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Tachigi

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A lot of you may have seen this Spruce before. I've been thinking alot about its nebari. While this is a nice tree it does have a major flaw with the nebari. I could rationalize it away by saying that its wild collected stock and that is the norm. However, in my heart of hearts I know that this will never fly with me and I will be unhappy with the tree.

So I have to make some decisions and thought I might get the input from anybody that wanted to venture a comment. This is what I've come up with to this point.

The dragons tail
#1 Shows what I affectionately call a dragons tail. The top of the tail is deadwood and desirable. The bottom is a major root and life vein. To me this adds (as a whole) little to the composition the horizontal plane draws your eye out and away from the tree. It also could pose a problem down the road when repotting time comes. Sooo, what to do? The choices would be (a)Keep it and live with it? (b) spilt the living vein from the deadwood and tuck it up and under the trunk carefully and over time (c) ground layer the root close to the base and when rooted remove the living vein from the dead wood.

#2 This spot is really devoid of roots and a bit bulbous. It is even accented more because it sits between two large roots. Am I over reacting to this issue or is it a valid point? I see only one of two options (a) leave it be or (B) dam up the side of that base and encourage rootage at the same time if (c) from above is chosen.

#3 Another larger root on the left of front. Almost an aerial root by the looks of it. (a)Does it add character and should stay? (b) get rid of it completely (c) graft it to the trunk, kind of an approach graft that runs the length of the root, to pull it in to the composition and make a more compact image.

So this some thoughts I've come up with, what say you.
 

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rlist

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The nebari sucks. It is beyond repair. Stop what you are doing and immediately send the tree to me. You cannot be associated with a tree of this caliber...

Seriously, I only have two comments - constructive and helpful, or not. First, I honestly can't tell from the pics what you are attempting to show. I know what you are saying and I get the gist of the hilighted sections, but I can't really see it. Is it me? Maybe we can get some bigger pics? Maybe someone will tell me I need glasses.

Second, with collected trees I think it is take it or leave it. I have had long conversations with Randy Knight, Walter, Boon, Hagedorn, Gary Wood, and others about just this... And your options are a few. You take it or leave it, you hide it by burying deep/a rock/or plants (ferns, sedulum, etc), or you graft. For instance with Ponderosa you can graft JBP and work to a stronger root stock and improve nebari. With spruce (this is black hills, right?) I am not sure if grafting is an appropriate solution. So...

I hope someone has some better solutions than I do. Ferns do nothing for this great tree...
 

Tachigi

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The nebari sucks. It is beyond repair. Stop what you are doing and immediately send the tree to me. You cannot be associated with a tree of this caliber...
LOL....

To start its a Colo. Blue and second I'll redo the pic. So my guess is you voted A across the board. Which is cool I guess and I see your point. I just don't understand why a person has to leave a yamadori alone when it can be improved just like any other stock. I think in this case at the minimum something needs to happen to the tail just from a potting point of view. Nope no ferns here maybe a big carved hunk of lava or feather rock ;)
 

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Hi Tom,

My answers would be c,b,b

The first two options still leave other option if the roots do not grow for any reason, nut if they take well, the improvement will be great.

Fantastic tree, I love seeing good, solid material like this as it inspires me and raises the bar.
 

Rick Moquin

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As Rich I would like to see a better picture. Pic one needs to be larger (as large as the site will permit) Is there growth coming off the dragon's tail? or is it just a root? If there is growth there, I think I may have a suggestion for you.

Edit: Tom can you give us some dimensions for perspective? e.g box size etc...
 
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bretts

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photo host and post url would be the best detail possible
 

agraham

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This may be a stupid suggestion because I don't know the requirements of spruce,but here goes.........can you just plant it deeper?The "aerial root" and root off of the dragon's tail look to be at a similar level.It doesn't look like you would lose much of the trunk base by doing this either.The trunk and branches are very nice on this tree...but it could be planted in a slightly oversized pot in order to keep and accentuate the deadwood on the "dragon's tail".

andy
 
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I would have to agree with Andy. If you could "wean" the tree off of the aerial root, that'd be a good thing, but you should plant it low enough for the "dragon's tail" to seem to rise out of the soil surface. Over time you can reduce the bottom roots and reduce the depth of the pot you will need. I do not see your dragon's tail as being a flaw in this tree. It is a point of interest.

