Direction on Huge Korean Maple

Now that most of the leaves are off, I’m getting a better picture of the massive Korean maple that I got from one of the old timers at our local club. It hasn’t had anything much done to it in a long time. I know it’s flawed, but it’s got some juice for me just because of who it came from.
I’m planning to do some cutbacks, but the straight section of the trunk is driving me nuts.
Don’t know that I have anything would make a good new leader, but I’m tempted to trunk chop.
What would you do?

I think the second photo shows some nice curve in that "straight"section so maybe a decent potting angle and some well thought out foliage pad placement will obviate the need to chop it?

1 Like

I see it. Do you think the design is too tall at that point? Compress the apex?

I also like the 2nd picture. I might cut it back a bit and create the apex from the branch that is growing towards the front in the 2nd picture. With a nice sloping back cut (after it adapts to a straight cut and starts to die back) you could even end up with some decent taper. You may also want to grant in some branches along the heavy trunk.

1 Like

Yeah don’t forget with maples you can usually always put branches where you want with some grafting.

1 Like

I’ve had one of these for a long time. They are a truly unique maple, particularly when the leaves emerge, as they give the tree a somewhat silvery appearance in Spring. I think this is a great one, the perfect size really. To me, the first thing to do is find the best front; from the second photo, if you rotated the tree clockwise a few more degrees, I think the forked root that’s slightly left-center would be in a better position, and you might still have some movement in the upper half of the trunk. It’s hard to evaluate though, as more photos would be necessary. Also, more wood has to be taken away from the trunk chop at the top, creating a more realistic appearance. I know you want to probably cut it back to the next fork directly below the leader, but it looks like you now have a nice size leader for the apex (maybe let it go one more year before cutting it back?) I’m of the opinion that you should consider the amount of time it will take to start another one, and leave it be. I also think that the rarity of the species in bonsai cultivation should maybe make you seek out Ryan’s opinion.

I’m leaning hard toward cleanup of the old chop and leaving as is- just applying some technique that’s been neglected. When I brought it home it looked like I had a bush in my car.
I didn’t realize how rare this is in the hobby. Not even sure how to ask Ryan’s advice. I would love to hear what he had to say about it though.
I’ve never had to clean up a trunk chop this big before- I’m thinking the attached photo would be along the lines of the cut I’d be making? Try to leave an inch or so away from established branches? More than an inch?
I’d make the cut, then paste it in and put some tape over it to try and keep it flat. Good plan?

You gotta cut away the wood till you think it looks good! It’s a little unfortunate that the trunk chop was not made at an actual fork, as it’s very noticeable in your first photo. I mean, it’s the one flaw that’s obvious to me looking at the tree, but certainly correctable. Creating a contour down to the next branch or two should work (don’t know if it helps, but as an example, I did this to a couple of stewartias… see pics); and as someone mentioned, you can even thread-graft a branch up there if you wanted, to create a new fork with the leader. You know what would be pretty cool- if you ‘loaned’ the tree to Ryan to do a design stream! I had my Korean maple in the ground the last few years to fatten up the trunk, but because I moved this year, I had to dig it up this past Spring (and was able to successfully transfer it directly into a bonsai pot.) Obviously, I cut it back some, so the foliage was sparse this year, but it now has buds all over the place for next year (thanks to a few organic feeding applications), so I’ll probably cut it back to where I want all the length of the primaries to be next year. It’s certainly not as big as yours, but the trunk is now 3.25” in diameter (also, see pic.)

Is that a Sara pot? I just made a run out to her place to snag this for mine

Gonna work that old chop in the next week or two before they all hit the greenhouse for winter.

1 Like

Nice. That’s one big boat! Yeah mine’s in a Sara. Good luck!

1 Like