Jeff, Nice start. Ashleaf maple? I will have to look that one up. Don't know it, or how well it develops, back buds, adjusts to container growing. But good luck with the group planting.
It appears that you have 4 saplings (whips). I think you should add a 5th. Groups should be odd numbers - except when it is 10 or more. And keep a spare or 2 on hand as replacements if needed later on.
Also consider this - good forests or groups look much more realistic or convincing with trees of varied age, caliper, size. So, after a few years of these trees growing out and bulking up you should then add new small ones to finish off the composition.
I have no pictures but I'm just starting my first group also. I'm using 10 young European beech ordered from Bill Valavanis in Rochester, NY at www.internationalbonsai.com. I will plant them in the garden for the growing season, then into a training pot this Fall. Plan to repeat this for 2-3 years to grow them out.
I'm as excited as a kid !!
Thanks for the info, you have more patience than myself, letting your trees grow out first. I share your Spring enthusiasm, except I won't get to see my trees again until May.
My only experience so far with Ashleaf is with these. They are considered weeds around here, so I assume they are pretty hardy. They survived being pulled up from mulch beds, stuck in a cooler for 8 hours, and then a harsh winter in tiny pots, so I'm optimistic.
I have 2 or 3 extras on hand, I didn't include them because I wasn't sure if they would survive. These four were the only ones with healthy, colorful buds. Luckily, they are absolutely everywhere around here, so I can always find more in my woods.
I will probably end up adding one more like you said, maybe one in the back to fill the hole in the middle. I'm still kind of iffy on how I feel about the general outline of the planting. As of now I'm not really all that worried about overall composition because they are so young. Like almost all of my trees, this planting is kind of experimental. I'm getting my feet wet in a lot of different areas to keep myself busy.