I won't tell you to send the tree to me. I will, however, offer to purchase it from you. I think you have the makings of a world-class tree there.
 

rlist

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Hey, now we're cookin' with gas!

Ok, this is an interesting situation. I think we can all make recommendations, but when it is said and done, until I had my fingers in fondling the roots, I wouldn't be comfortable pointing in a specific direction. I say that as looking at these pics, the simplest and easiest would be to pot it deeper. However, is that really possible? What do the roots do below the surface?

I am not sure that you would get this tree to ground layer successfully. Even if you could, it would be so long before the roots approached the correct size and bark up, that it might not even be practical. I go back to burying it deeper, and maybe trying to induce roots in a few places, but leave yourself in a position to keep the tail as is (no splitting live vein from dead wood).

For #2, same as above.

As for #3, I would just cut that guy off. If you have enough roots elsewhere, I would do it sooner than later to allow for the rest of the roots to take up the slack - instead of waiting until a repotting.

So, A/C, A/B, B. Not A, A, A...

Note, that I did'nt mean to leave it alone, I just meant that you are limited in what hands you can make with the cards you are dealt, and sometimes you have to make do. This tree is a perfect example - it is not a field grown trident that needs a couple roots grafted in and then in 3 years it will have perfect roots. On the contrary, to graft roots on this and make them convicing (look at the great bark on this tree and try and duplicate that in your garden)... Well, I guess Taylor will get to finish working the nebari of this tree...

Also, if we have a good pic of the entire tree we can finish the virt, but this is the gist of the planting. I think it is plausible...
 
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Rick Moquin

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Tom,

That was much clearer, but now seing that there is no foliage on the dragons tail as I had originally thought, I am sort of clueless. Am I right to assume that the box is contructed with 2x6?

You could pot up deeper as suggested or disguise the height with the judicious choice of rocks, making the tree and landscape one. As if this tree is growing through a barren landscape so to speak.

A further recommendation would be to e-mail Robert Steven and see if he can't offer you some insight. I can see where to go, but not how to achieve it convincingly. This tree has tremendous potential as you know, you just need to find a plausible solution.

As Chris stated, the dragon's tail makes it rather unique it its own way. You may even wish to call this tree the dragon's tail in the future. Perhaps working with the tree vice fighting it.
 

Tachigi

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Wow ... great input thanks!
Ok, The fast majority of you seem to think putting it in a deeper pot is the way to go. Which is something I contemplated. I did put the idea on a back burner more as a last resort option. This is the reason why. The root mass is about 3 inches thick, for the most part all fine feeders. The distance between the soil line and the bottom of the dragons tail is another 2 inches. So were up to 5inches of depth add another inch for soil in the bottom of the pot. So I need a pot somewhere between 5 and 6 inches.

My worry is that the pot will overwhelm the tree. Being a focal point instead of a enhancement to the tree. I did two virts from your suggestions with a pot from my web site that is pretty much in scale with the tree. The pot is 18 x 13.75 x 6.25. What do you think, does the scale virt change your mind, to overwhelming?

The first two options still leave other option if the roots do not grow for any reason, nut if they take well, the improvement will be great.
Hi Will, options are a good thing if things go awry.

This may be a stupid suggestion because I don't know the requirements of spruce, but here goes.........can you just plant it deeper?The "aerial root" and root off of the dragon's tail look to be at a similar level.
Hey Andy, Not a stupid question. I asked the same when I started contemplating what it would be like when done. My experience is that spruce like it a wee bit deeper so they can keep there roots cool. The aerial root is actually about 2.5 inches higher than the tail so you would really have to crank the tree over into a new position.

