Judge #1: Cute little start.
Judge #3: The submission read like and article. Well documented.
Miniature rose (Rosa chinensis minima)
22cm (8.6") / 22cm (8.6")
This plant is a cutting I obtained late last year.
It has been a bit neglected since, moss has covered most of the initial cutting and snails seems to have feasted on the leaves.
It is about time to move it to a more sunny location and also to check on the roots and start working on the ramifications.
Its not a common bonsai material, but I took the cutting hoping to turn this material into a bonsai later on.
Lets see how much I can make it progress in less than 12 months.
One Quarter Progression
With hindsight, I realize that the material that I submitted does not look all that great, but since this was taken in July which is roughly mid winter for me, I was not paying much attention to its scrawny looks. It’s natural for roses to lose their leaves around that time here. Over the next weeks it should start to push new growth in profusion so it should look better over time.
The rose was taken out of the ground, even though I took great care to take it out without damaging the roots, it turns out that the root ball was not as extensive as I would have expected. I applied a little bit of sphagnum moss to the existing root ball before repotting it into a training pot.
The plant was repotted in a “soilless-mix” that’s composed of coir, composted organics, horticultural sand, perlite and organic fertilizer. It’s not the typical bonsai soil mix, but it does the work it should do: drains well, but retains moisture, retains air and will provide nutrients for the plant. It should also help me get healthy root within a few months, the amount of foliage the tree will pull off will give me an indication of how healthy the root has become over the next months. Lots of healthy green growth would mean new healthy roots too, but no growth over the next 3 to 4 weeks would mean I will need to check on the roots once more.
Once the cleaning was done and after looking at the plant from several angles I decided to go for a kengai.
Before I proceed further here, I think I’ll go over some basic rose concepts. I am no rose expert, but roses have some specific structures that differ from the traditional bonsai tree structures that might be worth going over at this point.
A typical bonsai structure (from the bottom up) would roughly be roots, nebari, trunk, branches and leaves
A rose plant’s basic structure (from the bottom up) would consists of the roots, shank [or rootstock], bud union, canes and leaves.
I’ll go quickly over those rose structures, so please bear with me a little here.
Roots = Basic stuffs here, it will typically comprise of two types of roots:
> The “anchor roots” are thick and strong; they hold the rose bush upright while it is growing. They also store nutrients during the winter/dormant season. This is equivalent to the tap root and lateral roots in broadleaf plants.
> The “hair roots” are the feeder roots. Their main job is to absorb the nutrients in the soil as they become available.
Shank [or rootstock] = It is the relatively straight structure between the roots and bud union and is often kept below the ground, leaving only the bud union on the soil surface. Buds that sprouts from the roots or shank are usually called “suckers” and are generally removed as it tends to weaken or even kill growth above the bud union (at least from what I’ve read online).
Bud union = The swollen area at the top of the shank from which new canes (basal breaks) emerge.
Basically that’s where all the “main canes” will come from, and for me, when in the ground this is the structure that looks kind of like the nebari of the rose.
Canes = The supportive branches of a rose bush, usually grows vertically.
This structure would be the bonsai equivalent of either:
> The trunk(s), this would be the main cane(s).
> The branches, this would be a secondary canes branching from another cane. Leaves come out of the canes.
I’ll probably go into details later on in the 2nd quarter or 3rd quarter when I’m going to prune the tree.
Image below, the roots are in my hand and the shank is the straight structure above the roots.
Those are basically underground structures in normal rose gardening practices. In this case I am going to use at least part of the shank as a “trunk” structure.
Image below, on the right, part of the shank, the other part of the shank and the roots are below the ground.
In the middle, that awful bulge that would typically be referred as a reverse tapered structure is the bud union.
In a woody broadleaf material, like a maple or ligustrum or ficus, I would typically cut it off and use any bud that would appear below the cut to proceed ahead. In this case the bud union is where all my canes (trunk and branches) will come from, so I’ll have to work with it. I could cut it off, but I have no guarantee that there will be new growth on the shank later on.
On the left are a series of cane structures, main cane, as well as secondary and tertiary canes, with the main cane going all the way up and disappearing off the screen.
Okay, that’s it for my “quick” intro on roses.
Let proceed with the progression, I wired the main cane and repositioned it into a kengai shape.
I made sure to keep the wires off the bud eyes and swelling buds.
Those will be where my future leaves will appear from and possibly my future branches ( ie. my secondary canes )
I tried to keep as much as possible the buds on the outside of the curves, but I still have some buds that are found inside curves. I’ll most probably remove them over time, but for now I need them to increase my chances of making the rose get healthy.
Half Way Progression
The buds have developed nicely, but the rose is still apically dominant.
Most of the energy has gone on the upper structures. The wired section has flushed new growth but it needs more energy in order to develop further structures.
