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When nature decides….a Kiyohime Maple(Part one)

These two Kiyohime maples were imported from Korea as garden trees and this picture on my nursery was probably taken around summer 2005.

The tree on the right was sold so this story is about the one on the left. Sometime within two years of this first picture being taken I created a Japanese garden feature in front of the main greenhouse to form an imposing entrance ready for our next Newstead exhibition. This tree was included in the display and planted in the ground. The following spring the tree leafed out well during a prolonged mild period but then disaster struck!

We had a severe late frost which totally ravaged the top of the tree. Kiyohime are notoriously weak at the apex to start with and as a result of this damage one half of the tree was obliterated. From being a feature tree it now looked a complete mess. It is testament to how bad it looked that I have no pictures of the tree during this period. I had no option but to dig the tree up and remove the eyesore. It was truly upsetting to see such a stunning garden tree in such dire condition. I replanted it in a small section of a shrub border in my own private garden to at least give it a chance to survive. For quite a period it really was touch and go.

More branches died as the tree continued to get smaller but it was a survivor… wanted to live. Seeing the damage to the top of the tree and knowing how weak at the apex this variety is, it was clear it would be a long struggle if not impossible to regrow it to its former glory. The only option I had left was to try and make it into a bonsai!… in the spring of 2013 the tree was dug out of the ground and potted into a large ceramic bonsai pot.

November 2013 – the tree has survived the transplant into the pot but the full extent of the damage is now clearly visible.
A view from the other side of the tree.
May 2014 – Some tidying up of the dead branches.

May 2014 – At last the tree is growing stronger but now I need to let more light in and have a look at the underlying growth.
May 2014 – The canopy is very much one sided and the branches are really long.
April 2015 – The tree is leafing out. I need to keep the branches growing outwards to improve the shape…..especially to the left.
May 2015 – What a difference a month makes!
May 2015 – Thinned out again.
May 2015 – The other side after thinning out.
November 2015 – The ramification is starting to improve and I am getting more growth around the left hand side of the trunk
May 2016 – Big canopy and big leaves. I am pleased the tree continues to grow strongly.

The story continues in part two…… next task was to move it into a shallow more appropriate pot but maintain its health and vigour.