Bald Cypress Butt and Bole question and Fall foliage shot

Phillip C

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Here is a shot of my large Bald Cypress with it's Fall foliage. I'm going to take it to a workshop next Sat. and Sun with Ryan Neil. It could surely stand some work (can't they all?) and I wish I knew how to get a bigger butt to trunk ratio going. It's been in a Bonsai pot for a log time, so I am not sure if returning it to a nursery pot would do it. It may just continue to look that way as to the butt and bole and the changes may occur with the limbs, etc. Any insight into this would surely be appreciated as I just began Bonsai last Spring and bought this BC last July or August at our Society's auction. Many thanks, Phillip C
 

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nice baldy Phillip !
please post an afterwards pic after Ryan Neil does his magic on it.
 
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edprocoat

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Thats a very natural looking tree, reminds me of many along the St John's river in Florida where I like to fish. I would not want to change it all.

ed
 

ironman

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Nice BC...
I have a couple BC which needed a fatter butt - your term.
Here's what I did for mine;
Plant them in a ample growing container and apply a 'growth fertilizer' every other week during growing season. It works well in South Texas where I live.
The growing container should be good and wide wide and shallow. Add a deep enough tray underneath the container so it can collect water. I try to have the water mostly disappear at the end of each day. Strip leaves 3 times a year to promote back-budding. Allow enough time for tree to recover before end of growing season. Promoting of lower buds, soon to be sacrificial limbs, is what you are after. After you have a few active growing limbs, the energy will be pumping girth into the base. Easy, peasy. I added 40% to to base in a couple/3 years...
 

Phillip C

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Thanks Iron man and you other guys. Yeah "fat butt" sounds a bit like an old Queen song, but I couldn't think of a better way to put it. "Add girth" sounds much better.

I know you didn't take me to raise, but I am new to Bonsai, having attended only 3 workshops and none with this BC which I bough in July/August from another member here in Atlanta. I am not sure what "backbudding" or "sacraficial limbs" are. Since this is my only true Bonsai with any age, I am scarred of wrecking it. Thanks for your input. Phillip C
 

jquast

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Phillip C,

Your best bet would be to work with someone from your club on future developments of the tree. It is an excellent learing experience and from my own experience it was how I learned and got confident enough to both buy more expensive trees and work on them. Check to see if one of the more senior members of the club offers weekend work sessions/classes where you can work under a more experienced member. I spent many years fumbling my way through this art and it wasn't until I started working with an instructor that my skills improved as well as my collection.

Just my two cents.

Jeff
 
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Dav4

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"backbudding"- getting the tree to develop and grow foliage from latent buds along the interior of the branches and not just at the tips.

"Sacrificial branches"- branches that are not planned to be part of the final design, but have some purpose in the development of part of the tree, ie., to thicken the trunk or to heal a wound before being removed.
 

rockm

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I would get someone who has been working with BC for a while to help you on growing it out to increase girth (although this tree doesn't need it really--collected specimens are rarely "perfect" and that's what gives them their charm) and further refinement. I might say this tree already HAS a compelling, pretty well-executed design as an aging giant BC. Trying to add girth to it will probably set you back years in the design that is already there.

Bald cypress are quirky trees and they usually have unique character that no other conifers have. They are NOT redwoods, or ponderosa pines, or any other kind of pine, nor are they typical deciduous trees. They have a style and growth habit all their own--And one that confounds the Japanese who have been frustrated in working with the species because they impose the Japanese "bonsai triangle design" on them. That effort is futile. Americans who have grown up looking and living with BC well understand how to work it into a bonsai. Gary Marchal, Vaughn Banting, Guy Guidry and a few others pioneered the most effective techniques for BC. Do a search on their names and see what turns up.

Understanding the species can go a very long way in understanding how to make one into a convincing bonsai. With BC, it is best to avoid "in-the-box" thinking about composition. Trying to strap a Japanese formal upright style or even an informal upright can result in a very odd unattractive BC. Since you live in the species' native range, the best thing you could do is go out and look at the "real" BC in its environment. Study the forms older and younger trees in their native habitat have...
 
