‘Seiryu’ fresh right off the tree. When you purchase seed from a nursery you do not know how long the seed has been stored. The viability of the seed diminishes each additional year in storage, so freshness is very important. The best time for collection is autumn as the leaves are turning color.
This is a mature Japanese Maple seed, the wings are brown but the seeds still have strong color. There are two seeds here called “samaras”. They are separated and ready for stratification. Stratification is a moist chilling process where the seeds are usually kept in a refrigerator near freezing until they are ready to be planted in spring. I am going to rely on natural stratification. Here in Northern Virginia, USA our winter temperatures get near or below freezing for several months.
Here is a frame that I have had on my shelf for a year now. It was a prototype for the Trident fusion frame and 1/3 the size. I am using a grow tray instead of a pot this time. After 1 or 2 growing seasons I will plant it in the ground to help speed up the fusion process. I do not expect fusion to occur as quickly as my other projects.
Do you think I went a little over kill here with the seeds. Of course I did and for a reason. Japanese Maple seed do not always germinate the first year, it might take 2 to 5 years to germinate all of the seed. I will attach the seedlings that germinate next to the frame as they grow. The remaining seedlings will be held in reserve for repairs if necessary.
All finished. Not much to look at right now but hopefully next spring there will be enough seedlings to cover the frame.