First styling of a Hinoki

Bought this mame Hinoki Cypress (Chaemycyparis Obtusa) a couple pf years ago from a friend who had it upright in a drum pot.  I left it initially and then repotted at a new angle to become a future cascade.  I’ve left it alone for the past 2 years.  Finally I’ve wired the primary branches.  Seems to be a fragile wee thing and can lose leaves/branches easily.  Primary aim is to grow an apex from the branch that I’ve twisted upward behind the trunk.


Another Sawara

I was recently given a piece of material by my father from his garden.  This Sawara Cypress has been growing in the same terracotta flowerpot for many years and has been pretty much unattended.  I first really noticed it a few years ago and since then, every time I’m round, it always catches my eye.  I didn’t even have to ask my dad for it, he gave up on it years ago really in favour of more attractive deciduous shrubs.

As with the Sawara growing in my flowerbed, I gently removed a bit of soil to try and determine nebari but didn’t have much luck.  I’ll leave that until the spring when rootpruning and repotting into a shallower growing box.  I’ve always seen this tree as promising literati material – a slender trunk with aged bark and gradual taper and a lack of branching in the bottom two thirds of the tree.  There are two branches that have continued to grow at the base of the trunk but I don’t think they are an option because the bark is very young in comparison to the rest of the tree.



I look forward to styling next year (tree health permitting) and putting some bends in the trunk and selecting final branches.  All could that could be done now was to slip it out of the terracotta pot and put into a slightly bigger bucket with a layer of grit at the bottom  and surrounding the sides in order to help insulate the tightly bound root system this winter.  I’ll update it’s progress next year.

Thinning out a Sawara Cypress


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.


Job done


Better view of the trunkline.

    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.