Its the first day of my March, 2016 trip to Japan and it was raining all day. It's not much fun to be walking around bonsai nurseries in the cold, shoes covered in mud and having to make big financial decisions on what trees to buy. There is no romance in that and not a lot of buyers satisfaction either as all you want to do is get into some dry clothes. However the day was a success and I was able to purchase some trees which I am rather excited about. 

Given the weather, I was not really up to taking photos for a blog post but at one particular nursery I was able to get the camera out and take some nice shots as the owner really has some wonderful trident maples which I know you will enjoy. In case you don't know know trident maples is another name for Chinese Maples. They were still under cover in a tunnel given that Japan is just emerging from winter. 

I have used a filter to give the photos a different colour hue which I thought echoed the wintery atmosphere. I hope you enjoy them.

Image caption. This is in fact not a Trident Maple but is actually a cork bark Japanese Maple. To get this ramification in the branches and the cork texture to be as developed as this requires good technique.

Image caption. Our first Trident. You can get an idea of the age of this tree as the bark does not begin to peel in this manner until it is about 25 years old. When the bark peels away it reveals orange underneath which will fade to the same colour as the surrounding bark.

Image caption. Close up of the branch structure on the preceding maple. In winter you cannot hide bad technique on deciduous trees. To achieve this kind of ramification you need to understand the species watering, fertilizing and growing habits perfectly. It's not magic just technique and hard work.

Image caption. What I wouldn't give for my collection to look like this!

Image caption. Some people don't like this tortoise shell like nebari. I do. It is meant to represent the forest floor or surface out of which the tree is growing. It also requires very good technique, knowing how to work with the nebari in order to achieve this effect. 

Image caption.  You might think this is another Trident Maple but you would be wrong. This is a Japanese Maple. What character the trunk has! Notice the lack of visible scarring. Japanese Maples only develop bark of this colour when they are very mature.

Image caption. What's special about this shohin Trident Maple, aside from the fact that we would all love to have one in our collection, is how the trunk has been developed in such a manner that no visible scarring remains from the trunk development, and that this was completed before any branch development had begun.

Image caption. Trident Maples make wonderful root over rock trees. This is as their roots will readily clasp onto a rock when they are placed over them and held firmly in place for a number of years. Over time roots can fuse and flatten creating a wonderful webbed appearance

Image caption. Another incredible example of a root over rock Trident Maple. Notice the main branch to the right which gives movement to the tree (to the right) and which shades the rock beneath it. 

Image caption. Another aerial view showing what branch structure is meant to look like. Deciduous trees must be developed slowly or the branches will not show this level of refinement, and instead they will be coarse and lacking in movement. 

Image caption. In this final photo of today's blog, we can once again see why Chinese or Trident Maples make such good bonsai specimen. This species possess so many desirable qualities to look for in a bonsai tree, every bonsai enthusiast should have one. 

So that's it for today. Apologies that this is not a very educational post but as bonsai is a visual art we need also to study what others have done and attempt to understand how they achieved it.

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