Today we created a forest planting of Trident Maples (Acer buergerianum). The primary tree had been growing in sphagnum moss with virtually no fibrous roots; essentially a large hardwood cutting. While repotting it for the first time it was amazing to see how many white fleshy roots had wrapped themselves around the base of the pot. Tridents certainly seem to like their water! Additionally there were a couple trident maples grown together for many years. The two trees were separated, and while the larger one is very nice on its own, the smaller one had roots that were similar to the large stump. A small grouping was added for additional trees, and the forest was planned and planted.
Prepping the Pot
First screens are added to the drainage holes of the tray to prevent the soil from washing out. Then wires are added to tie down the plants, keeping their roots firmly in place. A thin layer of bonsai soil is added to the bottom of the pot.
Positioning The Trees
The main tree serves as the focal point and was positioned first. We positioned the other trees to provide negative space around the trunk, and so that the branches would cross as little as possible. This was relatively easy to accomplish since the trees were sparse on lower branches, much like you would see in a real forest. Roots of the primary tree were pruned to make room for the complimentary trees. A few addional Trident Maple seedlings were added for scale.
Planting The Forest
All trees need to be anchored firmly in place with wire so that the tree roots are not disturbed and damaged while growing. We used a haydite bonsai soil mix. This should provide an excellent balance of water retention and airflow to the roots. A chopstick is used to work the particles into all of the spaces between the roots. We don’t want to leave any air pockets!
With the trees anchored firmly in place and sitting in a bed of soil, we then added moss and watered everything well. Over time the trees’ growth will start to coordinate and form a single canopy. The branches will be developed, and this should be a very nice forest!