Clive Taylor is a long time serious bonsai hobbyist who lives just south of Detroit, Michigan, in the town of Gibraltar. His home is situated on a peninsula facing Lake Erie, a beautiful setting for his bonsai collection. Although most of his bonsai are Koto Hime Japanese maples, Acer palmatum ‘Koto Hime,’ other maple species and cultivars can be seen as well as few others.
In addition to mastering maple propagation he is creative and an innovator as well. His large Japanese red maple forest has a prominent rock in the foreground. It continued to be pushed away from tree roots so Clive inserted a bolt in the back of the stone and bolted it to a tree in the back to prevent additional movement.
Professionally, Clive was an excavating contractor for over 30 years and was known as “The Pond Man” because he installed water features. Now retired, he spends his time as a serious bonsai enthusiast with his hobby started over 40 years ago. He was a “closet enthusiast” according to long time friend, Jack Wikle. Clive successfully worked quietly by himself perfecting his propagation and bonsai training techniques. He is a member of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society in Michigan and has displayed several of his trees in their shows.
Through the decades Clive has mastered the propagation and training of maple bonsai specializing in the Koto Hime Japanese maple. In the early 1980s he purchased a small rooted cutting from me and the rest is history. The plant was grown then cuttings were taken and trained for bonsai.
He has successfully experimented with thread and approach grafting techniques used to add branches, roots and trunks to improve bonsai design. Considering that branches of Koto Hime Japanese maple are quite thin and brittle this is quite an accomplishment.
Many of his trees are air layered and some have been ground layered to improve surface root display. All of his trees are extremely healthy and have produced numerous long shoots which will provide additional cuttings, air layers or branches for grafting.
Several months ago Clive sent me some photos of his best two Koto Hime Japanese maple bonsai and wanted to give them to me for their future development. On the way home from the Midwest Bonsai Show we stopped at his home to see his collection and pick up the tremendous gifts he so generously gave me. We went over the history of these two large and heavy bonsai and then envelopes came out with old photos of their development during the past 35 years.
Because of health reasons Clive is reducing his bonsai collection and has donated specimens to the Hidden Lake Garden Bonsai Collection. I was fortunate to purchase 18 additional maple bonsai. An envelope with old photos accompanied each specimen and we took a considerable amount of time explaining his past development and future development of the maple bonsai. Many of the trees will be added to my personal collection and others will be sold to bonsai hobbyists so their excellent health and care can be continued.
A large Golden Full Moon Japanese maple, Acer japonicum ‘Aureum,’ is planted in his front yard. Although seedlings do not necessarily come true to their parents, Clive was able to select several seedlings which did have the distinctive golden and wide leaves and created a forest bonsai.
Another “true” Golden Full Moon Japanese maple was grafted by Tony Mihalic, Wildwood Gardens, in Chardon, Ohio, over 40 years ago. It is planted in a large Sara Rayner container.
But most of the bonsai are Koto Hime Japanese maples. His two prized bonsai are a large forest, which has grown together and a large root over rock style bonsai. The forest bonsai are cutting from the original cutting he obtained from me in 1980. The smaller trees in the forest are younger cuttings. Perhaps the front might be slightly changed or perhaps another tree added to the right side. But, that’s a future project, as such a change must be seriously studied. The new design change might become an article in International BONSAI.
The root over rock style bonsai is another large and heavy planting. The stone is from the Ibi River in Japan. The large tree on the left is the main focal point while the younger tree on the right is still in development. It has several roots in the back of the stone which are growing all the way down into the soil. Clive constructed a hardware cloth wire cage to hold additional roots.
There are several multiple trunk bonsai which have been created by approach grafting trunks of different height and thicknesses for good design. Branches were then thread grafted into exact locations.
When Clive purchased his original Koto Hime Japanese maple cuttings from me he also purchased a Kiyo Hime Japanese maple as well. This cultivar has also multiplied and several large and small size Kiyo Hime Japanese maple bonsai have been developed. This cultivar tends to have a horizontal growth habit while Koto Home Japanese maples are strongly vertical.
Ukigumo Japanese maple
I truly appreciate the generous gift from Clive and will continue the development of many of his maple bonsai. Several of the other maples will be available for sale at the upcoming 2015 Autumn International Bonsai Open House & Sale on September 5-6, 2015 in Rochester New York. Perhaps some might travel with me to my sales area at the Artisans Cup Exhibition in Portland, Oregon, on September 25-27, 2015.