Some trees are big and powerful, some are small and subtle. Some trees are established bonsai species and then some just accidentally happen. This little tree volunteered in a pot in my yard a few years back. At first I thought it was a weed, but as it grew a little I realized that it was some sort of native willow. I planted it successively into larger bonsai pots as it grew and let it run a few times.
When it was quite young I wired it to look like a thicket, which is how I see native willows growing most often. Admittedly, now the turns look a little contrived and a bit more severe than what one might see in a streambed around here.
This species is prolific in Northern California, probably occupying nearly every sun filled creek bed and drainage. The leaves are about average size for a willow and the shoots get covered in little yellow puff-shaped flowers in the spring.
The right side, 45 degrees from the front. The tree was cut back a couple months ago and the new shoots are now large enough to be wired. If I wait longer they may get too stiff.
The front. The new shoots are far taller than I want the plant to be.
90 degrees to the right of the front. The secondary trunk moves backward while the primary trunk moves slightly forward and to the left of front.
45 degrees right of the front after wiring. Now only 6″ tall! That leaves a couple inches of room for growing more twigs.
The front after wiring. While the bends in the branches may be a bit severe, over time they will provide a good foundation for fine branching that will grow upward to round out the silhouette.
Back on the bench looking down from the top. The problem with many willow is that once you cut back, grow small shoots and wire them, they die. I’m hoping that these will harden off prior to our winter so that they can sprout out next spring with some flowers or branches.