Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Maple Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Josh on July 28, 2011, 01:35 PM

Title: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 28, 2011, 01:35 PM
This topic is in response to a previous post inquiring as to the merits of sangu kaku as bonsai.  Hopefully it sheds light on several of the issues raised in the previous post.  

Before I knew much about bonsai, I started this sangu kaku from nursery stock 15 years ago, as I was attracted to the pink bark and light green foliage.  I have been pleased with the tree's development.  Overall, this sangu kaku has responded well to shaping, and internode length is average, compared to other japanese maple.  The tree is 20" tall, seen here in summer color in a 16" pot.


What I have come to understand, from personal experience with this particular tree:

1. Pink bark is present on young shoots, the color fades to light yellow, light green and ultimately grey with age.  The natural habit of branches is upward growing, but branches can be easily brought to more gentle upward going to horizontal as desired.
2. Spring foliage is pink tinged, but in general light yellow/green.  Summer foliage darkens a bit, yet still light green (lighter than most other japanese maple).  I would not consider sangu kaku a red cultivar.  Growth behavior is similar to other japanese maple.
3. Fall color ranges from light pink, light orange and ends in brilliant yellow (based on weather conditions).
4. Easily air-layered.  The second trunk is a layer from the larger.  This was my first layer, and was done when I had limited personal experience.  
5. Nebari behave similar to other japanese maple, and can be encouraged to spread with a shallow pot.

These images illustrate several of the above points.






Overall, sangu kaku has been a reasonable, if not favorable choice for me to establish a nice japanese maple bonsai.  The only reservation I would have is stock, somewhat hard to find.  Most commonly found in a garden center for landscape, and many of these are grafts.  Grafts of japanese maple in general terms can complicated development of nebari and trunk base.  In retrospect, I was lucky to find this tree on it's own roots.  If grafted garden center stock is the only option, several of the upper branches could be layered for a nice grouping, and the base could be layered above the graft.

 **hot-linked images removed**
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Bonsai Study Group Admin on July 28, 2011, 01:36 PM
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Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Concorde on July 30, 2011, 03:23 PM
This maple is just gorgeous.

Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 30, 2011, 07:14 PM

Thanks for your kind words ... As always there are things to do in the way of development, improvement, etc.  Taking, reviewing and posting pictures seems to bring this out.  With this tree began my interest in bonsai, and an appreciation of japanese maples.  Fun and rewarding trees.

Best wishes, Josh
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: jacksmom on July 31, 2011, 03:55 PM
I will apologize now, if I am asking an obvious questions, but I am very new to bonsai.  How big (Trunk diameter and overall height) was the tree when you purchased it as nursery stock?  What part of the country are you in, that you could find this in a nursery store?  Finally, how many years from nursery pot to training pot to bonsai pot?  Thanks.  I think your tree is graceful and beautiful.
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 31, 2011, 04:21 PM
Those leaves in your close-up picture are gorgeous - not just for the color, but for the perfect shape, symmetry, incisions, etc.  Really nice.
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 31, 2011, 07:49 PM

All good questions ... no need to apologize.

This tree was started in Seattle.  Forgive me, at the time, I was young to bonsai.  Made no records, pics, etc ... so this is from memory, started greater than 15 years ago.  As memory serves me ...

Nursery stock trunk was 3/4", total height was 3' or more.  I cut the tree down to about 18" shortly after purchase and put in ground.  In the next 1-2 years, reading more about bonsai, I chose to layer, getting second trunk.  Year later, took out of ground and positioned both trunks in bonsai pot.  Developed in oversized bonsai pot for next ten years.  Moved to Minnesota, wintered in greenhouse.  Three years ago, I planted into a shallow pot, the one pictured, to increase root spread.  Those have been the best three years in development.  Trunk girth increasing, as well as root spread.  Root spread now at about 5-6" (depends how much moss you take off), largest trunk now about 1.5" above root spread.

Thanks for your interest,

Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Chrisl on August 01, 2011, 12:00 PM
That is a nice tree Josh! I just cut off an air layer on a JM I did this spring that is very similar style.  I'll prob. do what you did, next spring put it in the ground for a couple years at least.  This was my first air layer, and I found the whole process very interesting, from the actual technique to watching the roots form over the summer.   Felt like a kid looking inside a candy store LOL

Again, great tree.  And good luck!
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: pwk5017 on August 06, 2011, 12:31 AM
I have to agree with everyone, just an awesome tree.  When I first looked at it, I thought, "the second branch on the mother trunk is thicker than the first branch.  The other trunk has a super thick branch that looks out of place..", but then I stepped back and I just really like this tree.  Yeah, it might not have a "perfect" winter image, but it looks damn good in leaf.  Loved all the stages from spring growth, to summer growth, to fall color.  Did you airlayer or groundlayer the nursery stock?
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Chrisl on August 06, 2011, 09:55 AM
I forgot to mention, I just cut and planted an air layer from nursery stock that is going to look very similar to this bonsai.  Can't wait till next year when I can work on it ;)
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on August 07, 2011, 11:47 AM
Thank you all for your kind remarks ...

pwk5017 the mother tree is on her own (original) roots, daughter tree was air layered.

I agree with your technical criticisms, many of which I am trying to correct. I have been working on increasing size of lowest left branch, to balance the large branch above it and across it on the daughter tree.  The tree really took off with a bit of fertilizer this year, so maintaing form became an issue.  Tree has also become very ramified and dense, this summer's summer image taken with nearly every second leaf removed, partial defoliation.  Also, roots starting to climb out of pot.  May need slightly wider and deeper pot next year.  Despite the technical limitations of the tree, it still puts a smile on my face, just about any time of the year.

Best wishes, Josh
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Sorce on July 21, 2014, 06:29 AM
I didnt even notice those branch sizes....

3 year update! ¿
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: shimsuki on July 21, 2014, 04:28 PM
Nice tree! I'd love to see an update as well!
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 21, 2014, 08:27 PM
My Sangu Kaku, 3 year update. Deeper pot with mild tilt to right.  Recent summer thinning, working to increase width, girth of some of lower branches. Ultimately wish crown to be slightly broader, lower branches will be brought in.
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 21, 2014, 08:29 PM
Whoa, that picture didn't work out so well.  Will try again!
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 21, 2014, 08:33 PM
Now let's try to get tree right side up
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 21, 2014, 08:47 PM
Hmm, Australia?
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Sorce on July 21, 2014, 09:36 PM
Looks like those branches are almost sized up?

Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: BonsaiEngineer1493 on July 22, 2014, 07:39 PM
I'm impressed josh!
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 22, 2014, 10:15 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, anyone know how to flip picture?  Or at least preview before posting upside down?
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: bwaynef on July 23, 2014, 01:43 PM
How about this one:
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Josh on July 23, 2014, 10:29 PM
Ah, much more familiar.  How did you right it?  Still a bit green at the posting thing
Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: Sorce on July 24, 2014, 07:29 AM
Thanks Bwayne.

Excellent specimen!

Title: Re: Sangu Kaku
Post by: bwaynef on July 24, 2014, 10:07 AM
Ah, much more familiar.  How did you right it?  Still a bit green at the posting thing

Saved it, then flipped it a few times in my editing software (I use Gimp) and saved it again.  Then reattached.  (I'll admit that the first time I did it, the image was upside down still.)