Dawn Redwood - I need a plan!

emk

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My wife and I bought a Dawn Redwood from a local nursery in 2005 and have had it growing in the back yard for almost three years now. When we got it, I wasn't really thinking of it as a bonsai subject, so I didn't plant it accordingly. Now we realize that this tree is going to quickly outgrow the space we have for it, so I'm considering training it as bonsai after-the-fact.

It's about 6 or 7 feet tall and has a base caliper of 1.5". It's in a shady location (under several other trees) and in clay soil. It's been growing pretty quickly with lovely healthy foilage, though last spring we had a early spring warm-up following by a sudden prolonged cold-snap, so it suffered a bit from that and had to push out a second crop of needles instead of extending as much as it might have wanted to.

Since the tree has such a nice, straight trunk (up until about the forth major whorl of branches), I think it would make a handsome Columnar Formal Upright style bonsai (short branches of roughly the same length up the trunk with foliage starting almost at the base of each branch - I've only seen the style discussed in Koreshoff's book).

The first thing I'd like advice on is whether I should A) leave the tree where it is; B) transplant it in a sunnier location on a tile (to keep the root mass shallow and evenly spread) and in grit-amended soil to make it easier to pot later; or C) pot in a grow box so I have better control over sun/climate exposure and soil quality.

Secondly, I need some tips on how to improve the trunk's taper. Here's what I'm thinking: The base has some low branches I can use as sacrificial branches to grow unchecked for a few years to thicken the trunk below that point (I would remove 2 of the 3 in that first whorl so it doesn't just swell at that point). The next "whorl" only includes one branch, so I could prune that back a bit, but let it likewise grow as a sacrificial branch to thicken that next section of trunk a little less that the lower section. I'd remove the bar branches above (the third "whorl") and then do a trunk chop at one of the next major branches and train it to be the new leader (the trunk get's curvy beyond that point anyhow). Basically, it seems like a waste to me to chop all the way down to the first whorl, especially since I'm not at all confident of my ability to train new leaders to form perfectly straight trunk lines. Then again, this is my first attempt at a formal upright, and my first time working with this species, so I'm completely open to advice!
 

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Rick Moquin

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I'm not sure how "kosher" this is, but I'm going to link to the discussion that's been going on at another forum on this subject to show the direction my thought is going now. http://forum.bonsaitalk.com/f14/dawn-redwood-i-need-plan-27217.html
Not proper etiquette IMO. There is nothing wrong linking to other forums, but double posting doesn't necessarily bring different advice as a lot of members from this site can also be found at BT and other forums. Personally, I only post on "a" forum vice multiple wrt the same question.
 

grog

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Some people don't, can't, or won't post on other forums so it's probably not a bad idea to post the same question on separate venues. As to etiquette well, I dunno. :cool:

That being said it looks like you're getting some good ideas on building taper for your tree. I hope you keep progress updated as I think dawn redwoods are very interesting trees.
 

emk

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I've only once gotten a really nasty reaction about posting similar topics on multiple sites...so I've since stopped using that forum altogether: problem solved! I was more concerned about linking from one to the other, which might be frowned on if the sites see each other as competitors.

Anyhow...
...it looks like you're getting some good ideas on building taper for your tree. I hope you keep progress updated as I think dawn redwoods are very interesting trees.
I agree. Great-looking bark and, as my wife would say, foliage you just want to rub your face in (really, it's cute when she does it). I'll probably pick up a few more this spring since the local garden centers tend to have them pretty cheap.
 
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The goal is to acquire knowledge, unless I am mistaken. If that knowledge is on another forum, or site, by all means link to it. Wikipedia, encartia, university web sites, bonsai blogs, bonsai web sites, bonsai forums, book reviews, wherever the information is, one should be directed there.

Garden Web used to ban people for even mentioning another forum, I was personally banned there once for discussing a contest I was managing at BT at the time. Needless to say, this policy cost them many members.

