Alternative Training Technique to wiring

johng

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This tree is a large bald cypress...nearly 5' This tree just recently came back into my collection. All of the branches were growing upward and from my perspective needed to be pulled down. I began by using guy wires and certainly could have finished with that method but I decided to try something a little different. This technique will not work to shape a branch but it seems to work well if you would like to change the inclination. I used plastic wire ties and chopsticks.

A close-up...


pardon the flares in the pic...


John
 

irene_b

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why not just break and superglue?
 

buddhamonk

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Nice technique...

you also have some really nice trees in the background...do you mind showing that shimpaku?

Manny
 

onlyrey

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That is one nice BC man. Congrats. I have a few BC's (not as nice as this one of course) which I cut all branches on during the fall, and all the new branches are pointing up. I am not sure I'll be able to bend them down... I guess my Bald Cypress want to be trained in Ginko style. Nice tree anyways!
 

buddhamonk

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wow I actually recognize that shimpaku in the background - it's the one from the KOB styling contest isn't it...
 

irene_b

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Would you care to expound on that one Irene???
John
John we break the branch downward, not breaking it all the way off (but enough to get the downward movement), add a little superglue to keep it in place, with the branch pointing downward. The superglue does not hurt the tree not interfear with growth nor healing over. Gives it a more natural looking branch as well.
 
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johng

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wow I actually recognize that shimpaku in the background - it's the one from the KOB styling contest isn't it...
I am impressed:) You are correct that is the tree from the contest in 2007...I have just let it rest this year so I really don't have any new photos of it, but here is one from the contest.
 

johng

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John we break the branch downward, not breaking it all the way off (but enough to get the downward movement), add a little superglue to keep it in place, with the branch pointing downward. The superglue does not hurt the tree not interfear with growth nor healing over. Gives it a more natural looking branch as well.

Thank you Irene...I use a similar technique on small BC branches but without the superglue. You can just bend a small branch down until it partially breaks. The branch doesn't actually break but instead kind of kinks and/or bends and stays in place. I often I will do this in several locations on the same branch. I will have to try the superglue technique!
Thanks,
John
 

johng

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That is one nice BC man. Congrats. I have a few BC's (not as nice as this one of course) which I cut all branches on during the fall, and all the new branches are pointing up. I am not sure I'll be able to bend them down... I guess my Bald Cypress want to be trained in Ginko style. Nice tree anyways!
Hello Onlyrey, Thank you. I have found BC to be extremely forgiving and flexible. I am sure with a little effort you can get those branches to grow in any direction you choose. If not, cut them off and grow some new ones:)
John
 

Rusty Harris

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Hi John,

That certainly is an interesting technique. It appears also to be very sound, doing the job it was intended to do.
I do have some questions about the technique, if I may.
1. I see one guy wire in the photo, are there other guy wires assisting the sticks and ties? Does the one wire I see assist the sticks in any way?
2. How exactly is downward force achieved? Does it rest solely on the force of the sticks and ties making a fulcrum at the point of the bend and the contact of the trunk?
3. How did you go about applying it. Did you gradually "slide" the stick toward the trunk as you tightened the ties, or was something else holding the branches in place as you applied the sticks/ties?

On another note, I hope you and yours are doing well, and hope to see you around sometime in Charlotte.


p.s. Tractor supply has a sale on anti-monkey butt powder.
 

johng

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Hey Rusty,

There is at least one guy wire on the tree...When I started working on this tree that was my plan of attack. The problem was that I wanted the branches to begin bending as close to the trunk as possible and that was not working with the guy wires. I also think that guy wires often are not effective for long term change. In my experience if you want a branch to hold its shape you actually need to do some damage to its structure during the shaping. Then, as the branch heels and begins to grow again the new shape becomes permanent. In my experience the bends that guy wires most often create do not cause enough damage to the branch. The result of this is that a guy wire must stay in place much much longer and significant growth needs to occur before the branch will hold its shape in the long term. Of course I am sure there are exceptions and varying experiences using guy wires. I also intend to experiment more with Irene's technique.

Not long before working on this tree I had been to see Arthur at the Arboretum. I noticed a couple of trees in which he had used thin pieces of wood secured with twine in a similar fashion. I have also seen similar techniques used to train garden trees in Japan.

You are exactly correct in the diagnosis of how this technique works. It requires two points that connect the chopstick to the branch and one end of the chopstick must be able to make contact with the trunk. The secret I found is to apply the wire ties loosely and in a little bit from each end of the chopstick...allowing the chopstick to slide along the branch as needed. Once the three components are in place, I pulled the branch down and slid the end of the chopstick flush against the trunk making sure both of the ties were still in position (sometimes I would further tighten the wire ties if necessary at this point) and the force of the branch holds the chopstick in place. It was very easy to adjust the angle of the branch by simply adjusting the position of the chopstick. Once I figured out the method on the first branch, it only took a few minutes to apply the technique to the remaining branches.

In a couple of instances after the primary bend had been made, I inserted another chopstick or similar implement to control the position of some of the secondary branching.

I applied this technique to this tree in early August...now 3 months later I have only had one issue. One of the chopsticks began to bend and lose its rigidity. I simply pulled that one out and replaced it using the same ties and everything has been fine since.

