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Memory lane – Hollow trunk Cercis (Judas Tree)

Looking back….we can tell a tree’s story…..admire an image…..capture a moment…..remember a special event… inspired – to create a memory for tomorrow. 

I hope you enjoy this regular peep into some of John’s bonsai history.

Memory Lane – Hollow trunk Cercis (Judas Tree)
This tree was one of three Cercis trees which arrived on the nursery in 2006 as part of a larger purchase of bonsai raw material. It grew well each season as a proverbial large bush with the resulting dense winter image of unsightly crossing branches.
No surprise then that the tree was still with us in October 2008!
October 2008 001 October 2008 003 October 2008 006
We try to give customers the chance to buy the raw material but eventually the tree reaches a stage where he has to be worked…..time (and trees) wait for no man as they say.
October 2008 007
So the first job was to thin out the numerous crossing branches and make an initial selection. This proved to be quite drastic.
The heavy branch on the left could continue the trunk line and form an apex. Fortunately the centre of the heavy lower trunk was already rotting away……this just needed to be exploited further. This exploitation did get carried away a bit as you can see from the pictures. The poor tree suddenly found himself being attacked from all directions.
October 2008 008 Oct 2008 002 Oct 2008 001
Once the centre had been totally hollowed out the tree was repotted into a ceramic bonsai pot and the branch pruning was taken back even further.
October 2008 009 October 2008 010 October 2008 012 October 2008 013 October 2008 015
May 09 001
Some wiring was also applied. You can see that the hollow is May 09 002totally through the entire trunk. In Spring 2009 the tree leafed out without any problem and showed no sign of any weakness.
The tree was allowed to grow and recover. By the following Spring in 2010 work was under way in selecting and refining branches.
The unusual long internode growth pattern is strange to work with at first but worth persevering with. You can see how it is possible to improve ramification and reduce leaf size even with somewhat untraditional bonsai varieties.
April and may 2010 001 April and may 2010 002 April and may 2010 003
During 2011 the tree had a bad year with new foliage being attacked by a fungus. I lost some branches and the tree was weakened. However after some diligent spraying, feeding and all round good care the tree had a good 2012 and appeared to put the past problems behind him.
The last two pictures were taken this evening to show you the tree exactly as he is now. The hollow trunk has been opened up slightly down one side. The tree has already been pruned twice this year and as you can see is now ready for another trip to “john’s salon”. Just look at how the foliage canopy is beginning to develop…..I am really pleased with his progress.
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On a sad note………..The tree may have had many admirers at his perch on the sales bench but one was rather special. Barbara Wyles only attended our classes for some two years but with her enthusiasm and grateful appreciation she made an impression not just on me but on all her fellow students. She was a wonderful lady. Every time she came she spoke of this tree, she really liked him but she knew she just could not lift him on her own……if he could have lost some weight he would have had a really excellent new home!
Sadly, Barbara died on the 20th June 2013, she will be missed by many but her memory will live on with the Cercis because for me he will always be “Barbara’s tree”…………
1 comment
  1. roy hicks
    roy hicks
    July 16, 2013 at 6:40 am

    the tree looks amazing & I love the hollow trunk, but the sad part is the loss of Barbara who admired this lovely tree. I knew from attending the classes & I found her a mots pleasant lady who was full of enthusiasm for the hobby. sincere condolences to her family.

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