I caused quite a stir over at BT when I begun posting topic specific threads linking to all the best articles on the subject, no matter where they were located. Most the threads were closed by management almost as soon as they started.

I believe that sharing of information should be first on a forums priorities and that a forum should be thrilled that there members can be assured that information on the subject they seek is available in many forms, including linking to where such is at.

I also practice what I preach, when we were first laying out the policies at KoB, I insisted that we include a thread titled "other resources" in every topic section that linked to quality articles on the subject, no matter where they were located. Each of this sections begins with our words...

"We at KoB believe that the pursuit of knowledge and education in bonsai should come first before all else. We are committed to supplying quality educational and informative content, be it from our own sources or those located elsewhere on the web.

In the spirit of sharing information and assuring that quality educational and informative material regarding bonsai cultivation is readily available to all who seek it, we will continue to uphold these high standards and link to such material, when it is not available here, no matter where it may be on the global web."



As to posting the same thread all over the web, it can be annoying to those of us who read all the forums on a daily basis, but I can understand the thought that different forums may bring in different responses, however I have rarely seen this practice pay off in any way, as usually it is the same information given on each forum. I think that the above practice of giving and also linking to any pertinent information on the subject will eventually negate the need to post the same questions everywhere.


Just my thoughts,



Will
 

emk

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Thanks for the thoughtful contribution Will. GardenWeb was the site that I was talking about. They weren't even polite about it, and that really turned me off. BTalk's never hassled me, and I really appreciate that they never "wipe" their servers of old posts, so all my old questions and discussions are still there whenever I need to reference them (unlike some other sites which shall remain nameless).

BTW, I really like that KoB site. I've read a lot of good information there and that very policy caught my eye right off and I count it as a huge plus.
 

FOX7591

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hi i dont see anything wrong with posting on multiple forums, becuase doing that i am not worried about the same people posting twice im just loooking for more qpioions from different posters. Ive done it and ive had more points of views and its helped me a lot. this is just the way i see it though

thanks.
 

emk

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Ahem.

Any comments about the redwood?

(I know, I know; I asked for it, but...)
 

Rick Moquin

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... quite true. Kompik asked a question and was provided with an answer. What will turn off folks, is when the individual who has posted the same question on various forums, comes back and makes flippant comments because folks are not responding to his question, or sees little response at best. Although this has not occurred here, it occurs far too frequently IMO. This problem only gets worst, once again IMHO when using multiple screen names.

Although one might find a variance of opinions, it is seldom the case. More often than not one will find a general consensus. What really exacerbates the problem of double or even triple posting, is that threads become dis-jointed. Replies to questions that were intended for one forum find their way on another, after a while the thread doesn't make sense anymore.

On a more personal note, I, in particular, will not flop back and forth between forums to read what has taken place and respond to given questions. It is not proper etiquette IMO and I will refrain from doing so.

Edit: This response was being written as EMK was posting. No ofense intended.
 
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Ahem.

Any comments about the redwood?

(I know, I know; I asked for it, but...)
One plan would be to leave it in the ground, air-layer it at point 1.5 (somewhere between the 1st and 2nd whorl)...now you have another tree to plant in the ground.

Once the layer is removed, remove all but the lowest branch on the lower part and train that to be the new leader. Let it grow out to the point where the thickness almost matches that of the orginal trunk and repeat. In this way you will create taper and movement in the trunk and since you will be doing it in the ground, this would be the quickest way to do it. Do not trim the tree, let it grow, only chopping when the thickness dictates.

As to the layer you removed, plant it in the ground and follow the steps above.