If you could "wean" the tree off of the aerial root, that'd be a good thing, but you should plant it low enough for the "dragon's tail" to seem to rise out of the soil surface. Over time you can reduce the bottom roots and reduce the depth of the pot you will need. I do not see your dragon's tail as being a flaw in this tree. It is a point of interest.
I won't tell you to send the tree to me. I will, however, offer to purchase it from you. I think you have the makings of a world-class tree there.
Thanks Chris for the offer, I think I am going to hang on to this one for a little while longer. I know I'm in the business of selling trees but there are some exceptions to the rules. :) I like your idea about the tail coming up out of the ground. Your right it is a point of interest and maybe that will break up the flat horizontal plain so that it enhances it. Weening the aerial is a very good option.

until I had my fingers in fondling the roots
Rich, You lecherous tree pervert:)

As for #3, I would just cut that guy off. If you have enough roots elsewhere, I would do it sooner than later to allow for the rest of the roots to take up the slack - instead of waiting until a repotting.
Another vote for aerial removal but now instead of later. I am a little leary about taking off a large root in one feel swoop. Since with this bark it is really hard to determine what this vein feeds, and what else supports it. I think I would opt for Chris's course of action and ween it off. I have had a bad experiences with whacking of something, then closing my eyes and praying.
Your analogy of playing the hand your dealt is a good one. I'm just taking the opportunity to make sure that I'm playing the hand right. There is more than one way to play any hand that is dealt.
I guess Taylor will get to finish working the nebari of this tree...
WOW.... you make it sound like I have one foot in the grave;) Unfortunately your probably right about Taylor finishing this.

Perhaps working with the tree vice fighting it.
Thanks for the comments Rick, good advise. However I prefer to think I'm negotiating instead of fighting:)
 

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Dale Cochoy

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Tom,

"Another vote for aerial removal but now instead of later. I am a little leary about taking off a large root in one feel swoop. Since with this bark it is really hard to determine what this vein feeds, and what else supports it. I think I would opt for Chris's course of action and ween it off. I have had a bad experiences with whacking of something, then closing my eyes and praying.
Your analogy of playing the hand your dealt is a good one. I'm just taking the opportunity to make sure that I'm playing the hand right. There is more than one way to play any hand that is dealt."

I agree. I OFTEN tell folks, "You get what you get".
Is it POSSIBLE to bend that root over nearer the trunk?

I understand your consideration of the effects of removing a root like this not knowing it's overall effect on the tree, but, if the other roots of the tree are in good condition I MIGHT be tempted to do what I often preach...." Do the worst stuff first"!

then again....

I myself could live with the root if I thought I might lose the tree by removing it!

Ha! I know...I know! I didn't help one bit!

What did Colin say to do with it during his visits?
Dale
 
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Tachigi

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What did Colin say to do with it during his visits?
Hiya Dale, He was against putting it lower in the pot. Thought the base would lose to much detail. He was for separating the live wood from the dead wood on the tail and turning it down at about a 40 degree angle. This was the aggressive approach. The kinder gentler was to make a soil dam from area 2 back through 1 and try and induce roots. I think the jury was out for him on the aerial root. He thought it gave a degree of character but wouldn't voice an opinion to keep it or not.
 

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The one thing I have found in the last two years in working over collected stock is that when a place in the trunk becomes undercut or sunken, it is because most root activity in the area has ceased to function. The larger branch stub above your #2 arrow is a tell tale sign that the last possible chance of activity was removed from that part of the trunk. Getting roots to grow from a place on a trunk with no branches above it is pretty much out of the question.

Just following a possible life line up the front of the trunk shows no sign of branches in those areas. Grafting in a sacrifice branch in the area just above where you want roots would help in inducing roots in the portion of the trunk devoid. Of course if you cut off the sacrifice branch later, the roots would probably go away over time again. It needs life above to keep life below.

The tree is awesome though. One of the best trunk lines I have seen posted in recent years. Neat and compact. Very powerful image. My kind of tree.

ak
 

Tachigi

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I agree. I OFTEN tell folks, "You get what you get".
Is it POSSIBLE to bend that root over nearer the trunk?

