Vine Maple Clump Revisit-

Almost exactly a year ago I posted about the creation of this Vine Maple composition.

This post reviews its creation, shares a few tweaks applied to the tree since then, and ends with an “as it looks today” final photo.


Where we started in March 2022: an old Vine Maple clump, collected and grown in a box for a couple years. Great age is suggested by the rotted core, absence of original trunks, and a rocky, almost soil-less collecting site. (I’ve been shocked at the age of some of these Vine Maples. After removing a large root on another specimen, as an afterthought I sat down and counted the rings: 180!

Out of the box, with the rootball on top of a cardboard mockup for the Corian board.

Cutting the Corian.

Extending rootball with sphagnum moss. A piece of bamboo over the sphagnum kept it from moving.

Brushing sphagnum moss with muck slurry. Looks much like a potato pancake.

Getting the angle right for the stand. Referring back to the inclination of the box, the idea was to create a stand support that held the slab at that racy angle. But we had to make the support after placement on the slab, to get the tree angle just so.


In May 2022, on the stand support. Tree did well in the months following “potting” on the support. To improve establishment no branches were removed.


A year later, May 2023. Since the tree did well in its first year, this spring a few pruning cuts were made.

One of the lowest branches cut off, as well as the highest. I felt this was important to bring the attention back to the main story, the base.

I’ve mixed feelings about this experiment. I like the tree and slab, but the “tuning fork” stand doesn’t integrate. It’s an obvious support without offering an aesthetic purpose beyond that. I’ve considered a “shadow” support—a flat piece of metal to mirror the Corian slab—to replace that and may do so in the future. But, like most experiments, this pushed me a bit further down the road a little wiser about what road I was on. This is another of the pieces inspired by precariousness, like the Shore Pine on the metal stand (first displayed at the Pacific Expo and now on display until September, 2023 at the Pacific Bonsai Museum).

For the original post with more photos of its creation, please see Cantilevered, Ancient Vine Maple on a Board

May 2023 Bulletin Board

  • For those of you following my Indiegogo campaign Buy Binoculars for Young Birding Guides in Ecuador, we’ve sent the first 3 binoculars to Yacu and they’ve arrived safely! Also, he got on the Ecuadorian news to talk about the importance of birds.

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  1. Snejinka says:

    So great to see one of your creations thriving once again ! So inspiring.
    Could you tell me (us) the composition of the “muck slurry” ? Is it regular muck ? If so, I know you use cornstarch as you mentionned in other posts, do you pre-mix it with water and then microwave it?

    Thanks !

    • crataegus says:

      There’s no sphagnum moss in the slurry, just a mix of akadama fines and cooked corn starch. Watered down so it can be brushed on. I cook the corn starch alone, then add it.

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