by Terry Erasmus March 09, 2016 6 Comments

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.





Terry Erasmus
Terry Erasmus

Author


6 Responses

Terry
Terry

March 17, 2016

Jonathan, maples look great in autumn. I love them at that time of the year, nothing embodies beauty in death quite like autumn leaves.
Thanks Dorian. Inspiration is always good. I find that when I look at good trees I am inspired to achieve more with my own. Glad you have appreciated the same in this article.
Joe, Trident maples, as the name suggests “tri” have 3 lobes on their leaves. Japanese maples have 5 but the fancy leafed varieties can have many more. This is probably the easiest way to differentiate. Less obvious is the bark texture and colour. Tridents have a slightly more textured bark and when young are a light yellow/beige colour. When old their bark peels off revealing orange beneath. Japanese maples have a lighter colour bark when old but when young it’s rather green. Of course there are exceptions to this such as the Arakawa or Cork barked varieties such as the first photo in this blog.
Thanks Wayne, I thought so too. That is why I braved the cold and the rain to get these pics. I am glad that you enjoyed them also.
Chris, you are 100% correct in your assessment. To achieve maples like these all those qualities you mentioned are required. To achieve and maintain trees in this condition is a lot of work also, aside from just having the right skill. This is why I have slowly been reducing the size of my collection, so that I may focus my efforts on fewer trees.

Chris Joyce
Chris Joyce

March 12, 2016

Beautiful trees showing years of care, patience, devotion and application. I can only dream of having one.

Wayne
Wayne

March 11, 2016

Thanks for sharing these pics of such beautiful trees! Really inspiring!

Joe
Joe

March 11, 2016

HI Terry.

What are some differentiating features between Trident and Japanese Maples. This is because I’ve got a maple, but I do not know what variety it is.

Thanks

Dorian
Dorian

March 11, 2016

Another great article Terry. Some beautiful trees there and so much inspiration for my 3 trident maples that I am currently thickening up in the soil.

Jonathan
Jonathan

March 11, 2016

My Tridents are showing first signs of autumn. Although I can’t wait for the colour explosion, I am tentative for the fall. My ramification is not near these incredible trees, which sometimes look better bare.

Thanks for sharing.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Current Tree Talk

Seasonal Work on an Upright Hackberry
Seasonal Work on an Upright Hackberry

by Terry Erasmus June 20, 2017 4 Comments

At the end of each growing season deciduous trees need to be worked on. The tasks which need to be completed include removing the dying leaves, cutting back twigs where needed, wiring and general assessment of the trees development over the past season.

Read full article →

Kusamono Appreciation
Kusamono Appreciation

by Terry Erasmus May 22, 2017 1 Comment

Kusamono is essentially a planting which may consist of anything including grasses or flowers. The material used in Kusamono plantings are often free; you can collect them growing just about anywhere if you go for a walk. You may find many of the plants suited to these plantings are even considered weeds!

Read full article →

8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama, Japan. 2017
8th World Bonsai Convention, Saitama, Japan. 2017

by Terry Erasmus April 28, 2017 1 Comment

Japan hosted the World Bonsai Friendship Federation Convention, after a period of 20 odd years. We were spoilt with 3 days of bonsai of the highest standards. A huge draw card of the convention to local and foreigners alike were the 300 some top class bonsai on display.

Read full article →