This was a tree that was purchased by its current owner in 1980 from Harry Tomlinson as a training piece. It was originally a broom style which was somewhat neglected and in a poor condition at time of purchase. It was put back into a training pot with the intention to re-grow the crown and re-form the broom style. The growth that was present was pruned back and it received a high level of feed in addition to constant pinching and pruning to get the ramification. It’s first show was in 1997 at Capel Manor in the years following that show, around 2004/5 a pigeon collided with the tree and smashed the top out. The tree had to be put back in a training pot and the crown regrown again prior to taking it out to show. This it took a further 4 to 5 years to recover from and it was only put back in a bonsai pot in around 2011.
Here are a few photos of the tree in the early years and now in its current bonsai pot:
Acer palmatum ‘Kiyohime‘ has a dense well branched structure and is considered a shrub as opposed to a tree form. The mature form reaches around 2 metres in width and it is therefore a good form for bonsai as it retains a compact small shape and style. The leaves are small too and dark green with a bluish undertone. They are distinctly 5 lobed and with a red hue at the margins when young and the centre lobe is noticeably longer. The lobes are ovate-lanceolate and deeply divided. The sharp lobe tips tend to turn downward and the margins are toothed. They do however tend to die back a little on vigorous shoots and also is prone to frost damage and sun damage if positioned in a full sun position when the leaves are immature.
The leaf stalks are a rich green tinged with pink / red and the leaves look great in early spring as they form as the edges are tinged initially with orange-red which is lightly and delicately shaded into the lighter green leaf centre. The summer foliage is rich green, turning yellow-orange in autumn. The Kiyohime is a sturdy tree and makes a great bonsai tree and the name translates as “yellow-leaved dwarf”.
There are different forms of the Kiyohime, and one of the even smaller forms is that of the yatsubusa form which is very small in leaf size. They are early to leaf up in Spring and have no definitive central leader so naturally lend themselves the the Broom style for bonsai. They can be propagated via cuttings, layering, air layering and grafting fairly easily but do need winter protection.
- Oterdoom, H.J, de Jong, P.C, van Gelderen, D.M (1994): Maples of the World. Photographs by J.R.P van Hoey Smith. Timber Press
- Vertrees, J.D with Peter Gregory (2007): Japanese Maples. Timber Press Guide