Alpine Fir - Another Beat Up Old Thing

grouper52

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I got this old collected Alpine fir from a garden nursery in 2006. I had noitced it there in 2004 in a pot, it didn't sell, tehy put it in the ground and I then got it cheaper.

First photo. I thought I would air layer it just below that crook in trunk at the halfway point in the first photo. That didn't work. :(

Second photo. I then just worked with the base, believing there was still a tree in there somewhere, and noticed that all the sapwood had rotted almost all the way up! :eek: Well, what the heck. More grist for the mill. :)

Third photo. Today I found a bunch more sap wood near the top turning to beautiful honeycomb under the tutelage of a bunch of termites. As I dug it out, I went down the sap wood further with a root hook, and found all the base that was not alive had rotted completely, leaving only an almost complete ring of still living tissue. The foliage was going like gangbusters still, despite that and the fact that this is another fir that will likely succumb soon to the terminal bud blight, so I did some further pruning to define the future direction a bit better. These trees respond with copious back budding, so it should be even tighter next year.

Meanwhile, I plan to use a die grinder to uro the heart wood further, and dig the old rotten wood out a bit more - then lime sulfur and perhaps follow that with epoxy resin wood hardener. Next spring it will go in a more proper pot and the base will be refined a bit better. A fun tree. Enjoy.:)
 

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Dav4

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This tree reminds me of some of Walter Pall's yamadori spruce, loaded with deadwood and gnarly trunks. This will be a great tree to follow as the canopy and trunk "evolve". Thanks for posting.

Dave
 

grouper52

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An update, in new pot, a bit more work, two views.
 

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grouper52

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Because of the overwhelming response this tree has evoked - or should I say, flying in the face of the deafening silence this tree has provoked - I'm posting another update after some more rough carving on the deadwood, after lime sulfur, and after a bit more branch placement.

Beyond small bit die grinder or Dremmel work on the central deadwood, the main work this next season will be to decide on removing some or all of the upper right foliage (depending on what doesn't survive my recent work, if any), and bringing the contours of the upper trunk then in further along the right side, thinning it below that whorl up there, and giving a more graceful sweep to the trunk line.
 

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chrisbotero

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I think this tree is awesome! i have one similar that I collected from the middle of an old dirt road. It was run over by a truck and the upper portion was broken off exposing wood that now looks similar to this one.

Good work on this!
 

grouper52

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Thanks, Chris. They're great trees to work with, IMO.

Is yours posted here somewhere? I'd love to see what you're doing with it.

Will
 

chrisbotero

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Its not on here. I collected it last summer so its sitting in a grow box recovering right now. It will probably be next spring before I do much with him although he is putting out buds like crazy this spring. I will try get a quick picture tomorrow and show you.
 

HotAction

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here you go, just a little bit of action for ya.
 

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HotAction

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I think I like this one a bit better. cool tree.

Dave
 

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grouper52

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Dave, I think you are getting just a bit TOO radical with my tree! :D

Just kidding, of course - great ideas, and very do-able. Old conifers die from the top down, and now you've brought this guy along another hundred years. :)

Will
 

Bonsai Nut

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What I am struggling with when I look at this tree is a lack of an apex. Both foliage and deadwood terminate at the same place. I don't have a clear vision for where you are going with the design. Either the foliage needs to terminate far below the deadwood, or far above. (In my opinion)
 

mcpesq817

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What I am struggling with when I look at this tree is a lack of an apex. Both foliage and deadwood terminate at the same place. I don't have a clear vision for where you are going with the design. Either the foliage needs to terminate far below the deadwood, or far above. (In my opinion)

This was my initial thought as well. The design is nice, but I think if you had a taller top that was jinned, the imagine would look a little better. Since you can't replace the trunk that was chopped off, maybe you could remove the set of upper branches, then thin the top half of the trunk to add a little taper to the tree?

Otherwise, very nice tree.
 
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grouper52

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The US Forest Service definition of an old growth tree has three characteristics, one of which is a lack of taper, and this is certainly evident on old growth trees if there are any to look at around where you live. Taper is characteristic of juvenile trees, which this is not.

It is also not uncommon, at least around here, to see an old, hoary tree end abruptly at the site of a whorl which has been preserved somewhat by the harder wood of the knots running through it, as on this one.

There is indeed too much foliage at the top, though some would be expected on such a tree, and my discussion above talks of my plans to thin some of that out, and to rework and refine the top deadwood some. So at least on that we are probably on the same page in that regard. :)
 

mcpesq817

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There is indeed too much foliage at the top, though some would be expected on such a tree, and my discussion above talks of my plans to thin some of that out, and to rework and refine the top deadwood some. So at least on that we are probably on the same page in that regard. :)

Yep, we are :D
 

october

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Hello grouper52 ....Actually, I think that time might answer your questions about this tree...I think after it grows out some more, there maybe be some new options presented. However, imo, I am not sure you will get the growth you like or much growth in general in the pot it is in...I believe if this tree was planted in a larger container or a planting bed with some good protection, I think you would have explosive growth.

Rob
 

grouper52

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Hey, Rob. What you say is true.

But I'm not sure why you are saying it - I'm not looking to grow a bunch more foliage, I'm looking to thin it out further. :)

An old tree struggling at the end of its days usually has fairly sparse foliage. Why would I want the sort of robust, lush junvenile growth I would get by sticking it back in the ground or a grow pot? That would be incongruent with the sort of tree I am obviously attempting to depict.

Perhaps you are thinking that I am interested in the sort of stylized bonsai that Americans often attempt in imitation of the Japanese - creations which, even when they have trunks that suggest a tree of great age, then have a juvenile image jarringly superimposed on them in the form of a dense, lush, conical or helmet-shaped mass of highly stylized foliage. Nothing could be further from my mind: first attracted to the Chinese, and later to the naturalistic or "American Freestyle" approach to bonsai, that whole Japanese aesthetic just seems boring and hideous to me. I won't be taking this tree in that direction, believe me.
 

donkey

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I like the way this tree is going. It's inspirational i'm hoping to make my first attempt at using dead wood this year and its good to find likeable examples especially where looks and taste matter more than traditional styling.
 
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The follage and bark look like what is being sold around here in North Carolina as Atlas Cedar or Blue Atlas Cedar. You sure it is a Fir?
 

misfit11

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Mac,
This is most definitely NOT a true cedar. The needles are emerging from the branches in a "bottle-brush" fashion which is typical of Firs (looks like a White Fir or Red Fir etc.). True Cedars like Atlas Cedar etc have needles emerging in whirls almost like fascicles of pines. I also believe this is a collected tree from Grouper's area in the northwest. I don't think they have true cedars indigenous to that part of the country (incense cedars, Calocedrus decurrens, yes).

That's my thought anyway. I have been known to be wrong at a couple of times in my career...

Cory
 

october

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Hello grouper....lol.......We are having a misunderstanding.. I meant letting it grow out to get healthy and present new pleasing configurations......then cutting it back as sparce as you would like... Just because it has very little foliage, does not mean that the foliage can not achieve pleasing shapes.

I have seen trees with literally, 2-3 tufts of foliage on them but each tugt or piece is so well placed and structured and the tree looks magnificent. I am fully aware that you want to keep the struggling liik with this tree
 

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