Collected Vine Maple

Those of you who follow the Bonsai Wire podcast may recall an epic adventure involving a broken tailbone while collecting a Vine Maple. This is that tree. I still can’t believe John Eads and I got it out. The root system was locked onto the lava rock like an octopus. We spent 2 1/2 hours breaking the rock, noting the diminishing daylight, and muttering spells to slow down time.

This collected specimen has a long story to tell. Many basal orifices remained where old trunks had died off, suggesting a maple of marvelous antiquity. The following photos are of collection day, November 2020, and then after one year of growth.


John Eads working with a bar to extract a Vine Maple, November 2020.



In January 2022, after a year of growth. The wingspan of this Vine Maple is 6’ 4” / 1.9m. I’m still puzzling over the front.





One trunk doesn’t work—on the right, curving up through the old trunks.


Living trunks encircle a rotted away old base, like a coral atoll or lichen fan.

If collected deciduous are mature, they may already have the dense, fine twigging we see on mature bonsai. I’ve found that with collected deciduous trees often only a year or two in a box can suffice. Longer than that and vigorous species like Vine Maple can get too coarse, losing their fine twigging.

We shall revisit this one. A planting composition is being planned for spring.

January 2022 Bulletin Board

  • Join us for the upcoming Winter Seasonal-lite for repotting skills and design considerations in one of the most creative times of the bonsai calendar. Two weekend mornings, January 22 and 23, with 6 hours total in-person instruction bookend this limited enrollment online course, including a 30-minute private with me.
  • Also, the 2022 dates are up for in-person Seasonals. We’ve run this popular skill-building intensive course for 15 years now in our open-air Portland studio, with winter sessions on February 10-12 and 24-26. Also on the calendar are May, July, and October dates.

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1 Comment

  1. Arnold says:

    Really nice naturalistic clump!! what wood treatment you gave to the woodbox?

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