Saturday, 26 April 2014

Field Maple Bonsai: 6 years in development

Acer campestre, Britain's only native maple, has a special place in my heart. 

In 2008 I acquired a field grown tree from a bonsai nursery, it was very cheep for such a bulky trunk (though it remains the most I've spent on a piece of raw material), perhaps because it was thought challenging to style with lots of "faults"?

Here is the tree today, coming on nicely I think. The canopy
must get a bit bigger to balance out the trunk, and the pot is
probably not right, but I am happy that this is becoming a
nice looking tree.

Just a week ago it was only just coming into leaf; 
it is very vigorous and needs re-potting every year. 

Early in 2012, later that year I removed the large branch 
with the guy wire on the right of this image, a move I 
should have made at the start of development, but was too timid.

After the first styling in Autumn 2008, with a virtual pot 
and a proposed canopy shape. Already, I could see that I 
needed to do more carving to make those hollows more believable, 
but I wanted to allow it a years free growth to improve its vigor first.
The tree as it came to me in October 2008, lots of big cuts
and confused roots, my first big bonsai challenge


  1. what a powerful and muscular tree. Sometimes the trees with 'faults' prove to be the most impressive bonsai. Love it, and share your love for a.campestre as well.

  2. Thanks, it is probably my favorite bonsai within my modest collection... probably I will rewire it overwinter if it's mild enough. The nebari is coming on beautifully too.

  3. When you repot this field maple do you root prune quite hard? Does the tree take a hard root pruning easily?

  4. I repot every other year and remove between 1/2 and 2/3 of the root mass. Initially I concentrated on removing thicker roots selectively, but now there are only fine roots I remove most of the mass fro bellow the nebari and leave a fringe of roots around the margin.

  5. My Field Maple is far from as “faulty” looking as yours. But I’m at a loss for growth. The tree is healthy...but seems stagnant. The roots are excellent. It’s full sun. Gets water regularly. Buds and leaves open each year...but it just seems like a repeat of the previous new branching or growth. I fertilize every two weeks. Basic Miracle Grow fertilizer. I’m clueless for growth incentives....just reaching out thinking you might have some insight to share from your experience.