Cascade Shimpaku

n8

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Won this in our local show auction five or six years ago, a wildly unexciting, wiry shimpaku that could best be described as a three-sided box. My teacher suggested we flip the whole thing upside down and make a cascade out of it, which we did four years ago. The top has since been filling in really well and I'm happy with the way the pads are working on the next layer down, too. The bottom, however, is still gangly and unattractive. Growth down there has been very slow and I had been thinking about whacking the whole section off. Then I had a spurt of growth this year midway through the sloping J-section.

I'm not sure if that that's a sign that stronger growth is coming down low. Maybe I should wire another twist and bring it back under the top foliage? Cutting off the long extension will immediately make a better tree, but should I wait and see if the bottom fills out more? I'm not sure.

What do you think?

IMG_8378.jpg IMG_8379.jpg IMG_8380.jpg
 

Shibui

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Shimpaku has been moderately apical dominant here. That means that while the upper sections are allowed to grow lower parts just sit with very little growth. To get better growth on lower sections of cascade I have had to trim upper sections more.
Keeping cascades looking good all over is a real challenge.
The first straight section of the trunk seems to stand out. How thick is that part of the trunk? Just wondering how difficult it would be to get some bend in there???
 

Potawatomi13

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Often trees especially if "apically" dominant skimp on energy given to hanging branches. In most cases therefore energy balancing must be used to give more strength to such neglected regions. Providing best lighting to these areas is one helping technique. Bigger technique is to balance amount of foliage higher up by not keeping anything not really needed and/or developing these areas last (or keeping permanently smaller) after lower areas have reached good development. This continues for life of tree as long as low branches kept. One trick some use is keeping tree tilted so hanging branch/trunk is higher and can be very helpful but tricky for watering;). Also would add; too much foliage in upper part of tree by 30-40% weakening lower tree.
 
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Forsoothe!

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At the risk of offending, it doesn't look right an never will. The essence of "cascade" is the motion, "tumbling down". The straight section is the very soul of rigid and the antithesis of the concept making this a fool's errand. The tree looks like it tipped over. The King has no clothes.
 
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Bonsai Nut

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Unless you decided to go with a slant style the lower straight section of trunk is going to crush all your dreams. I would focus on trying to bend that trunk first and foremost.

As far as keeping a descending branch strong, you have to balance the strength of the tree by removing foliage from the strong areas while leaving the weak areas alone. In the early summer, if you clean up the upper part of the tree, the descending branch will strengthen considerably. I have a shimpaku cascade that I've been working on for several years, and it's almost 3' long. You have to think of a cascade in nature. In many cases they are growing down because that is the only way they can grow - they are on a cliff or precipice with strong winds where any foliage that grows upwards is immediately wind pruned. The apex is almost always weak and understated (compared to other styles). If your apex is too dominant, it makes the cascade unbelievable - because why would a tree grow a cascading branch if the apex is growing well?
 
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Hartinez

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The cascade feels forced. In agreement with the above comments, some level of bending needs to take place to get that straight section some more movement and interest. But even with bending, I still dont see a cascade in there. Maybe re-envision as a slant style , or even a semicascade.
 
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A. Gorilla

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I think my NANA would beat up your shhhhhhhimpaku.

Nana. Nana. Na-na.

Shhhhhhhimpaku.

Ee-tow-wah-GAWA!!!

And what Sorce said.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Here's a photo of the cascade in development I referenced earlier... I post it to show you can get strong growth throughout a shimpaku cascade. This is from rough nursery stock I bought for $60. It has already been through a round of development pruning and wiring... two years ago. Now it is in recovery and growth mode... but I hope you can look at it and say "I know where you are going with this" :)

cascade.jpg
 
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n8

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Good input from all y'all. Thanks!

It is forced. Agreed and no offense on the feedback. That's why I asked. I still have three nearly right angles from the original box shape I received it in. It was an idea that was thrown at me and we went with it. It's certainly not material that I typically envision as a cascade, like Nut's example.

It might be possible to split the trunk to get a big bend in, but the boxy trunk is angular as fuck. I should roll with that angularity and see what happens.

@sorce: Good suggestion on pot change. Perhaps one of Randy Horshaw's brutalist pots?

@Hartinez: Semicascade is what I've been considering by lopping off the big dropping branch. More convinced that's the way to go with everyone's feedback. This ain't a cascade and I cannot force it into one.

Here's a top shot so you can see what I'm working with. Shoulda included this in the first post.


IMG-8381.jpg
 

Pitoon

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Good input from all y'all. Thanks!

It is forced. Agreed and no offense on the feedback. That's why I asked. I still have three nearly right angles from the original box shape I received it in. It was an idea that was thrown at me and we went with it. It's certainly not material that I typically envision as a cascade, like Nut's example.

It might be possible to split the trunk to get a big bend in, but the boxy trunk is angular as fuck. I should roll with that angularity and see what happens.

@sorce: Good suggestion on pot change. Perhaps one of Randy Horshaw's brutalist pots?

@Hartinez: Semicascade is what I've been considering by lopping off the big dropping branch. More convinced that's the way to go with everyone's feedback. This ain't a cascade and I cannot force it into one.

Here's a top shot so you can see what I'm working with. Shoulda included this in the first post.


View attachment 401032
Try bending it in more at the second kink. Then repot on a slight angle to show off those kinks. The branches with foliage can be wired and set into position. You have to eliminate the straight section we see in the pics.

Also to keep the dead work from breaking if you bend at the second kink to compress the branch. Wrap it with a towel or shop rag and wet it. Keep it wet for a few days so the dead wood will absorb the water from the rag and then wrap it with raffia before wiring. It will be a lot more flexible at that point. Good luck!
 

sorce

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Perhaps one of Randy Horshaw's brutalist pots?

The ones I know of seem too thick to "get a trunk over".
That's how come I like that @mwar15 pot, cuz it "spills" the trunk out which makes it easier for the trunk to "get over" it.
The wide lip can be used to break up the distance of the long straight section, with the line of the front face lip adding to the downward direction of the tree too.

The last of the first set of pictures.

Sorce
 

sorce

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The wide lip behind the foliageless DW base will act like a backboard to the viewer, sending the eye back across rather than having it get lost over the bare base.

That very pot shape is key.

Sorce
 

mwar15

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@n8 that pot is on consignment at a local bonsai shop. But if your looking for something like that let me know. I can do rough and brutal too. I would get pencil thick copper wire and bend that trunk and see where it takes you
 

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Pitoon

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@n8 that pot is on consignment at a local bonsai shop. But if your looking for something like that let me know. I can do rough and brutal too. I would get pencil thick copper wire and bend that trunk and see where it takes you
I wish I had grass as green as yours!
 

Potawatomi13

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Presentation angle of #1 picture seems to present trunk very well deemphasizing straightness. Making bend in dead wood seems very bad idea likely to break🤨. Then where is support for rest of tree?
 

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