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mcpesq817

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To me, the base/girth on this tree is already pretty good. By growing it out further, I'd be worried about potentially losing the taper and character you already have on the lower half of the tree. I'd think about concentrating on the top half, and you'll end up with a cool tree.
 

Phillip C

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nice baldy Phillip !
please post an afterwards pic after Ryan Neil does his magic on it.

Art, will do. I will attempt to get a few better photo's today or at least before the weekend. The shots I have saved as well as the ones posted are not very good photo's. Photography is one of my main hobbies, I know much more about it than I do Bonsai, and there is no excuse i me not having any better shots to post than I do. Keep an eye out, maybe inspiration will strike and I will get some decent shots of it and get them posted before Ryan works on it. At least I'll have them with some after his work to show the difference. Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it. Phillip C
 

rockm

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It will be interesting to see what Ryan does with this tree...
 

Phillip C

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Phillip C,

Your best bet would be to work with someone from your club on future developments of the tree. It is an excellent learing experience and from my own experience it was how I learned and got confident enough to both buy more expensive trees and work on them. Check to see if one of the more senior members of the club offers weekend work sessions/classes where you can work under a more experienced member. I spent many years fumbling my way through this art and it wasn't until I started working with an instructor that my skills improved as well as my collection.

Just my two thoughts.

Jeff

Jeff, First of all I haven't figured out how to "Reply with Quote" without having the entire post being quoted back. Let me thank you for your sound advice that is borne of experience. Gary Marchon lead the first workshop I attended last Spring, but unfortunately I didn't own the BC then. Gary has moved here to Atlanta and I read in this forum from another member of the Atlanta Bonsai Society that he attends Gary's workshops. I didn't know he conducted workshops or did individual teaching, but plan on getting touch with him about taking me on as a student. If he can't do it, there appear to be a plethora of more senior members who are willing to share their knowledge and experience whether formally or informally with new members like me. There are several members who own BC's and maybe one of them would take me on. At any rate, thanks for the sage advice, I will follow up with action on it.
 

Phillip C

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Why dont you just ask Mr. Neil at the workshop?

imholte, I plan on taking this tree to the workshop and asking these questions along with others and seeing what he recommends doing with the tree. I just thought I would also seek some advice here on the forum from some of the folks who know way more than me, which is most all of them. Phillip C
 

rockm

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You might email Gary Marchal and ask him -- I've done so in the past and he's been extremely helpful. I think he might be reached through this web site:
http://www.cajunbonsai.com/
 

Phillip C

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I would get someone who has been working with BC for a while to help you on growing it out to increase girth (although this tree doesn't need it really--collected specimens are rarely "perfect" and that's what gives them their charm) and further refinement. I might say this tree already HAS a compelling, pretty well-executed design as an aging giant BC. Trying to add girth to it will probably set you back years in the design that is already there.

Bald cypress are quirky trees and they usually have unique character that no other conifers have. They are NOT redwoods, or ponderosa pines, or any other kind of pine, nor are they typical deciduous trees. They have a style and growth habit all their own--And one that confounds the Japanese who have been frustrated in working with the species because they impose the Japanese "bonsai triangle design" on them. That effort is futile. Americans who have grown up looking and living with BC well understand how to work it into a bonsai. Gary Marchal, Vaughn Banting, Guy Guidry and a few others pioneered the most effective techniques for BC. Do a search on their names and see what turns up.

Understanding the species can go a very long way in understanding how to make one into a convincing bonsai. With BC, it is best to avoid "in-the-box" thinking about composition. Trying to strap a Japanese formal upright style or even an informal upright can result in a very odd unattractive BC. Since you live in the species' native range, the best thing you could do is go out and look at the "real" BC in its environment. Study the forms older and younger trees in their native habitat have...

Rockm, Thanks for the well thought out and very good response addressing my concerns regarding this BC. I only meant to post the part of your quote that addresses getting to know the species in it's natural habitat. I don't know how to get part of a quote and not the entire post.

I agree that this thing my look somewhat like a Redwood, a deciduous hardwood or many other things, but at the end of the day it is unique in of of itself. A deciduous conifer alone puts it in a very small class alone. That it's native habitat is mainly in the Southeast, with fingers extending beyond, added to the past fact make it even more unique.

