Bald Cypress Attempt

Martin Sweeney

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All,

Here is my first attempt at a Flat Top style Bald Cypress. It has a way to go yet, on the branches especially. I am hoping for some feedback on the trunk line more than anything else. Constructive criticism on any aspect of the tree is welcome.

Regards,
Martin
 

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JasonG

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Hi Martin...


I have never attempted a flat top cypress before so all I can do is offer you a very informative link.... I like his drawings and to me that is what I picture in a flat top cypress. Hopefully this will help you!

http://www.vlbanting.com/makingtaperoncypress.htm


Here is another site that has some useful info on it as well.....

http://cajunbonsai.com/

Thanks for posting!

Jason
 

Rusty Harris

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Hey Martin,
I think you may have a pretty good start there. I am attempting a flat top cypress as well, and mine looks awfully similar to yours. The trunk line and subtle movement of the trunk work for me. I have seen some flat top styling on larger , shorter bald cypress trunks, but prefer the long narrow trunks. It ,IMHO, keeps the feel of a bunjin, and flat top cypress is a true American Bunjin style.
The hardest part for my attempt has been the top. I can see how the top of Banting's is formed, but I am having trouble with too many branches crossing. As far as I can see, if I can develop and establish a series of ever shorting upward "V's", that do not cross each other too much, I may have a chance at a decent one.
If you wouldn't mind, I could post a pic of it here in your thread.
 
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Martin Sweeney

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Jason,

Thanks for the links and taking the time to reply.

Rusty,

I would only mind if you didn't post your pic!

I will be wiring this tree in a couple of months and will update then.

Thanks again!
Martin
 

Rusty Harris

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Here is an air layered bald cypress I took 3 or 4 years ago years ago. I styled it last year, and put it in a shallow pot. This is how it looks as of today, April 18. I will try to restyle, and wire out the top tomorrow. I need to "spread " the top out somewhat. I will try to keep you posted. The 1st picture is directly after the layer chop.
 

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Martin Sweeney

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Rusty,

Thanks for posting. I like where you are going with this one and look forward to seeing updates of it in the future.

It is also interesting to me that you airlayered it. I have heard that they are difficult to airlayer, although the one attempt I made rooted fairly easily. Other than yours and the one I made a few years back (different tree I no longer have) I have only seen or heard of 1 other airlayer and it was done in the UK I believe. Maybe folks aren't trying or maybe they aren't sharing their experiences. I have been told by respected (by me at least) Bald Cypress bonsai growers from the area that they were difficult to airlayer. Of course they had a spot to collect Bald Cypress, so maybe they meant difficult compared to collecting.

Did you have issues with your airlayering?

Have others had successes or failures airlayering Bald Cypress?

Regards,
Martin
 

Rusty Harris

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Martin,
I didn't get around to wiring out that b c, but will soon, and will keep you posted.
I will be happy to share my bald cypress propagation experiences with you. 3 or 4 years ago, I took 24 cuttings, from 2 bald cypress I picked up at a nursery. I also put an air layer on each tree. Just your standard slit skirt, hormone dusted string underneath. I split 2 containers( hot and sour soup, small ,to go, you know the ones) and fashioned them around the cut, with 50/50% moss, and heavy potting soil. As for the cuttings, I took three types. Semi hardwood, hardwood, and pencil to pinkie sized heel cuttings. I wanted to see which worked better for me, yet all 24 took, and still are alive today. As for the air layers, one took, one didn't. The one that took, pictured above, burst the container with roots in one season. The other one formed knots, or "balls" at the cut, and never produced roots. The set up on the one that failed seemed less secure, and slipped down somewhat, and I beleive that led to the failure. I have not tried propagating baldies since. Below is a pic of the resulting roots of the air layer.
 

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Martin Sweeney

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Bald Cypress Attempt update

All,

Here is my Bald Cypress attempt wired and ready for winter.

I think there was some improvement in the tree since the first picture was posted.

Constructive criticism welcome.

Regards,
Martin
 

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onlyrey

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How do you manage a sustainable BC flat-top? From what I've seen, there is very little foliage in the flat-top style for the tree to stay happy.
 

bwaynef

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I haven't quite wrapped my head around flat-top BC, but having seen some in person that were very well done, I'm basing my recommendation below on what I recall of those.
 

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Rusty Harris

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All,

Here is my first attempt at a Flat Top style Bald Cypress. It has a way to go yet, on the branches especially. I am hoping for some feedback on the trunk line more than anything else. Constructive criticism on any aspect of the tree is welcome.

