Future Birch Twin Trunk

I’m very pleased with the bulking up of this birch sapling in the flower bed over the past two years.  Looking forward to root pruning in the spring but there seems to be potential for a twin trunk.

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Thinning out a Sawara Cypress

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Job done

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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.

Field Growing a Cryptomeria

I’ve been growing two Japanese (Temple?) Cedars in the flower beds for three years now.  I bought them as saplings online from a gardening website and wasn’t entirely sure of the suitability for bonsai at the time but thought it was worth a try.  The only examples of these trees as bonsai that I have seen are photographs of bonsai in Japan.  I think there’s one or two pieces of raw material belonging to NIBS members but they seem to be pretty rare in the UK (perhaps unsuitable in our climate?)

Anyway, I have since discovered that the variety that I bought are requiring quite a bit of patience! They are slow growing with coarse foliage and new wood takes a long time to lignify.

When bought, the trunks were green except for the base which was turning brown.  They were tall (approx 80cm) and slender and so my immediate thought was that they would be a long term project.  This post features the most promising of the two trees.

4 may 12

Over the past couple of years I have been letting the lower branches grow unhindered while keeping the apex short by pinching the new growth in spring and pruning in late summer.  As a result the tree is developing gradual taper throughout the trunk .

I’ve also been paying attention to the spacing of the branches and as you can see in the photo above, the branches are further apart in the lower half of the tree but closer in the upper trunk.

5 aug 13

This year I’ve just finished pruning to develop branch taper.  It’s a cluttered picture I know but you can see how the trunk has finally lignified and hopefully it’ll not be too long before the primary branches turn woody as well.Anybody any advice on how to speed up the process of turning branches woody? I’d love to hear from anybody who has similar material in the UK especially.