I am new to Bonsai, but not to the world. I am a retired attorney and Judge and have an undergraduate degree in forestry. I grow pine trees, mainly on my plantation back in Alabama now. Prior to working as an attorney, I spent several years buying hardwood timber across the Southeast and spent most of my time in the swamps and lowlands of this area. From this time springs my love of the Bald Cypress. I have seen more stands of Bald Cypress than I could possibly remember, but I do remember how it grows, it's shapes and peculiarities. It can spend a good part of the year growing underwater in the swamp. This water may seem stagnant, and it is usually fetid, but it is moving. underneath this water is deep silty mud, and BC's have big, long, deep tap roots and sends up knees, the purpose of which has been the subject of much conjecture, but for sure are part of the root system. They will not sprout under any conditions as they have no growth nodes. It can grow under these conditions, but would prefer not to, growing in very wet lowlands instead.

All of that is to say that I am very familiar with where they grow and what a stand looks like as well as how different stands can look in different locations, even in the same swamp. Among other trees, White Oak, Quercus alba pagodafolia, and BC's are two of my favorite trees. I have no intention of growing this tree is the typical Japanese triangle style, rather as a mature, dominant, flat top BC.

It's too bad that I wasn't into Bonsai then or I could have collected many good species. Now, at 51 I stay out of the swamp at every opportunity and am too "soft" to do any collecting today except to buy good Bonsai tree's and young pre-Bonsai.

Thank you for the very good and well thought out post in response to mine. I really am appreciative. Phillip C
 

Phillip C

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Rockm, this is in response to the mention of Gary Marchon and his link. He conducted the first work session and critique that I ever attended last Spring.

Gary has moved from Louisiana to Atlanta and I understand from this forum that he may be conducting study groups or something. I am going to see if I can get in with that. I also have a 7 tree small BC collection that I hope will one day become a forest, so I have plenty to learn and to learn about BC's from Gary Marchol would be a dream. Thanks for the info and the link,I appreciate your time. Phillip C
 
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jk_lewis

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First of all I haven't figured out how to "Reply with Quote" without having the entire post being quoted back.

Well, you can just highlight the area you want to quote, COPY it, then PASTE it into the reply box. Then highlight it again and click on the little cartoon "balloon" (last icon on the row of icons over the reply box). That's what I did here.

Or, you can just hit the Reply with Quote button, the highlight the stuff you don't want and hit delete, leaving what you do want.

There wasn't much wrong with your tree picture that putting it in front of a plain background wouldn't cure.
 

rockm

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"I agree that this thing my look somewhat like a Redwood, a deciduous hardwood or many other things, but at the end of the day it is unique in of of itself. A deciduous conifer alone puts it in a very small class alone. That it's native habitat is mainly in the Southeast, with fingers extending beyond, added to the past fact make it even more unique"

It is related to Redwood, but it is most definitely not. I posted because I'd hate to see the naturalistic BC form of your tree get hammered into something it is not--a western conifer shape. That's why I'm interested in seeing how Ryan handles it. He is from the West coast and got his bonsai schooling in Japan. I know he is tremendously talented, but I haven't seen him handle many eastern or southeastern trees. There is a different sensibility to some of the species east of the Mississippi. BC is one of those.

As you well know, BC can take many distinct forms from tight pyramid when young to snag topped lanky old age. I think yours is in the latter category. A tight bonsaii donut pyramid would not do it justice...

As for bonsai-ing white oak, good luck ;). They're tough to get into a bonsai pot. Try a live oak (quercus Virginiana) I've had one as a bonsai for going on 20 years now. They're pretty easy, once you get them into a training container.

And for everyone --it's Gary M-A-R-C-H-A-L if you're searching online for photos or his comments.
 

Phillip C

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I just like that particular cultivar of white oak, I can't imagine trying to Bonsai one and don't think I'll try. A Live Oak would be tough as well. How big is yours? Did you collect it? Atlanta is too far north for them, but I have them on my plantation in the coastal plain part of Alabama. An old live oak is almost a Bonsai all by itself with twists and turns and branches growing on the ground. I have a 1/4 mile drive up to my farm house and it is lined with live oaks. It's like driving through a tunnel. Thanks, Phillip C
 

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