self-seeded sycamore.

Since sycamores grow around here like weeds, I felt they would be a good (= continuous) source of seedlings to try and bonsai. I should point out that I have no idea how to do this. Anyway, as this one volunteered by growing in a pot to start with...

(Spring 2002, I think, and the cutting in the pot was fig.)

seedling in pot.

...I transferred it to a peat pot kept inside a plastic one. Soon I had this little tree. Cute, isn't it?

showing peat pot inside plastic pot

The advantage of the two pot system might be this. With a bit of care, the inner peat pot can be slid out. This revealed that the roots were growing through the peat/fabric asexpected. I simply cut the roots that came through. This might discourage it from getting too big.

trim roots coming through peat
after winter, a new shoot.

Winter came and worry, worry! Where should I keep my little tree? And should it look like it's wilted? Watch this space and be ready to sympathise.

Well, I got the picture and guess what? The little tree's still alive, and sprouting! Oh, er, now what?


So now I'm finding out about bonsai. Firstly, it translates to plant-in-a-pot. That might well be pot-containing-a-plant. It is the plant and pot combination presented as one entity that is the bonsai. Not necessarily a tree, either, as some shrubs (such as rhododendrons and cottoneaster) make good bonsai. What else did I get wrong? Well, the bonsai is not expecting to be kept indoors, size restricting should be done on the shoots not the roots, and broad leaved plants like sycamores are not good subjects for bonsai, especially for beginners. I did say earlier that I had no idea, didn't I?

So on with the trimming, I suppose.

June and a bit limp on top.

So now we're into June (03) and this little sycamore looks a little limp around the top. Time for a nice healthy prune then...

That's better!

limp bit pruned.
the root mass with pot removed

End of February 2004 and a repotting is called for. This is a new game, too. I prodded this pot-shaped mass of soil and root and combed the roots out a bit, doing a bit of trimming on the way - some of it deliberate. Re-homed it in a slightly bigger pot. I realised later that perhps I should have gone for a shallower pot as most bonsai have shallow pots, presumably for artistic reasons.

showing a dead powdery stem.

Early May 2004 and the sycamore is alive but not well. There are a couple of dead stems that are covered in a white powdery stuff. So I cut them off. The powder puffed and drifted off as the stem came away. The resulting shape is quite promising and compact, though.

after trimming two dead stems
comparison with a younger seedling three times bigger

This is a comparison of my sycamore bonsai with another seedling which is in just its second year (and the smaller pot in case you hadn't guessed). I am cosidering have a go at this sedling, too, just for a bit of practice.


Whilst working with this sycamore, I have have also been working on a few other trees. I now have a smallish fir-thing (sitka spruce, I think), three oaks and a couple of horse-chestnuts. These conker trees were a case of mistaken identity; I was looking for a sweet chestnut to grow full size. So I'll have a go at a bonsai conker instead! More pictures coming...