Hemlock Summer Trim-
Summer is a good time to trim a Hemlock. If we leave the spring shoots on a while, they build plant energy and grow roots. For a not-yet-developed bonsai, it’s a good idea to leave shoots on until fall.
On developed bonsai, mid-summer is a good time to trim shoots. If we cut too late, small buds won’t have time to develop size and energy before winter cold.
I haven’t featured this Mountain Hemlock in a long time. It won the won “Finest Evergreen“ in the 2016 National Show. I collected it with Greg Brenden in Oregon fifteen years ago, and now every year there’s a two-day trim adventure. Which is what I wish to share today.
August 2022. Mountain Hemlock with spring shoots still unmolested. This is a big tree, 5’6” / 1.7m, taking 2-4 people to move (we use poles and straps underneath).
Both crowns are trimmed, the lower branches on left trunk yet to do. The spring shoots are 1/2”-2” long.
We have two options in shortening spring shoots. Option #1 shown here: Cut strong shoots back to smaller shoots. Option #1 thins foliage to make room for next year’s growth, and removes strong shoots.
Option #2, shoot-shortening: Trim back to buds. Hard to see the buds, but if you want length on the branch, to retain (part of the) stronger shoots, or to keep shoot density, this is your method of choice.
On this developed tree I used option #1 to thin most areas; option #2 on lower, weaker areas. In strong areas like the crowns I used a combination of both, cutting strong shoots off, then trimming back the remaining ones to inner buds.
Identify the buds carefully, as Hemlock won’t pop a bud where you cut.
After trimming. This tree is on display at the Portland Japanese Garden, should anyone be passing though. It’s in the hidden bonsai terrace up the stairs and through the main building. Ask for it! This terrace is supposed to be “discovered,” but I think giving a hint is allowed…
Here’s a post about the tree’s history, and its placement on the Corian slab base: Very Large Mountain Hemlock Clump
September 2022 Bulletin Board
- Book Signing at the Pacific Bonsai Expo! If you’ve not yet got your copy of Post-Dated (a memoir about my apprenticeship) or Bonsai Heresy (an offbeat educational guide to bonsai), visit my booth at the show. Buy a copy for a friend in desperate need of a bonsai book (we all have such deficient friends). I’ll be there both days, November 12-13, 2022 in Oakland, CA. Happy to chat bonsai, too! Bring your puzzlements, predicaments, triumphs. See some cool trees, chat bonsai, run home with books—what could be better?
- Have September 24-25th free? Join us for the Seasonal-lite series! Our fall program caps the 2022 season, covering conifer and deciduous fall techniques, a deep dive into design (including 4 traps to avoid), fine tuning your foliage pads, winter care, and much more. We’ve had folks from all over the world join us for these sessions (a few brave Australians have obliterated their early morning hours…definitely easier for our European participants.) For more info please look here, and to reserve a spot, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org