Dawn redwood nursery find?

Drewski

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I found this at a nearby nursery yesterday. The pocketknife in the second picture is a hair over 4 inches long. I was pressed for time, so didn’t dig around the base to find how deep I need to go to find the roots. It’s the biggest dawn redwood I’ve found so far looking around the various nurseries, but that may have something to do with the season here. I may go back today to have another look, but thought I’d ask folks here what they think.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I'm seeing a ton of dawn redwoods showing up in nurseries. They've got them pretty much everywhere here in NC, and they even have big ones in landscape at my local Costco (which was opened about a year ago).

Though dawn redwood is a little smaller and easier to work with than coast redwood, everything is relative. They still grow naturally straight as a pole, with very little taper. It is difficult to get nice caliper at the roots and also get a gradual taper to the apex. For bonsai, most people prune the top off, leaving a jin, and wire up the next highest branch as a new apex. It is a reasonable solution, but after you see many trees styled this way, they tend to get a little boring and repetitive. Bald cypress is similar - and has similar challenges.

That said, if you want to buy it because you like the species, go for it! Make sure you prioritize nebari - the surface roots where they meet the soil and trunk flare at the soil line. In your nursery tree example, you can't see the roots, so you need to dig down to see what you're dealing with. If the roots are all on one side, or if they are only a few overlarge roots, I would skip the tree and look elsewhere. You are looking for symmetrical small roots that flare out from the base like a pie... and many nursery trees tend to grow roots downwards instead of radially.
 
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Motus

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That's a nice trunk. You could probably airlayer a lot of it if you wanted to.
 

MrWunderful

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I have a large nursery dawn redwood like that. I have set up the base through a repot this year, and Am going to layer the top 3-4 times over the next years while developing the nebari. I am growing out a new leader for the base and it will eventually be chopped all the way back.
 

Dav4

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You'll learn this as you continue in the hobby, but when you're thinking to purchase larger stock to be cut down, the only thing that matters is generally the bottom 20% (or less) of the tree. Basically, you want to see good rootage and some interesting movement and taper in the first 6-10 inches of the trunk. If it's lacking in those, I generally suggest moving on as you'll be fighting those shortcomings forever. From the picture, I see a ramrod straight trunk with no taper and no surface roots at all... they may be there, buried, but without seeing or feeling them with my fingers, they can't be assessed. This stock, in my opinion, doesn't have much going for it as future bonsai stock. Good luck in your search :) .
 

Mash

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I'm seeing a ton of dawn redwoods showing up in nurseries. They've got them pretty much everywhere here in NC, and they even have big ones in landscape at my local Costco (which was opened about a year ago).

Though dawn redwood is a little smaller and easier to work with than coast redwood, everything is relative. They still grow naturally straight as a pole, with very little taper. It is difficult to get nice caliper at the roots and also get a gradual taper to the apex. For bonsai, most people prune the top off, leaving a jin, and wire up the next highest branch as a new apex. It is a reasonable solution, but after you see many trees styled this way, they tend to get a little boring and repetitive. Bald cypress is similar - and has similar challenges.

That said, if you want to buy it because you like the species, go for it! Make sure you prioritize nebari - the surface roots where they meet the soil and trunk flare at the soil line. In your nursery tree example, you can't see the roots, so you need to dig down to see what you're dealing with. If the roots are all on one side, or if they are only a few overlarge roots, I would skip the tree and look elsewhere. You are looking for symmetrical small roots that flare out from the base like a pie... and many nursery trees tend to grow roots downwards instead of radially.
Really fun tree to work with cause they grow fast. It's the pots and how the nurserys grow them. I use rubber animal feed bins I drill. The large holes in the sides let roots escape each year helps. I also start from cuttings so I don't have to fight what the nurserys have done. I have mulch around the bases and the roots will spread well beyond the pots. I feel it helps with the base. The bonsai soil still keeps nice fine roots. I could remove more soil to show more root. I have to work the roots ever spring doing major cut backs. These are trees I am developing.
 

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Mash

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I'm seeing a ton of dawn redwoods showing up in nurseries. They've got them pretty much everywhere here in NC, and they even have big ones in landscape at my local Costco (which was opened about a year ago).

Though dawn redwood is a little smaller and easier to work with than coast redwood, everything is relative. They still grow naturally straight as a pole, with very little taper. It is difficult to get nice caliper at the roots and also get a gradual taper to the apex. For bonsai, most people prune the top off, leaving a jin, and wire up the next highest branch as a new apex. It is a reasonable solution, but after you see many trees styled this way, they tend to get a little boring and repetitive. Bald cypress is similar - and has similar challenges.

That said, if you want to buy it because you like the species, go for it! Make sure you prioritize nebari - the surface roots where they meet the soil and trunk flare at the soil line. In your nursery tree example, you can't see the roots, so you need to dig down to see what you're dealing with. If the roots are all on one side, or if they are only a few overlarge roots, I would skip the tree and look elsewhere. You are looking for symmetrical small roots that flare out from the base like a pie... and many nursery trees tend to grow roots downwards instead of radially.
For the tops you can force growth with cut backs. The trees constantly seem to grow new shoots all over the trunk and branches when worked. 2 trees I cut back earlier in the year. One gave me a nice new top on the old 45 cut. Other tree opted to do the same but really late in the year. It will shoot growth there next year and have a new top like the one. Point being you can make taper with a big enough base and some work.
 

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Potawatomi13

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Is boring straight trunk worth good bark and diameter? Plant in yard and grow as landscape decoration;)
 

Drewski

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@Potawatomi13, that’s why I asked for input before buying it. I can leave at the nursery for someone else. 😉

I can wait to find one that’s more interesting.
 

Drewski

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So I went back and had another look. Poked around in the soil and I was left thinking the roots are a mess. Seemed like quite a few girdling roots and not much flare at the base. However, spotted another one nearby that has more promise, just not as big. I’ll check out another nursery before I return to look at the second one again. I’ll take a couple of pics when Iget back to it.
 

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