Given the tendency of BC's branches to not hold their shaping well, I am hoping that this will be a method that can remain on the tree for a year or more. I will try to keep you updated. I also fully expect to have to wire this tree in the future in order to place and shape secondary and tertiary branches but hopefully it will not be necessary to have to deal with the inclination of the branches.

I think the advantages of this technique is that it is very easy to apply and it can be applied without damaging or removing foliage. There is less chance for scaring when compared with wiring. It is cheap in comparison to wiring. And, hopefully it will be more effective than guy wires alone.
The primary disadvantage is that only one bend is possible on each branch. Its also ugly but that is not really a consideration for me since the tree is in training.

That maybe more of answer than you bargained for:) Anyhow, I hope you and yours have have a safe and happy holiday.
John
 

Rusty Harris

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Hey Rusty,

There is at least one guy wire on the tree...When I started working on this tree that was my plan of attack. The problem was that I wanted the branches to begin bending as close to the trunk as possible and that was not working with the guy wires. I also think that guy wires often are not effective for long term change. In my experience if you want a branch to hold its shape you actually need to do some damage to its structure during the shaping. Then, as the branch heels and begins to grow again the new shape becomes permanent. In my experience the bends that guy wires most often create do not cause enough damage to the branch. The result of this is that a guy wire must stay in place much much longer and significant growth needs to occur before the branch will hold its shape in the long term. Of course I am sure there are exceptions and varying experiences using guy wires. I also intend to experiment more with Irene's technique.

Not long before working on this tree I had been to see Arthur at the Arboretum. I noticed a couple of trees in which he had used thin pieces of wood secured with twine in a similar fashion. I have also seen similar techniques used to train garden trees in Japan.

You are exactly correct in the diagnosis of how this technique works. It requires two points that connect the chopstick to the branch and one end of the chopstick must be able to make contact with the trunk. The secret I found is to apply the wire ties loosely and in a little bit from each end of the chopstick...allowing the chopstick to slide along the branch as needed. Once the three components are in place, I pulled the branch down and slid the end of the chopstick flush against the trunk making sure both of the ties were still in position (sometimes I would further tighten the wire ties if necessary at this point) and the force of the branch holds the chopstick in place. It was very easy to adjust the angle of the branch by simply adjusting the position of the chopstick. Once I figured out the method on the first branch, it only took a few minutes to apply the technique to the remaining branches.

In a couple of instances after the primary bend had been made, I inserted another chopstick or similar implement to control the position of some of the secondary branching.

I applied this technique to this tree in early August...now 3 months later I have only had one issue. One of the chopsticks began to bend and lose its rigidity. I simply pulled that one out and replaced it using the same ties and everything has been fine since.

Given the tendency of BC's branches to not hold their shaping well, I am hoping that this will be a method that can remain on the tree for a year or more. I will try to keep you updated. I also fully expect to have to wire this tree in the future in order to place and shape secondary and tertiary branches but hopefully it will not be necessary to have to deal with the inclination of the branches.

I think the advantages of this technique is that it is very easy to apply and it can be applied without damaging or removing foliage. There is less chance for scaring when compared with wiring. It is cheap in comparison to wiring. And, hopefully it will be more effective than guy wires alone.
The primary disadvantage is that only one bend is possible on each branch. Its also ugly but that is not really a consideration for me since the tree is in training.

That maybe more of answer than you bargained for:) Anyhow, I hope you and yours have have a safe and happy holiday.
John

The answer was just fine John, not too much at all. I really appreciate a detailed, in-depth answer, especially one that comes from experience and not from someone rehashing something they read or heard about. That is something that won some respect for you from me when you did the lecture/demo for our club in Charlotte. As you answered our questions, or explained techniques, you never failed to state whether what you said was from personal experience/experimentation, or from things you had heard ,saw,or read. That distinction my not have been appreciated or noticed by everyone, but it sure went a long way with me.
 

Rusty Harris

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Ha!! Maybe the Charlotte club should stock up if they want to compete with the boys:D;)
Nothing like some friendly competition. Competition aside, the BSC has nothing but love for the south of the border guys, as depicted in this photo.:eek::D;)
 

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johng

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Nothing like some friendly competition. Competition aside, the BSC has nothing but love for the south of the border guys, as depicted in this photo.:eek::D;)
That is great!!! I am not sure where you found that picture of Ken but he is going to be mad that you posted it:)

John
 

pjkatich

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John,

Thanks for taking the time to explain this paticular training technique in such detail.

Being a connoisseur in the application of guide wires, I can see a good deal of merit to this approach for placing the initial bend on a primary brach.

I look forward to your updates.

Goodlluck,
Paul
 

johng

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Thanks Paul! I will keep you updated as I learn more.
John
 

Dav4

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Interesting technique. I'll file this one away for future use. The pics of your yard are quite nice, as well. Any chance of seeing more of it? I'll be moving to Atlanta next year, and your display area is quite appealing to me as an option for my future yard (assuming I can get a mortgage in this economic environment:mad:) Thanks,

Dave
 

johng

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Thanks Dave... Thanks for the comments about the garden...it has come a long way in 5 years but has a really long way to go:) Here is a link to my picasa web albums...should be quite a few pics of the garden as well as a ton of other stuff. Good luck with the move... Atlanta has a good bonsai scene.
John

http://picasaweb.google.com/john.geanangel
 
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