Here is some information you might find helpful...

http://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/redwood.html

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/trunks.htm

http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATdevelopingtrunksforbonsai.htm

http://torontobonsai.org/Archives/techniques/trunk.chop.htm

http://www.bonsaiprimer.com/trunk/trunk.html


Will
 
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emk

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What will turn off folks, is when the individual who has posted the same question on various forums, comes back and makes flippant comments because folks are not responding to his question, or sees little response at best. Although this has not occurred here, it occurs far too frequently IMO. This problem only gets worst, once again IMHO when using multiple screen names.
Edit: This response was being written as EMK was posting. No ofense intended.
None taken. =) I just thought it was funny that after six days people were still talking about the multi-post topic (which I would have started as its own thread if that's what I wanted to discuss), but not about the tree at all. It was more of a chuckle than a complaint.

One plan would be to leave it in the ground, air-layer it at point 1.5 (somewhere between the 1st and 2nd whorl)...now you have another tree to plant in the ground.
I'm actually planning to do that with a Linden I got from my parents last year. A question I have about this approach, but I'll put those in a separate post (or maybe they'll be answered by reading your posts) since they are kind of involved.
 
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Graydon

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A plan would require knowing what you would like this tree to become in the future. For instance the plan would be different if you were looking for a formal upright or a cascade. What is your vision? This type of trees can make nice formal upright trees but that would require many years of chop and grow to induce taper. In my opinion I think they would be nice as informal upright trees. Something with some movement in the trunk and also something to be appreciated when dormant similar to my local bald cypress.

No matter what the future style may be it would not hurt to leave it in the ground for another season, worst case it would fatten up a bit. It would also recover faster from any trunk chops while in ground with undisturbed roots.
 

emk

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A plan would require knowing what you would like this tree to become in the future. For instance the plan would be different if you were looking for a formal upright or a cascade. What is your vision?
I mentioned in the original post that I was aiming for a Columnar Formal Upright (see attached sketch from Koreshoff's book).

Which reminds me:
In this way you will create taper and movement in the trunk and since you will be doing it in the ground, this would be the quickest way to do it. Do not trim the tree, let it grow, only chopping when the thickness dictates.
Because of the style I'm aiming for I would like to avoid trunk movement if possible (maybe I'm just misunderstanding this term), which is why I was hoping I could induce taper with sacrificial branches rather that chopping away a perfectly straight trunk and hoping I could train a new one just as straight. Then again, I'll never learn unless I try!
 

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Graydon

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I mentioned in the original post that I was aiming for a Columnar Formal Upright (see attached sketch from Koreshoff's book).

Which reminds me:
Because of the style I'm aiming for I would like to avoid trunk movement if possible (maybe I'm just misunderstanding this term), which is why I was hoping I could induce taper with sacrificial branches rather that chopping away a perfectly straight trunk and hoping I could train a new one just as straight. Then again, I'll never learn unless I try!
Sorry, my bad. It may be worth noting you picked what may be the most difficult form to realistically achieve IMO. I must clarify that I believe it is difficult unless you resort to that overused and not really good looking style of "columnar upright but struck by lightning and now it has a jinned top because I can't really induce taper in this tree" style.
 

emk

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Sorry, my bad. It may be worth noting you picked what may be the most difficult form to realistically achieve IMO. I must clarify that I believe it is difficult unless you resort to that overused and not really good looking style of "columnar upright but struck by lightning and now it has a jinned top because I can't really induce taper in this tree" style.
Yeah, try to avoid that. :D Yep, I can see that it'll be tricky...and that's why I'm asking for advice. :eek:
 

Mojosan

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...."not really good looking style of "columnar upright but struck by lightning and now it has a jinned top because I can't really induce taper in this tree" style.."

You mean like this?
 

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emk

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...."not really good looking style of "columnar upright but struck by lightning and now it has a jinned top because I can't really induce taper in this tree" style.."

You mean like this?
Yeah, that guy was *obviously* a newb. ;)

Oh, BTW, replanted this tree in the front yard (chopped off the tap roots and planted over a tile) last spring so it could get some more sun and work on more of a base flare. In a few weeks I'll start an air-layer or two on the top section which will hopefully be ready to be removed this fall.
 
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