The Trident Maple Project and Summer Maple Work

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

The Trident Maple Project and Summer Maple Work

After a long day of De-candling and pulling needles, it was good to get back to the leafy trees.  The hours after dinner are considered my free time and I took that opportunity to revisit this Trident Maple Project!  Normally, I would have gotten to work on this tree earlier but I decided to allow some branches to extend to strengthen the tree.  After all, I did cut off a bunch of branches and repotted it a little late in the season.  If you would like to read about the cut back and repotting of this tree last April, you can visit that post by clicking here.  The early Summer evenings are cool now and it is a good time to get some work done.  I grabbed my camera and got right to it.  In this post, I am going to share how I defoliated, cut back and wired this Trident Maple.  I will also talk more in-depth about the concept of defoliation and have some pictures as to how we do it here at Aichien.  Lets have a look at the tree!

So the tree has grown quite a bit of foliage since  mid April.  The first thing I did was examine the tree and check the overall health.  Things we look for is overall growth and vigor.  Depending on the health and strength of the tree will determine is we should proceed with a specific technique.  If the tree isn’t doing very well, then we would split off from normal routine work and move into health rebuilding mode.  Overall, this tree is growing well and is healthy.

My Goals at This Time

My goals for this tree at this point is to defoliate all the leaves and cut back any branches that are either too long, too strong, or un-needed.  I also plan on wiring branches to space them apart more evenly to allow for better branch development.  A couple of extra curves here and there couldn’t hurt either.  I pulled out my nice sharp scissors and got right to work.  Here are some of the things I did.

What? Not all cuts on a tree are final???  Well… yeah…

Haha!  Anyways…

Tricky huh?  Lots to think about when cutting.

To quote Mr. Tanaka: “If you want to make great Bonsai, you always have to be thinking.”  I guess Aichien is a no zombie zone as well.

Callus on Trident Maples can be fairly thick and looking at the callus now, I wish I had made the original cut deeper.  I may have lucked out though because older Trident Maples tend to have a more muscular feeling on the trunk and bulges here and there are normal.  Perhaps this callus can be used as a feature as opposed to a fault.  I guess only time will tell.


I’m not going to get too deep into how I wired this tree, but here are some basic things to know about wiring deciduous trees.

Aluminum wire

Normally deciduous and broad leaf evergreens are wired with aluminum wire.  Reason being is that the wire is soft and the thickness of the wire helps in distributing the pressure of the wire along the surface of the branch.  Deciduous and board leaf evergreens tend to have thin bark so excessive pressure will damage the branch.  Also, since Aluminum wire is soft, the wire size used to bend a branch typically needs to be a 1 to 1 ratio.  If the branch thickness is 2mm, then the wire will needs to be about 2mm as well.

Summer Heat

I re-applied sphagnum moss on the soil surface and put the tree back in its spot. There is no need to protect the tree at this point because the Summer hasn’t gotten very hot just yet.  If I worked on this tree at the peak of Summer, then I would keep it under shade cloth till the temperature started to fall.  Normally, Trident maples can handle a lot of sun and heat.  We have Trident Maples in Bonsai pots that sit out in the full Summer sun with no problems at all.  The temps in Nagoya during August (hottest month) can reach 104F (40C) with humidity in the 70-80 percent range.  The difference is that those out in the hard sun is still in development and tend not to have soft thin ramified branches.  All the really refined trees are under 50 percent shade cloth during the Summer.  Hopefully in the future, This tree will be good enough to put under shade cloth. ;o)  The work for this tree is now finished.  I’ll revisit this tree again the next time I work on it.

Bonsai Techniques

When studying Bonsai, the most important lesson to learn is when and when not to use a particular technique.  Many times, people will talk about different types of bonsai techniques but forget to mention when it’s actually appropriate to use them.  This causes a lot of confusion and undesirable effects to ones trees and often leaves people feeling disappointed.