Regards,
Martin

Hey Martin,
That bc is coming along nicely. I agree, somewhat with bwaynef, but would like to see the tree in leaf before committing to agree with him completely. A full ,spreading crown is key to creating a flat top style. You may have a better chance at achieving this with further refinement and development of bwaynef's suggestion.
Removing some of the lower branches would improve the look of the tree as a flat top, I believe.I come to this conclusion by trying to picture how a flat top becomes just that,a flattop.I imagine the tree, naturally, aging in a stand of trees, outgrowing and outlasting the surrounding trees. As it struggles for light, it reaches ever upward and focuses its energy and growth where it would gain the greatest return for the effort, on the top. The lower branches would naturally be "dropped" by the tree in its quest for its share of sunlight. After the ancient tree has bested its rivals in the forest by achieving substantial height above them, it would then begin to spread out, capturing as much of the precious sunlight it fought so heroically for. Thus,it ends up with a mostly bare trunk, and an extremely full ,wide, flat crown.
 

johng

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Hey Martin,
That bc is coming along nicely. I agree, somewhat with bwaynef, but would like to see the tree in leaf before committing to agree with him completely. A full ,spreading crown is key to creating a flat top style. You may have a better chance at achieving this with further refinement and development of bwaynef's suggestion.
Removing some of the lower branches would improve the look of the tree as a flat top, I believe.I come to this conclusion by trying to picture how a flat top becomes just that,a flattop.I imagine the tree, naturally, aging in a stand of trees, outgrowing and outlasting the surrounding trees. As it struggles for light, it reaches ever upward and focuses its energy and growth where it would gain the greatest return for the effort, on the top. The lower branches would naturally be "dropped" by the tree in its quest for its share of sunlight. After the ancient tree has bested its rivals in the forest by achieving substantial height above them, it would then begin to spread out, capturing as much of the precious sunlight it fought so heroically for. Thus,it ends up with a mostly bare trunk, and an extremely full ,wide, flat crown.

Hey Rusty and Martin,
Rusty, your explanation works for some flat-tops and also for a lot of Carolina Pines...but many of the best flat-tops I have seen are growing alone in the middle of a lake, pond, or swamp but yet they have a traditional flat-top form...so, how does that come to be??? Is it just the nature of the species?
John
 

Rusty Harris

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Hey Rusty and Martin,
Rusty, your explanation works for some flat-tops and also for a lot of Carolina Pines...but many of the best flat-tops I have seen are growing alone in the middle of a lake, pond, or swamp but yet they have a traditional flat-top form...so, how does that come to be??? Is it just the nature of the species?
John
I don't have an answer for that. I was basing what I said on trying to picture how this form comes to be ,mostly from imagination. Here where I live, I don't have old growth bald cypress stands to help me in discerning the hows and whys of the growth habits. I have seen, in pictures, lone standing bald cypress that represent the flattop look that you mentioned, but pictures don't accurately represent the history of the surrounding area. Were there once other trees around this single flattop, effecting its growth patterns? I don't know. Could it be the natural growth pattern instilled in the trees from many millennia ago from when it did compete in the way I described with other trees? I don't know.There is near me a pretty good population of young bald cypress at at county reservoir, planted as a watershed by the authority over the reservoir. There is also one large bald cypress planted by a local nurseryman in his yard. It is probably sixty years old at the most(nurseryman is mid eighties). I hope you can share a little more on your thoughts and knowledge of these magnificent trees and their growth characteristics with me and the other forum members.What is your thoughts on the growth patterns we are discussing?
I have been kicking around the idea of making a trip next year to see for myself some of the old bald cypress in your area. I have a boat, which has a very shallow draft, and was thinking of asking a few club friends to join on a trip to Santee Cooper. Do you have any suggestions on an area that would be good to visit. I am not planning on collecting,being a stranger in a strange land, I don't want to be shot or ticketed. I just want to behold some of theses old bc with my own eyes. Thanks in advance for any input.
__________________
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johng

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I don't have an answer for that. I was basing what I said on trying to picture how this form comes to be ,mostly from imagination. Here where I live, I don't have old growth bald cypress stands to help me in discerning the hows and whys of the growth habits. I have seen, in pictures, lone standing bald cypress that represent the flattop look that you mentioned, but pictures don't accurately represent the history of the surrounding area. Were there once other trees around this single flattop, effecting its growth patterns? I don't know. Could it be the natural growth pattern instilled in the trees from many millennia ago from when it did compete in the way I described with other trees? I don't know.There is near me a pretty good population of young bald cypress at at county reservoir, planted as a watershed by the authority over the reservoir. There is also one large bald cypress planted by a local nurseryman in his yard. It is probably sixty years old at the most(nurseryman is mid eighties). I hope you can share a little more on your thoughts and knowledge of these magnificent trees and their growth characteristics with me and the other forum members.What is your thoughts on the growth patterns we are discussing?
I have been kicking around the idea of making a trip next year to see for myself some of the old bald cypress in your area. I have a boat, which has a very shallow draft, and was thinking of asking a few club friends to join on a trip to Santee Cooper. Do you have any suggestions on an area that would be good to visit. I am not planning on collecting,being a stranger in a strange land, I don't want to be shot or ticketed. I just want to behold some of theses old bc with my own eyes. Thanks in advance for any input.
__________________
The artist formerly known as insee.

