This was one of my very first bonsai projects that I started a few years ago. I read in an old bonsai book that Chamaecyparis Psifera ‘Boulevard’ was a suitable species to train and so having noticed one in a small garden centre, I bought it straight away. Even after only a few years of studying bonsai, it is interesting to think back to mistakes or decisions that were made in ignorance. I don’t think I checked the nebari or thought about branches/possible styling at all – I was just eager to get my hands on something! Anyway, it was cheap and stayed in its plastic pot for a while until I plucked up the courage to bring it to one of my earliest NIBS meetings. Bonsai Eejit took me under his wing and give it a cursory pruning/wiring. The above photo shows the material at that time – he did a good job given the quality of the material!
Anyway, it struggled in that pot and so I put it into a large container that, in hindsight, was too big and probably hindered its growth until last year I decided to put it into the ground and leave it to bulk up.
The difference in about 18 months has been remarkable. Perhaps it took a long time to recover from the initial root pruning and styling when first bought, plus the fact that growing in the ground speeds up development explains the great improvement. Here it was earlier:
So I decided after work today to perform some routine maintenance. The volume of foliage is thick in places and so I thinned out branches and surplus shoots towards the apex and then removed dead/dying shoots from throughout the tree (these were mainly concentrated in the bottom branch mass). Despite gaining considerable girth, this is still a slender tree and I want to improve the taper by leaving the bottom branch unpruned. After a bit of gentle excavating of the soil I saw that the trunk extends into the ground for at least another inch before surface roots were found. This will further add to the slender image of the tree and so I am starting to think if I could dig it up in the spring and style it into a literati at some point. I think the lowest branch is too high up for any other convincing image to be made.
I purposefully didn’t remove that much – just enough to let more light and air into the centre of the tree. I’ll continue to let it bulk up for the time being and worry about styling decisions next year.