Colorado Blue Spruce

Adair M

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I realize the tree will change alot over the next few years, and big changes will be made. But as of right now, how should I make it not look like a sad little christmas tree? I want it to start looking like a decent little piece of material, that may be far away from being a bonsai, but still not a garden shrub. You know?
That starts with picking a trunk line and front. Then you choose your primary branches. Which may not be the largest on the tree!

Spruce are known for having rather thin branches that are either short and horizontal, or longer and hang down from having held lots of snow.

pick a style, and pick branches that work for that style. Spruce are also known for having lots of short Jin’s from having branches broken off. So, rather than cutting the excess branches off flush to the trunk, consider leaving stubs to make Jin’s and snags. Getting the branches to hang down will involve wire.
 

sorce

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You know?
I know there is a thread running called "your biggest Bonsai mistake" I wanna keep you out of! Lol!

For real though....

They talk about not being able to put stuff back on when you take it off ....
But this is usually in regards to branches on "finished" trees that need to go anyway, and don't make or break the trees. Usually.

That is an important decision.

I want to emphasize how incredibly trivial it is though, as compared to making decisions on material still becoming a "start", or a "pre-bonsai" or something other than "fresh from the regular nursery", like you have.

At this point, it's not a different design or not, it's being worthy of continuing forward as a tree or not.

It matters I guess, because it's easy to have a yard full of shit that you're just waiting on, which then gets neglected because there is just so much boring you.

Quite like the 32 parts of foliage those trees are then, the volume you can store, but of no use to you and your enjoyment of the hobby. As that one branch with 32 parts of ramification is of no use on a little trunk.

This is why it is important to make 25 year future decisions today. Building your branching in your mind with foliage you know will come in 2040 or so.

Resorce.

Sorce
 

B.uneasy

Shohin
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Thank you guys very much for your Knowledge!!! This whole community is like a library. Food for thought, don't know if you can tell as well in the picture but the bottom of the trunk is way thicker than it is right above the bottom right branch. Do you think it may be a branch of significance somewhere in this trees future?
 
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Leo in N E Illinois

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For now, this is the last question I have. Trust me, there will be many more to come! How do I thin the tree out enough to really decide what branches I want to keep, and all of the ones I want to take off. The trees just so thick with branches. I there any specific rules on branching at this point?
@Adair M pretty much covered it. What to remove is where some of the "art" comes into the "Art of Bonsai". I can not tell you what to remove, I have no idea what finish tree you might be trying to develop towards. Often it is better to just let a tree continue to grow out, rather than prune, if you feel unsure what to prune off. Sometimes the additional year or two of growing, the choices become obvious. This is one reason I repot first, and arrange the roots preparing for a future shallow bonsai pot first. Then let the tree recover form the repotting, without any pruning or styling. Then the tree will have been in my possession for 2 to 5 years before I begin styling the tree. That is time to get familiar, and usually by then, one or two styling options become obvious. My best trees came about this way. My worst trees were trees I styled the first day I owned them,. No time to consider multiple options. So give yourself time, you don't need to style right away. As the tree grows, you will see more options.

So, do you want the spruce to look like a spruce? Hence naturalistic design? Or do you want it to look like some other iconic tree in your mind's eye? If you want it so look like a spruce, hanging branches like trees in high elevation mountains? Or more horizontal branches, like eastern white spruce in the northern forests of New England and eastern Canada? Or do you want your spruce to be a stand in for say, maybe an old eastern white pine? Where you have a long horizontal branch, followed by several short branches, then another long branch then several short branches up to the apex. All the branches on eastern white pine tend to be quite horizontal.

So it is up to your, consider your possibilities, and what you would like. Then see if you can get there with the branches that actually exist in the tree in front of you. The interaction of considering a possible design, then looking at the tree in front of you, then modifying possible designs,then looking again at the tree in front of you, then adjusting your plan, that is where the "Art" happens. Time for consideration, really helps.

Just from the photo, I would probably "jin" or create a deadwood stump out of that first lower branch. Its removal will give you the appearance of taper, which is important in creating a "tree" image, rather than a shrub.

But if you kept it, it might become your "tree". Personally I would not keep that first branch, but that is my taste, it does not have to be yours.
 

sorce

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I guess there's a lot we can learn about......

Quarantine.

They do it with fish.

Good practice.

Sorce
 
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augustine

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Someone coined a great expression for bonsai, “benign neglect” which imo answers your question of “what do I do the rest of the year?” Fertilize plus give it fish and seaweed.

Keep it alive. Sure some people have cut top and bottom ruthlessly and trees survive but to what end? Another great expression is the “slow way is the fast way.”
 

B.uneasy

Shohin
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What work do you think would be acceptable to be done on this tree this year since I gave it such a trim. Also, are all the branches with needles that dont have any buds eventually going to die since they cant get new buds?
 

PiñonJ

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What work do you think would be acceptable to be done on this tree this year since I gave it such a trim. Also, are all the branches with needles that dont have any buds eventually going to die since they cant get new buds?
If the buds have opened, don’t do anything more this year. But, you actually didn’t take that much off, so if the buds are swelling, but not yet open, you could get it into a more appropriate container with bonsai soil. Again, young nursery spruces can take a lot of abuse the first go around.
 

B.uneasy

Shohin
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If the buds have opened, don’t do anything more this year. But, you actually didn’t take that much off, so if the buds are swelling, but not yet open, you could get it into a more appropriate container with bonsai soil. Again, young nursery spruces can take a lot of abuse the first go around.
the buds haven't opened. They look the same as they did in winter time. Do you know when they are supposed to open? Personally, Would you use your "one insult" for wiring, removing branches, or repotting?
 

PiñonJ

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In this case, I would re-pot. It’s not just one insult, you’ve already pruned it. But as @Cofga and I have both noted, on a young nursery spruce, the first working can be pretty severe. The buds will start to open when the tree decides spring is really here.
 

B.uneasy

Shohin
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In this case, I would re-pot. It’s not just one insult, you’ve already pruned it. But as @Cofga and I have both noted, on a young nursery spruce, the first working can be pretty severe. The buds will start to open when the tree decides spring is really here.
Do you reccomend any certain sized pots for the first repot? And what mix would you use on this tree?
 
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