Judas Tree - 'Bill'
I had been curious about Bonsai tree's for a number of years, something about creating a miniature version of a large tree appealed to me. I had really only dabbled with basic gardening like planting flowers each summer, growing a climbing rose for about 3 years & for one year I had a vegetable plot with potatoes, peas and lettuce.
As a Christmas present in 2021 my wife bought me a 'Grow Bonsai' starter kit which included a few types of seeds. I immediately followed the instructions to scarify and stratify the judas seeds before planting them in small cardboard style pots. Out of the 12 seeds I planted, only one emerged.. this was in mid-March 2021, only a few days after appearing:
Bill grew incredibly quickly with new leaves appearing every week, after just a few months (July) I noticed that the trunk was hardening, it appeared like small white spots all over the green trunk and eventually just became solid. I decided it was probably a good idea to attempt shaping the trunk. I added some fine wire that came in the Bonsai kit and put a small curve in the trunk at first:
Once the bend was set, I noticed the growth slowed down for a week or so and then started again. I found the desire to bend further very infectious, and soon after I adjusted the bend further:
The wire had to be adjusted every few weeks as it would start to pinch / nip into the trunk. By September most of the trunk had hardened and I was able to remove the wire:
In August I decided to limit the height of Bill and started cutting away any growth at the top of the tree - this was probably a mistake, at the time I was unaware that this growth is what helps thicken the trunk. Additionially I removed about 50% of the leaves, selecting the largest ones - again this was probably not a great idea.
In October I decided it would be a good idea to repot Bill into a larger (deeper) pot as he was outgrowing the support stick - in retrospect this might not have been the best idea as it was getting into the colder weather and the Judas tree is deciduous. However, the repotting went well and I exposed some of the roots.
Up to this point I felt that Bill was a very resilient plant as he had showed no issues with any of my wrong steps and continued to thrive... I am still hopeful that this will be the case.
Shortly after repotting I noticed that the leaves were starting to dry out, despite the plant being well watered. I took it to a local garden centre and they told me that this was just the tree loosing it's leaves as it was winter. Shortly after this I put Bill into the garage to let winter dormancy take full effect, he started dropping leaves very quickly and after just a few weeks he was almost bare:
As winter was coming to an end, I decided that I would reshape Bill's lower trunk so that it could thicken while already in what I hope is it's final shape. As this was quite an extreme bend, I decided to delay putting him into the cold frame until the start of March, I will put him outside for daytime only until the start of April. I also took the opportunity to recover the exposed roots as I read that they will not thicken quickly when exposed this early in the plans life.