I understand your consideration of the effects of removing a root like this not knowing it's overall effect on the tree, but, if the other roots of the tree are in good condition I MIGHT be tempted to do what I often preach...." Do the worst stuff first"!

then again....
Dale it is possible to move the root closer to the trunk at the next repot. In fact I was considering approach grafting it to the chest of the "Dragon". That is to graft the length of the root to the trunk. Up side would be more girth and a more muscled front. The down side is that if the graft fails I would be left with one hell of a scar.
I think if I remove it a slow strangulation of the root would be best. It would be obvious what it feeds after a relatively short period of time if that root wasn't supported by another source. It would "I Think" give you the option to back off on the removal without to much detrimental damage.
I agree with what you teach/preach :) and that is do the worst stuff first. However there is times the saying"when fools rush in"comes into play. Thanks for the comments Dale something to think about.
 
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Tachigi

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Al thanks for the comments. You maybe right about that. However there is a possibility that since a tree's nature is to compartmentalize when injured that it found another route to a branch above from that area. I think that the large branch stub above the number two arrow was feed by what is now the dead wood of the tail. The live root below that area I believe sustains the area to the left of that that root. Obviously a lot of this is speculation, due to the fact that the dead areas in question died off way, way, way before my time.
So I would ask you with what you stated are you a proponent of sinking it deeper in a pot and leaving it be for the most part?
 

rlist

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The one thing I have found in the last two years in working over collected stock is that when a place in the trunk becomes undercut or sunken, it is because most root activity in the area has ceased to function. The larger branch stub above your #2 arrow is a tell tale sign that the last possible chance of activity was removed from that part of the trunk. Getting roots to grow from a place on a trunk with no branches above it is pretty much out of the question.

Just following a possible life line up the front of the trunk shows no sign of branches in those areas. Grafting in a sacrifice branch in the area just above where you want roots would help in inducing roots in the portion of the trunk devoid. Of course if you cut off the sacrifice branch later, the roots would probably go away over time again. It needs life above to keep life below.

ak

Isn't this more true with junipers, which I believe you mostly work with, as opposed to pine and spruce which tend to seal off around the dead area and continue to have activity on the trunk there?
 

Dale Cochoy

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Dale it is possible to move the root closer to the trunk at the next repot. In fact I was considering approach grafting it to the chest of the "Dragon". That is to graft the length of the root to the trunk. Up side would be more girth and a more muscled front. The down side is that if the graft fails I would be left with one hell of a scar.
.
Tom,
I wouldn't try the approach graft on this old bonsai. I think thats a real "iffy" solution. But, if movable as you say, how about a couple cable ties with tubing over them that are slowly tightened until the root is next to the trunk? In fact, if root ball is not too tight you might be able to just keep excavating the soil between the root and trunk as you slowly move it over. In the end, if you don't like how it looks when done you can maybe get a better opinion of it'd removal at the next repotting after you scrutinize the root situation better.

Dale
 

Smoke

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Isn't this more true with junipers, which I believe you mostly work with, as opposed to pine and spruce which tend to seal off around the dead area and continue to have activity on the trunk there?
All Plants compartmentilize when they are wounded. Yes they find new paths to sustain life, but over time, ( and this maybe decades, or even a few decades) they die back below when not sustained above. So in ones bonsai life, maybe 20 years, longer or shorter depending on when you start, a tree with a fresly cut off branch may show no signs of reduced life in ones bonsai career.

Now if you start with a pine that may be 200 years old and has had a branch dead for 50 years, its a safe bet that the root system under that lifeless area is going to die back. That is what gives us wonderful lifelines to accentuate even on pines. If areas did not die due to reduced nuorishment of nonexistant branches, it would have no reason to naturaly shari. A tree with a 40 to 50 year old shari will not have any roots under the trunk on that side. Why should it, there is nothing there to help out with the exchange. We know this to happen in pines all the time. Borers do vast amounts of damage to pines and weakness kills vast root systems forcing the trees to seek life in other ways, hence sending out the root from the trunk.

As far as making a comment about the tree and its placement in a pot or whether I would remove a root such as that, I would only make such statements after an evaluation of the tree firsthand. I would want to see the engine down below before I said anything about what I would do. I can tell you this, I can envision a wonderful canopy on this tree and it is good!

Edit: sorry I wasn't clear. My position would be that I would want it gone if possible, the root that is. That trunk is way to beautiful to bury.

ak
 
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