Demonstration by Kathy Shaner – Ginkgo biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’ Maidenhair Tree

On January 28, 2020, club sensei Kathy Shaner performed a demonstration for members of the Redwood Empire Bonsai Society (REBS) working on a Maidenhair tree ‘Weeping Wonder’ (Ginkgo biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’)

Nice new weeping dwarf Maidenhair tree. It does have an upright leader with side branches going horizontal or slightly weeping. Leaves vary from lime green to dark green depending on environment. Characteristics: Sun Exposure – Sun; Annual Growth – 6 – 9 inches; @ 10 years – 5 feet x 2 feet; Color – green; Growth Rate – intermediate; Hardiness Zone – Zones 4-8. When the leaves drop, they drop rapidly, forming a golden carpet around the tree. Ginkgo have no serious insect or disease problems, making it a low maintenance plant. Low maintenance; soil moisture – moist to average, well drained; growth rate – slow; deciduous – fall color.1

Kathy started working with the demonstration tree by uncovering the nebari. The tree was in a nursery container and so she used a chopstick to dig around the base of the trunk, removing top soil to expose the root structure. The nebari is the flair or surface roots radiating from the trunk. Kathy pointed out that you can not really determine the front of your bonsai without uncovering the surface roots. The front of the bonsai is determined by the appearance of the surface roots or nebari and interesting movement of the trunk.

Some of the many branches on the demonstration tree were cut and removed. When cutting roots and branches it is critical to have sharp tools. The cuts must be clean. Branch cuts must be smooth to heal quickly. This is accomplished by using a sharp knife.

The Ginkgo biloba species has a tiny hole in the center of the branches. When cutting the branch this hole is exposed and can rot out from watering and rain. Cut paste is not effective to prevent water from rotting out the cut branches. So, it is important to cut the branch on an angle and to round off any tops or leaders. See images for examples.

Kathy noted that the cuttings from the Ginkgo biloba are easy to propagate.

A number of primary branches on the demonstration tree needed to pulled downward. A guy wire was used to perform this styling feature. A rubber or plastic tubing was serrated so as not to pinch the branch. Copper #16 was inserted into the tubing on one end and wrapped around the branch to be pulled down. The other end of the wire was attached to the side of the nursery container by making a hole in the container. The guy wire technique was considered to be better than wiring the branch.

Another styling technique used on the demonstration tree was to insert tiny pieces of bamboo between two branches, thereby separating the branches so they did not grow too close to each other.

Wiring – Kathy used very little wiring of the Ginkgo biloba. She cautioned against having wiring cuts caused by wrapping wire around the branches too tightly or leaving the wire on the branches too long. Wiring should be loosely wrapped around the branches. Paper can be wrapped around the wire to help protect the branches. The holding period on wired branches depends a lot on the growth of the tree. A watchful eye must be taken to ensure the wiring does not cut into the branches.

Kathy proceeded to remove and thin out branches. This will allow sun light in to the interior of the tree. Remove branches located in the crotches. Kathy suggested not to stay in one place while thinning out the branches. Instead, move around and work in a manner to balance the work areas.

Upon completion of the demonstration, the Ginkgo biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’ was raffled off. The winner was Joanne Lumsden.

1 Internet searches on Ginkgo biloba ‘Weeping Wonder’.

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