October 2002: This Common Hawthorn/Crataegus monogyna was found growing on grasslands near my home. Though it doesn't seem to have much potential as a bonsai in the images above, the base of the trunk had beautiful mature bark and (unlike many Hawthorn I find growing locally), some pleasing movement.
November 2002: The best time to collect Hawthorn is during February and March each year but having obtained permission to collect this tree, my agreement with the landowner meant that it was necessary to collect it during the Autumn. With hawthorn, this poor timing doesn't usually create any major problems and the tree was collected.
It is very unusual to find collected trees with a naturally good nebari (rootspread) but to my surprise, this Hawthorn had an excellent spread of lateral roots.
November 2002: Having bare-rooted the tree to remove all of the airless groundsoil, the tree was planted into a cut down plastic pot. The trunk had been chopped down to establish the future trunkline of the bonsai and all remaining branches that were too thick were removed.
Removing all but the thinnest (and therefore weakest) branches prompts strong backbudding from the trunk during the following Spring. A new branch structure can then be selected and grown from the resulting budding.
July 2004: Nearly two years later and the new branches have started to develop. Unfortunately, some Hawthorns have a tendency to have 'blank spots' where no new buds appear on the trunk. This Hawthorn refused to produce any new buds on the lower right of the trunk so that a new first branch could be grown.
As a result, a shoot growing from the base of the trunk had been threadgrafted into position just before this picture was taken.
December 2005: This close-up of the trunk shows the best feature of this tree; its plated, mature bark. Mature bark can take 30-40 years to appear on wild Hawthorn and even longer on a pot-grown specimen.
July 2006: The tree had continued to develop well but the threadgrafted first branch had lacked the vigour of the rest of the tree; it needed to be encouraged to strengthen and thicken over the coming years.
October 2008: after leaf drop the bonsai has been pruned back and lightly wired to adjust the position of this year's new shoots. The first branch has thickened over the past two years and ramification of the bonsai's branch structure in general has progressed well.