Hawthorn 'Informal Broom' Bonsai Progression Series




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Common Hawthorn was first discovered during the Winter months of early 2003

This Common Hawthorn was first discovered during the Winter months of early 2003. (Pictured above, still in the ground in May 2004). On closer inspection it became obvious that 4 to 5 years previously, the tree had been hit by some kind of off-road vehicle that had effectively 'chopped' the tree to a height of around 2ft. The result of this damage was that the tree had thrown out many new branches from the 'chopping' point and naturally developed a rough 'informal broom' form. Not only this but it was now growing strongly and was in good health.

In the early Spring of 2004 I made a trench around the edge of the rootball and as the soil in that area had a tendency to become dry during the Summer months, covered the soil with sphagnum moss (it can just be made out in the image above) to keep the soil moist through the Summer.

Immediately after the leaves fell at the end of 2004 I collected the treeImmediately after the leaves fell at the end of 2004 I collected the tree

November 2004: Immediately after the leaves fell at the end of 2004, I collected the tree. A combination of the trenching I had carried out in February of that year, and the major damage to the tap roots as a result of the off-road vehicle years previously, had resulted in a very compact rootball and the tree fitted into a relatively small plastic tub with ease.

In the images above, the natural informal broom shape of the tree can be seen as well as the natural deadwood areas where the main trunk had been damaged previously. My main styling objective (once the tree had recovered from collection) would be to thin out the multitude of primary branches growing from the top of the trunk without removing the tree's natural appearance or 'wildness'.

The tree responded well in its first season

October 2005: The tree responded well in its first season after collection and in the autumn, with only a few weeks before leaf fall, I was able to carry out some light styling work in preparation for the following Spring. The 'front' of the tree was selected. Superfluous branches were removed and the largest of the remaining branches were gently pulled into position with guy wires. The deadwood area was also tidied up, cleaned and a weak mixture of lime sulphur and black ink applied to begin the aging process of the wood.

As expected the tree grow very strongly throughout 2005As expected the tree grow very strongly throughout 2005

July 2005: As expected, the tree grow very strongly throughout 2005. It is seen here a few weeks after a hard pruning was carried out at midsummer. As can be seen above on the right, the back of the tree is almost as appealing as the front of the tree.

A large pot has to be commisioned from Vic Harris of Erin Pottery

November 2006: Two years after collection. The tree is pruned back again and also fully wired for the first time. A large pot has to be commissioned from Vic Harris of Erin Pottery for this tree as it is, is still nearly 2.5ft tall.

damaged rim on one side to reflect the jin and shari of the Hawthorn's deadwood

March 2007: Vic Harris of ErinBonsai.com designed a large informal round pot to reflect the character of this tree; he also incorporated a jagged, damaged rim on one side to reflect the jin and shari of the Hawthorn's deadwood.

hawthorn bonsai

Hawthorn bonsai/Crataegus monogyna: Height 28"/70cm

September 2011: 4 years later and the hawthorn as a bonsai had matured well. New vegetative growth has been kept to a minimum (by repeated pinching out and pruning, coupled with allowing the tree to become root-bound) as the branches of the tree were already well-formed. This has led to a greatly increased number of flowering spurs and for the past two years the tree has started to flower in May.

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