Another willow oak

Jay Wilson

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Here's another willow oak I've been working on for 3 or 4 years.

The 1st pic is in late winter this year just before repot.

2nd pic shows the nebari. Yeah, I had let this get in rough shape and need to try to make some serious improvements.

Pic 3. After cutting back the curled under and circling roots I decided to try to get more roots growing in the top layer of roots so I gouged out as much area as I was comfortable with as kind of a ground layer. I've had some success doing this on a couple of other trees

Pic 4. Here it is planted in a grow box with the soil covering the roots by an inch or so.

Last pic is from today.The tree seems to be healthy and I'm pretty much letting it grow wild so as to help it to grow a (hopefully) better nebari.

I do want some advice on the styling of this tree but unfortunatly I can't seem to find any fairly decent current pictures with it naked.

I do have some early pics if anyone is interested.

Jay
 

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Tachigi

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Hey Jay,
I do love willow oak. I think in some time you might have a neat little tree. I'll throw in my two cents for what its worth and pretend it was mine. :)

The tree as it sits now is very slender and feminine. The main trunk running from the crotch to the top is pretty much a stove pipe not much taper. There is also little movement to that trunk which unfortunately tends to make that feature a bit boring. I would suggest a chop a little further down to shorten the long straight run and induce a bit of feminine movement into it. You should get some great bud break for a new apex. You have a helluva lot of branches coming of that trunk as well. Unless you have them there as sacrificials I would remove some of the lower ones to try and give some definition to at least some of the lower branches then tighten up as you ascend. While willow oak leaves do reduce, the close placement of the branches will give it a shaggy kind of look. So lower branch separation I think is paramount. Beside everyone loves peek a boos. Its part of the mystery :)

The center trunk is an out and out distraction to my eye. It just looks out of place and doesn't enhance your composition. Once again unless your growing it as a sacrificial .... lose it.

The right hand trunk is nice. Its a bit heavy on top so I would bring parts of it back and start trying to ramify it.

I am curious to what you are doing to enhance the nebari. I see that in your last picture you have it buried. Which visually shortened the base of the trunk. Which in my opinion helped the whole composition. Maybe a ground layer would be in order, which would accomplish two objectives , better nebari and a more visually pleasing trunk base.
 

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Jay Wilson

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Tom,
Thanks for taking the time for this thoughtful and informative reply. I see pretty much the same flaws in this tree as you and it gives me hope that I'm starting to develop an eye for acceptable styling.

The main trunk is mostly straight and without taper and though this has bothered me for a couple of years I've been reluctant to chop it further. I do plan on taking off the right side fork at the top but this still doesn't address the stovepipe part lower down. I will take a hard look at chopping it lower.

I have left maybe too many branches on this part in hopes of at least getting more thickening lower down to help with the lack of taper. I'm not sure that there are too many branches along here though. In 3D the branches radiate from all around the trunk and are not so cluttered looking and the one you suggest removing (on the left) actually comes out well to the front and is well separated from the branches above and below it.


The right hand trunk is nice. Its a bit heavy on top so I would bring parts of it back and start trying to ramify it.
I felt the same thing and a couple of months ago cut it off exactly where you drew your line. I'm working on the ramification now.

The center trunk is an out and out distraction to my eye. It just looks out of place and doesn't enhance your composition. Once again unless your growing it as a sacrificial .... lose it.

The right side trunk has been weak and suffered from some sort of bark borer earlier this year and I'm reluctant to remove the middle trunk until I'm sure of its surviving but I agree that, in it's present form, that the middle trunk is distracting.


I am curious to what you are doing to enhance the nebari. I see that in your last picture you have it buried. Which visually shortened the base of the trunk. Which in my opinion helped the whole composition. Maybe a ground layer would be in order, which would accomplish two objectives , better nebari and a more visually pleasing trunk base.
A ground layer is what I'm trying to do here. The white area in the third pic is where I removed as much bark and cambium as possible to encourage roots to grow in and around the top whorl of roots. I packed the area with spagnum and buried the trunk deeper to facilitate this. If it takes, I'll cut off the whole bottom layer of roots next spring at repot. Of course, this new nebari might be a little lower than you suggest, so if it still needs to go up more , I can try to do it all over again in a year or two.

Thanks again for you input on this tree. It's been a big help.

Jay
 
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Jay Wilson

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Update

A couple of years later.

It had a rough year last year and really just survived. I expect it to do better this year as it will be the second year in this pot.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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Much better - already improved. When I looked at the first photo of the nerbari, I thought that you might consider splitting some of those thicker roots. Sometimes splitting roots can not only spread them, but can cause smaller roots to pop out from the wounds.
 
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lovely oak.
@bonsainut, can you exactly tell me how you split roots and on what species you can do this?
Do you split vertical and then turn the roots so the top is exposed?
Dirk
 

Jay Wilson

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Much better - already improved. When I looked at the first photo of the nerbari, I thought that you might consider splitting some of those thicker roots. Sometimes splitting roots can not only spread them, but can cause smaller roots to pop out from the wounds.

Thanks Greg,
It is improving, but has a long, long way to go. I need to chase the twigging closer to the trunk and it's a slow process... If I cut back past the last active bud, the whole limb tends to die so I have to let it grow strong, then cut back hard to induce buds closer to the trunk. Then repeat.

The large roots are a problem. I had hoped to get some smaller roots growing in between them (see above) but that didn't happen.
Splitting the large roots is a good idea but I'm leaning towards Toms suggestion of doing a ground layer just above them.
Either way, it's going to wait until next spring... I need to let it grow rather strongly this year to give it some reserves for the work.
 

Ken Duncan

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Jay, I like your willow oak very much. I thought that willow oaks were evergreen. Did you prune all of the leaves off?
Ken
 

Rick Moquin

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Both are coming along nicely (this one and the other) and I believe as you suspect that this one should take off this year. Any news on the ground layer you performed?
 

Jay Wilson

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Hey Ken,
Around here, Willow oaks lose about half or more of their old leaves throughout the winter with the second half falling when the buds break and the new leaves start growing. So, kind of evergreen, but not in the botanical sense of the word. The old leaves get pretty rough looking before they finally fall.

I generally help my little trees along with the old leaves by removing them myself so I can see the branching to work on the tree.
 

Jay Wilson

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Hello Rick,
Thanks for the encouragement:)
I'm not sure which ground layer you're asking about....

The one on this tree, which was really just a semi-ground layer, didn't do much good. I was trying to get some roots to break between the larger ones. All it did was to make the larger ones grow even bigger:mad:

Now, somewhere in my posts on oaks I did show a ground layer on another oak.
It took two years, but I finally seperated it a couple of weeks ago.
I'll bore ya'll with another post on that particular tree.
 

pjkatich

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Jay,

I have a question for you.

Can you reduce the size of the leaves?

Cheers,
Paul
 

Rick Moquin

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Now, somewhere in my posts on oaks I did show a ground layer on another oak.
It took two years, but I finally seperated it a couple of weeks ago.
I'll bore ya'll with another post on that particular tree.
... that's the one I believe I am talking about.
 

pjkatich

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Paul,
The leaves do reduce...I've not really tried to reduce them yet so I can't say how much.
Ask me again next year :)
Jay,

Thanks, I would be very interested in that information. I am always the look out for local trees with bonsai potential.

Keep up the good work.

Regards,
Paul
 

Giga

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I saw one of these the other day and i almost picked it up I might have to
 

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