Hey Rusty... I am at work now but I will respond in detail after I get home.
John
 

Rusty Harris

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Hey Rusty and Martin,
Rusty, your explanation works for some flat-tops and also for a lot of Carolina Pines...but many of the best flat-tops I have seen are growing alone in the middle of a lake, pond, or swamp but yet they have a traditional flat-top form...so, how does that come to be??? Is it just the nature of the species?
John
I think I may have a better answer than the one previously posted. In a previous post, I supposed the tree came to be this way through competition and struggling to survive. My answer was more of a story, a yarn,if you will, trying to encapsulate this romantic, heroic history of a tree.Good theory, I believe, but just that, a theory.

After thinking about, I came to another conclusion, one so simple, it made perfect sense to me. Unlike my first description of the struggle for light in unfavorable circumstances that I imagined, this one is based on fact.....
Bald cypress is an extremely apical dominant tree, so much so that over time it is natural for this tree to produce and exhibit foliage more densely toward the top, thus displaying a very full and spreading crown. Even in full, even light, the tree is doing what it does naturally, sending its energy ever upward, and sacrificing a lot of the lower branches in the process. In summary, it is doing the only thing it knows how to do!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this John, and please add, expand on, or even correct what I have written here.
 
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johng

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Hey Rusty...

Ok... here are all the answers... Ha!...I have nothing more than you or anyone else:)

Nor is there anything to correct, as I strongly suspect that your apical dominance theory is right on the money. It doesn't take much effort to see the impact of this trait in all the stages of the natural development of this species. Even in young, immature specimens lower branches are typically missing or weak. When you collect bc it buds back everywhere, but if you just let it grow the vast majority of the growth and strength will all be in the top. This is not to say that with the proper attention lower branches cannot be developped and maintained. This is obviously being done in existing bonsai. I wonder in the long term (100 years or so) if bc bonsai will be able to maintain lower branches...given the back budding tendencies new ones could always be grown as replacements... but I just wonder??

I think your idea of getting out and seeing some natural examples is fantastic!!! For me, this is an absolutely essential, and wonderfully enjoyable part of bonsai. I think Sante would be an excellent area for exploration...my experience is almost totally limited to the upper portions of Lake Marion....this area is closest to home for me and there are so many trees that I have never found a need to look much further. I have also never really explored the lake by boat other than my canoe...although I am sure there are plenty of trees to see out in the main lake areas. One disadvantage to the lake is the relatively young age of the majority of trees...I am not exactly sure but I suspect they are probably not more than 70 to 80 years old.

However if your really want to see old growth trees...I think the rivers and swamps would be a better place to look...There are some fabulous examples of old trees along both the PeeDee and Waccamaw Rivers in the Myrtle Beach area.

You might also consider visiting Four Holes Swamp or Congaree National Monument for further examples of old trees. In both of these locations the trees are amazing but its nearly impossible to take pictures because of the density of the forest. Woods Bay State Park could also be an interesting destination from a design aspect to see Pond Cypress in a Carolina Bay. Catherdral Bay is another location that might be worth looking into...I haven't actually been here but the pictures are great!

Here are some photos I took in Four Holes Swamp
Some from Congaree National Monument
Here are some of Pond Cypress that I think you will enjoy.. Set 1, Set 2
Here is a link to one of my flat-top Bald Cypress project... This tree's journey only started last May.
Here is link to a Pond Cypress that I have been working on now for about 3-4 years.

As you may be able to tell I am very interested in continuing to learn more about and develop some trees in the flat-top style:)

John
 

pjkatich

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John,

Here are a few photos of the bald cypress that grow out in South Texas hill country. These are in Garner State park.

This group of mature trees had a great deal of robust, lower branches.

The first photo is along the river bank.
The second is the trunk of a very large mature tree.
The third is looking up into the structure of this tree.

Just goes to show, there is always an exception somewhere.

Thanks for the links, I enjoyed the pictures.

Regards,
Paul
 

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johng

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Thanks Paul...I grew up in Texas and have actually spent time at Garner State Park. ...and there are always exceptions:)
John
 

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