Hawthorn Bonsai Progression Series

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hawthorn bonsai

I collected this Hawthorn in March 2005. I stumbled across it growing in marshy, boggy ground near my house and instantly fell in love with the powerful trunk and wild branches. Collecting the tree was hard work, mainly due to the 2 to 3 metre long branches that grew wildly out of the top of the tree; each branch carrying hundreds of razor sharp thorns! Anyone who has tackled a tree like this will know that the hardened thorns of a Hawthorn in Winter will penetrate even the toughest work gloves!

To my relief, the wet ground that the tree had been growing in meant that the tree had a small compact rootball and was straightforward to collect. And the newly liberated Hawthorn fitted snugly into a garden planter when I got it home.

The tree is pictured above with my son on the day of collection; as can be seen it has a good size at over a metre in height.

hawthorn bonsai

November 2005. I had removed or shortened several thick branches and cleared out many dead flowering spurs during the summer. Otherwise the tree had been allowed to grow freely through the growing season and there were several new shoots of over 50cm in length. The tree was telling me it was strong enough for some preliminary styling.

My principle concern at this point was the central trunkline. The top of the trunk did not finish above the trunkbase and this gave the tree a feeling a instability towards the left. The rest of the thicker primary branches had a natural movement towards the right and I wanted the top of the trunk to imitate this movement; at present its upright appearance was jarring to the eye.

My solution to this problem was to try and bend the top third of the trunk to the right by at least 45°. However, at this height, the trunk was still over 2"/5cm thick and Hawthorn wood of this diameter and age is not pliable!

hawthorn bonsai

On the left it is possible to see the point where I decided to bend the trunk. As can be seen, there was already a large wound (resulting from a trunk chop at the time of collection in 2005) that needed to be dressed and this was my opportunity to carve out and weaken the wood enough for me to bend the trunk.

I dressed the wound with a die-grinder and then continued carving deeply into the trunk until it was just a 1cm thick in places. The trunk could then be carefully bent down by around 45°.

hawthorn bonsaihawthorn bonsai

The resulting bending of the trunk can be seen in these two images; the apex of the trunk now sits above the trunkbase and the tree looks more stable visually. The carved area has been bound with black insulating tape to protect and insulate any cracks produced by the bend.

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