There is a new “main cane” (or main stem) that has formed from the “bud union” which I had initially left on the plant to help it accumulate energy.
I’ve left it to grow freely on the first flush, but it’s now entering a second growth flush.
The new main cane has grown further in the meantime and was starting to have flower buds.
I really wanted to see it bloom and see what color the flowers would be, but I guess now is not the time for that.
The energy that the plant would place in the blooming process would have a better use in promoting the lower structure of the kengai.
The stem was removed to redistribute the energy to other parts of the plant, and more importantly to the lower lateral buds and leaves to promote their growth.
After I pruned that stem, I had to keep a regular check on the plant to prevent any new basal break occurring on the bud union.
Remember, the bud union is basically the structure that will create new “main canes” or new stems, and the rose will naturally want to create those new main canes, it’s in its genetic makeup.
If I let the rose create and develop those new main canes, I’m going to have two major issues later on:
1. The energy will go into those canes and my kengai structure will weaken or worst die off completely.
2. The more canes that come out of the bud union, the more it will swell in the end. Right now it’s just on the border line of acceptable in my book, with some foliage I could get that section hidden from view, so it’s ok so far for me. But I definitely do not want it to swell anymore.
The same procedure was done on all the upper foliage. All new apical buds were removed to force the plant to send its energy on the lower axillary structures.
Ideally I would like to have a strong shoot coming from below to act as a sacrificial branch to thicken up the kengai’s main “trunk” structure.
This continual systematic apical pruning should force new foliage on the lower weaker areas of the kengai structure as well as encourage the formation of new lateral canes (in effect branches) that will be used to act as sacrificial branches and also to create foliage pads in the future.
At the end of the half way progression, the tree’s foliage looks much more balanced even on the lower areas.
I still need to check regularly for apical buds to remove. There is a lateral cane that is starting to develop on the middle of the kengai structure which I hope will develop further as I remove energy from the apical buds.
Three Quarter Progression
The lateral cane that was starting to develop at the end of the half way progression has elongated further since.
There are several other lateral canes that are developing in the upper region, but I am considering of including that lateral cane in my future design and converting it into a main cane. That is to convert it into a continuation of the main trunk.
I also decided on the pot where I will place the tree later on. I’ll have to adjust the future designs to complement the pot as well.
At this stage I decided to start building up the ramification. To force the rose to pull out more lateral shoots I decided to go on a partial defoliation of the areas that I want new shoots to occur.
Later the remaining petiole will fall off on its own as it dies or as the bud eye develops into a lateral cane.
Just a little info that I picked up regarding the bud eye.
The bud eye will develop into a new cane (or stem), but in case it is damaged (broken, frost, insect etc) it should has two dormant bud eyes as spares that should take over.
Since I was promoting that new lateral cane into a main cane and make it part of the trunk line, I needed new lateral shoots to occur in it.
As a result this cane was the main area defoliated.
I did make some clean up in the other areas too.
This is just the start; those lateral canes won’t be of much help in the long run.
They will grow longer and longer and the distance between each node that can potentially produce a leaf or cane will lengthen. To make a compact ramification I need the distance between each node to be short enough to give the illusion of a ramification.
But that’s a long term objective, not something that I will be able to achieve easily in less than a year.
Let’s proceed further with the design stage.
I showed above the pot that I intend to use.
The way the main trunk is positioned in the training pot does not match with the expected final pot. To get a better feel I had to incline the pot and adjust my design – reposition branches, apply new wires to position previously unimportant branches, etc.
At this stage I was a bit careless with the plant and left it to its own design for a bit too long. This resulted in the formation of several apically dominant shoots and a loss of vitality in the lower areas.
Below is the final entry.
Overall impression of the work done:
This entry gave me quite a scare since febuary.
The rose was repotted early december in a black cascade pot, shortly the last quater entry.
Back then it was in full health and green.
In febuary the region got hit by some strange climate conditions and shortly afterwards the plant fell sick.
I have been nursing it back to health and its only now that its starting to get back some strong healthy shoots.
Overall, aside from this setback, I’m satisfied at how well it responded since the start of the contest.
I’m a bit sad I was not able to enjoy a bloom, but I had to choose between giving energy to the flowers to bloom or
redirecting the energy towards the lower structures to encourage their growth.
What is planned for the future of the tree:
For now I’m planning to redistribute the energy and get the tree back in good health.
Once its back on track, I intend to encourage and nurture several sacrificial branches in the lower areas to thicken up the main trunk so that becomes more balanced.
The basic structre has already been established, but I still need to develop the primary branches further. I will look into the ramification once the basic structure has matured and the main trunk has thicken up some more and loss some of its juvenile green look.
Also now that the competition is over, I will go a bit more slowly with the development of the tree and treat myself with a few blooms later on.