In the spring of 2017 I was in the process of buying this particular Ponderosa for an upcoming workshop with Bjorn Bjorholm being held in June of 2017.
This is how I saw the tree on Andy Smith’s website in November 20016. Golden Arrow Bonsai.
Bjorn had suggested to cut off the left side of the tree and to use the one main branch to bend down and around to set the structure. He also suggested to fertilize the tree for a couple years to to get the tree nice and healthy before any more real work. If you would like to read how to handle Ponderosa Pine Bonsai please see this article. Ponderosa Pine Management
By fertilizing all growing season long, you are promoting longer needles. In this early stage of development that is important. This helps create back budding.
After loading this tree with nutrients all year long in 2017 and increasing the needle length, I knew that I was going to have back budding. But I really had no idea how much. I would find out though as spring arrived and this tree woke up from it’s winter domancy.
These images below were taken to show just the amount of growth and back budding I was getting on this tree. I was amazed.
It does not really surprise me that the whole bonsai thing works. It makes sense. The more leaves or needles a tree has, the more the energy gets dispersed into growing more new leaves or needles. This results in smaller leaves or needles.
To see it take place on this Ponderosa Pine Bonsai to this scale was something to see. I was shocked that there was this much reduction.
Below are two images. Both were taken at the end of August 2018. One shows the tree and the other shows the needle reduction. The longer needles are from 2017.
To finish off 2018 I have three photos of this tree. One each for the months of September, October, and November.
I had a repotting study group with Matt Reel this year (2019). I had decided that I wanted to get this tree repotted and rewired this year and took it along to this meeting just in case I had the opportunity to repot it. The chance came up and we repotted the tree. The pot I had was not appropriate for the tree, but it allowed Matt and I to do the angle change that was required for the future development of the tree.
This tree will be rewired this fall and will look great except for the pot. The pot that we used was an 80-year-old Keizan pot. More suitable for a Juniper but we used it because it worked for what we needed.
Bellow, you will see the roots of the tree. I was expecting coarse roots, but what we found was a lot of fine roots. We repotted it in equal parts Akadama, Lava, Pumice. In a few more years when I have the appropriate container for the tree, I will repot the tree again and I expect the roots to be more of a fine root mat. They were not bad this time around. This fall I will reset the branches and allow the tree to grow with minimal intervention from me.
The only work on the tree that has been done on the tree this year after the repot was a little cutting on some of the needles just to remove the vast amount of needle cast and one dose of Sumo Cakes® Root Elixir just to get the mycorrhizae jump started. No other fertilization has been done to the tree. I will wait until the third year needles start to fall off before I do any other work or fertilizing on this tree. (About 4-6 weeks)