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This bonsai started out as a very wild tree!
Pictured here prior to collection in October 2002, the tree was 6ft/180cm+ in height, including the long whips of growth at the very top of the tree.
The top growth of a tree will often reflect what's happening in the ground; this Hawthorn was growing in very wet, soggy soil 8-9 months of the year and therefore had a very compact rootball (for a Hawthorn). This resulted in an equally dense and ramified branch system.
Hawthorns growing in dry soils will have very deep taproots where the root system has needed to extend into the ground in source of moisture, particularly during the dry of Summer. Trees such as these will often also have tall straight trunks that are free of low branches.
The above ground part of a tree will very often be a mirror image of the below ground part.
October 2002: Immediately after collection the tree was heavily pruned to find a trunkline suitable forbonsai; any branches that were too thick or ill-positioned were removed.
It is better to remove branches on Hawthorn that are too thick for future use, at the time of collection, for a variety of reasons. The main benefit is that it causes better backbudding from the trunk itself, and these new buds lead to shoots that are great for building a new branch structure.
At this point I retained the low 'second trunk' at the base. Ultimately however, I decided against styling this tree as a twin trunk.
September 2003. Although the tree had recovered well from being collected in the wild, the new growth still looked very thin on such a tall tree.
By this time the 'second trunk' at the base had been removed and the resulting stub hollowed out to form a 'uro'.
By July 2004 the tree had started to fill out as the branch structure continued to develop. However, growth was very one sided with few shoots emerging from the left hand side of the trunk. To remedy this, a couple of shoots growing from the right hand side were (approach)grafted.
December 2004. After leaf fall, the basic structure of the tree could be seen clearly.