Bonsai Odds & Ends – Big BC And Rip Van Winkle Color Up

Sneak Peek

Fall is a great time to edit and shape your deciduous bonsai. This Roughleaf dogwood is a great example of the progress you can make on your trees at this time of year.

Big BC and Rip Van Winkle Color Up

Down here in the Deep South you never know if you’ll get fall color on your deciduous trees. It’s truly hit or miss. With Bald cypress, though, you can exercise some control by defoliating in July. My big BC is a good example of this phenomenon. This year was a defoliation year, and true to form the tree produced a nice fresh set of foliage (which is the point, of course). That will often set you up for fall color (and more reliably if you’re farther north than I am). You can see here that it paid off for me.

“Rip Van Winkle,” Fall 2020. For those of you new to the site, this tree got named a few years back when it was about the last of my trees to wake up in spring.

This is, by far, the best this tree has looked in the fall since I collected it. What’s not apparent in this photo is the development that happened in 2020, whereby the tree moved into the ramification phase of its life as a bonsai. Willow oak produces willow-shaped leaves that tend to be quite long. In the early going you wonder if they’ll ever get smaller. I can tell you that they do, and I think this photo is proof. Yes, Willow oaks ramify, but you can’t rush this part of the development. The payoff comes years down the road, but it’s well worth the wait.

This photo is from December 2017, and I’m posting it to illustrate the principle I mentioned above. See how long the leaves are? That’s to be expected. If you aren’t famliar with the growth habit of the species, you might get frustrated if you’re getting leaves this long several years into your development work. But don’t despair. Before leaf reduction comes branch development. Notice the thickness of the branches in this photo. Compare them to the thickness of the branches in the previous photo. You can see where I’ve been going with this tree ever since it came home. We all want our bonsai to be finished quickly, but there are just some things that can’t be rushed (the base is 4″ across, to give you an idea of scale).

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