This wispy willow tree, I am sharing today because it had a trim recently. One of my three Curly Willows that I have been growing into a bonsai for a few years. They all got a trim on this day, so I'll focus on sharing one tree at a time in the next few articles I post.
Follow along as I show the results of my Summer trim.
Type: Curly Willow
Age: 7 years
Last repotting: November 9, 2018
Wired: Summer 2019
Even close-up, it is difficult to distinguish trunk from branches. It's all a bit of a writhing mess. Hence this tree's nickname: Medusa.
Mirroring life, sometimes the world around us is a churning whirlwind. A twisted spiral. Things fall out of control, one thing after another. When we watch the circle repeat itself, each cycle is slightly different than before. We wait for an opportunity to get out.
Soon we find the longer we wait, the harder it becomes to escape the labyrinth. The place where we started before we entered, is no longer there. The only way out, is through the way further in.
The simplest solution here was to remove the problematic branches first. Sometimes there were two, three, four, or five branches growing out one place. When I remove the excess, the two main branch divisions regain their nicely defined outlines.
There are a few young branches down below, new to this tree. These branches are no longer in competition with the branches that were swirling above and around earlier.
Willows can withstand a lot of beating. You can cut the willow down to a leafless stick with no roots, and it will grow back into a tree if you plant it in the mud.
Some of the low branches had secondary branches reaching sky high. The solution was to cut them back down to their first or second leaves. This better defines a low set of leaves floating as a pad of green above the main branch. All of those trimmed branches will regrow, and form smaller stems growing out from the leaf nodes.
Willow tends to force majority growth to the highest points first. When trimmed not enough, the lower branches will eventually slow down growth, grow small leaves, and fall off. Not Essential, the branch falls off according to the laws of the tree's growth pattern.
With lots of cut stems though, it should force more new stems to form all along the tree. New leaves will only form on new stems. So forcing stems to grow all over should also add more leaves climbing above both the lower and upper limbs.
A couple of the strongest new branches were allowed to remain tall. I think this will help continue to increase the development of a smooth tapered trunk shape, and also its overall health.
I want the tree to have a few branches of strong, new wood. These will become storage tanks for energy to be held through winter. Willows tend to have a lot of wood that dies back. Freezing air will shrivel and kill the cambium under the bark of the thin branches first. I do not want to force the tree to have only frail branches, because they will all fall off anyway.
Ramification is sort of a waste on Willows, as it will only last one season, and then you have to start over the next season. A better bonsai strategy when growing willows is to grow a good structure of thick, dominant branches over many years. Then let these branches bloom into pads of many smaller, trimmed, disposable branchlets every year. Without a strong branch structure, the tree will only continuously seek to elongate its branches to increase its surface area.
The cut branches of willows, often I save them. The watery sap that seeps out is more like a juice, and it can be used to help promote cuttings of other plants to grow roots. I've got a Chinese Elm cutting being nursed at the moment, hoping it will become a new tree.
Willows have also been used historically in nature ceremonies for various religions. Specifically they are a favorite for making magical wands. Willow wood is a strong energy for renewal and life-giving. The twisted shape of willow branches make them look kind of magical too.
In film, the movie Willow, the little hero defeats the dark queen with a parlor trick by making a baby disappear, and foiling her ritual. The flawed ritual destroys the witch, but her wand, made of willow, survives. It becomes a symbol of magical hope to protect the baby princess and kingdom from evil The hero returns home not with wealth and gold, but with a better prize: solid assurance that his village and family will never be in danger again.
In life too, perhaps there is a way to carve a willow out from the maelstrom that enfolds us. Ultimately, the artifact has no true power to save anyone, but we are capable of being brave by merely defying overwhelming darkness boldly. The focused power of a person succeeding against adversity is capable of leading ourselves, and others into a place of peace and prosperity. Evil always recognizes the futility of its efforts when it is ultimately overwhelmed.
The willow may be wiggly, but ultimately, its path moves forward.
Thanks you for checking out my article. I hope everyone takes care during these turbulent times. Find something productive to do, even when your cannot do things according to your preferred lifestyle.
Find me on discord and chat with other tree growers, bonsai enthusiasts, and gardeners.
What do you think of the photos is the golden fence light?
Turned out pretty good?