Arborvitae literati in training


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Hello everyone...

Part 1

I purchased this tree from Lowes almost 3 years ago. It was a yellow tag Fall special. I think it cost me about $8. I first noticed it's very elegant and gracefully curved trunk. Very rare for a young arborvitae.

I decided to do an informal upright. I decided I would wait the years it would need to mature. A friend of mine saw the pic of it and before I said anything, she said, nice literati. I was like...hmmmm I was actually going for a long term informal upright. However, maybe the tree would ultimately be better suited for a literati. So, with a tilting of the pot and some wiring, it was on it's way.

Here is the 3 year progression.

Pic 1, the tree after being taken out of the can, trimmed and the pot tilted. Unfortunately, I do not have a pic of it before any work was done.

Pic 2, the tree grew very well over the next year and gained quite the amount of new foliage.

Pic 3, the following year, the tree was trimmed up to get some basic shape.

Pic 4, I believe that same season, the tree was put into it's first bonsai pot after being in a grow pot for 2 years. You can now see the direction where the tree is headed more clearly.



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Part 2

Pic 5, the tree was further shaped and wired at this point.

Pic 6 and 7, this season, I went into the apex and did some separating and wired the whole tree, however, up wiring the whole tree and breaking apart the apex, I was dissatisfied with it. Now, there were too many branches and the nice trunk lost its elegant look. So, I did some major cutting. I removed the 3 main bottom branches and left only a few on the upper portion of the tree. I do not have a pic of the tree when I was dissatisfied with it. These are the pics after the 3 main branches were removed and additional shaping was done.

Arborvitae foliage is rather messy. This tree is not nearly as full as it looks in the pics. It actually has very little foliage. The tree needs the secondary branches to develop and also the apex to mature. I am estimating about 3-4 more years before the tree actually has some workable secondary branches. For now, I am satisfied with the tree up to this point.

Comments always welcome.



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This is the only arbo that I have ever seen that has been a very nice bonsai..... good job!!!

Thank you very much Jason......The trunk on this arborvitae is extremely rare. I have never seen a graceful, natural flow on an arborvitae like this. Especially since it is close to 100% naturally made. I only did some very minor bends in the top 3rd of the tree.

In the last few years, I have checked an enormous amount of garden center arbo's.......none have had anything but straight or multiple trunks.

Thanks for the nice compliment. The tree needs to get all the Afterall, it created that trunk on its own...

Thank yopu very much Will Heath. i do appreciate it.

Hello amkhalid...That is a very nice arbo with all the dead wood.

Here are a couple of eastern white cedars from my first bonsai teacher. Suthin Sukosolvisit...


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That tree is progressing really well Rob.
I love that most of your trees have these little stories behind them. Your like the Angelina Jolie of the Bonsai world =-) Saving them from 3rd week bench sales.
Rob, as Jason and Will have said, nice job with difficult material. Comes down to finding the right tree, I gotta start making time to get to Bellingham.

Thanks Tim, Dave and Bill...

If I looked anything like Angelina Jolie. I would imagine that there would be record turnouts at the Wednesday night workshops......It would probably make the news... THIS JUST IN.......BONSAI IS NOW THE MOST PRACTICED HOBBY IN NEW ENGLAND, FILM AT would definitely need a bigger parking

Hello Bill........Yes, we have a blast on Wednesday nights.. It is very fun and light hearted, but also very informative. Exactly, the way I believe, it should be..

That's very nice Rob. A general question for the forum: If an ARBORVITAE is currently 4' high can the main trunk be cut back to say a foot or so and then retrained? Or will the cut mark just wreck the asthetics? Yes - I'm a beginner.
Hello ande5560..Well, I am no arbo expert.. However, I believe it would depend on many things. For example, the health of the tree, how much foliage was left, age, if it was root pruned etc..

I am not sure if aesthetics would be as big an issue as survival. Although, with a very healthy tree and if there is alot of foliage left, I suppose it might (key word might) be possible..Do you have any pictures of the tree you want to do this on? Also, if a chop was done. You would not be anything else to it. This includes no pruning, wiring or root pruning for 1-2 years. Also, you would probably want to seal the cut with cut paste as well.

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Here are two pics of this arborvitae. It has many quite a bit of foliage.
Hello ande.. Where did you want to chop it? Anytime you chop any tree, it is always a gamble. You have to weigh your options and have a clear plan what you want to happen after the chop..
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