Bonsai dis-encouragement 😢

Spoiler alert: this is gonna be a bit of a novel lol.

I bought some new trees this weekend from my favorite nursery of ill-repute. I grabbed a little leafed bottle brush, what I was told was an Ein Shemer apple (I’m sure it’s not that nor is it an apple tree. Looks like an Amur maple), and a Taxus I had passed up last year. Well, I’ve yet to see another taxus in my area, so I made my way back and luckily it was still there.

Worked the bottle brush. It’ll be a cool little shohin. Also worked the taxus…and it broke my spirit. :weary: The little three had 6 primary branches. Two on the right-hand side right on top of each other, so one had to go. The other 4 originated from the same major cut site, so two of them had to go. I ended up with three branches. I had already reduced it like crazy, so I didn’t want to shorten the two lower branches too much. Also left the new leader largely untouched as it’ll need to develop.

Y’all, it’s so ugly. I felt worthless when I was done. Just proof that I’ve not progressed as far as I thought I have. Couple that with the recent realization that my windy climate makes relying on top dressing as an indication for water a pipe dream. :weary::weary: Idk, today was the first day that I felt discouraged about my pursuit. It’ll pass, but today was tough.

Reluctantly…here’s a pic. I’m going to need a ton of back budding on the left branch so I can compress on that side. Right side needs a major cut back to get it into proportion. Leader needs a billion years to develop. :sob: I may have to put this one into the ground. I also considered chopping it just after the first branch on the right to get rid of the straightness in the trunk.

A slight tilt helps it to go to fugly from fugly times two

I worked my pomegranate a few hours later as a “get back in the saddle” moment and that helped. The pomegranate will be dope some day…I hope. :weary: Thanks for letting me vent lol.


Taxus tend to bud back profusely after a cut, so don’t worry… you’re going to get a lot more branches down the road.

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Go easy on yourself. It takes time to build a bonsai from very juvenile material, you can’t expect to take a cheep tree and make it look stunning in its first styling. In 10 years this could be something beautiful, time to let it grow so you have something to work with!

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Thanks, that’s the dream. :weary:

Thanks Silva. I think this coupled with my watering woes really hit me hard. I’m doing this because it’s difficult. The reality check hit me pretty hard though. I’ll push on through!

I think the shape of that yew lends itself nicely to a semi-cascade. You could keep both the vertical and left branches as leaders to thicken the trunk and eventually be converted to jins (maybe keep some minor growth on the vertical branch and direct it rightward eventually), and work that long rightward branch into the dominant horizontal branch that defines the style (google semi-cascade style for images of you haven’t seen it before).

I was actually just playing around with this in MSPaint (because my PhotoChop skills are teh sucks lol). I left a small bit of foliage on the left and top branches. Difference would be that I had turned the left-side up to become the leader. I did consider a semi-cascade form too. I figured I’d eventually jin the left side of the trunk or something. Thanks for validating those thoughts.

I figured that at this point I’ve reduced this one too much to take it too much further. Perhaps next spring I can start down the semi-cascade path.

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Put this one back on the turntable today and started working towards a semi-cascade form. It feels like a totally different tree now. :slight_smile: I’m going to give it time to recover, but I hope to be able to compress on the left and top a bunch and build out the pads on the cascading branch. Looking at the pic I can see that I need to put a bit more movement into the left side.

Cool :dark_sunglasses:. Now make like bonsai Elsa and let it grow :snowman:


Looks great. I think the leftward branch will have to go eventually, but you can either plan to use it as a leader to thicken the trunk and/or position it so you can leave an attractive jin behind. IMO the current position won’t work for a jin. Maybe position vertical with minor branches extending to the right.

And time will take it from fugly to “meh”, and then to “huh” and eventually to “neat!”.

Just stick with it, enjoy the work, and learn.
Jeez, that’s sappy! :sweat_smile:

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Thought it might be useful to share a photo of my bottle brush’s state of development:

I air layered the branches in November, and chopped them off in early Feb. The air layered branches did not have enough roots, and sadly did not make it. But it’s awesome how well the base is back-budding. It’s a bit of a mess right now with clovers and strawberries competing in there, but seems to be doing really well. Was advised to wait on repot while the new growth develops for at least a year. I wonder, does it make any sense to pinch any of the shoots in that crowded area at this point? To redistribute energy to weaker buds?

I just picked up another BB, i think I might slip pot it for now. Trying to be more patient with this one.

That’s awesome to see that they’ll readily back bud!

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I would not pinch or prune at this moment in time. That looks like a very substantial trunk and its in need of foliage to feed those roots. Just water and fertilize this year. I would probably also not perform a fall cleanup and wait till early spring to remove and unnecessary branches and hold off on a repot for possibly another year. Good luck.

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I got the same recommendations from the Aussie bloke himself!

On the right track I guess. A good weeding is about all i can do for it now!

My brief time here at Mirai has really been hammering home the ‘balance of h20 and 02’ and the energetic state of trees at different times. Just when I was starting to figure out the schedule, I’m throwing it out and giving them the time they need to get into the proper condition for next steps.

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