Dwarf Alberta Spruce “I can feel the hate inside you”.

Arcto

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No I’m not trying to pick a fight. Dwarf Alberta Spruce (DAS) has a reputation of being uncooperative in bonsai culture. So a lot of people just don’t want to mess with it. I found this one in a sale bed at a nursery and was attracted by the base and the fact it was a double trunk. Couldn’t see much more than that. My first misgivings were when they brought it out on a Dingo loader and stuffed it into the back of my Element. Drove home with the back of the car down on the rear axle. Wrestled it into a loader bucket to start the root reduction.
8882E354-AA8A-4737-8385-5A5F52FF7D31.jpeg Potted up in the biggest mica drum pot I had. Roots had abandoned the original field soil to colonize the fir bark in the original pot so I was able to reduce it pretty aggressively. 9AA18E7C-895D-485D-A2DA-9CF8995815AA.jpeg This had originally been sheared as a spiral topiary. Note the gaps in the foliage.B4B94C9E-A15E-451C-A759-4F86A5E81E09.jpeg This last spring it was potted in an almost antique mica pot 😛 and all original field soil replaced. It responded well so I brought it in for a first style. I lopped off a few lower branches before remembering to take a before pic.03812C06-2EC6-473A-A0F8-079FCE706956.jpeg The tree had some flaws. Reverse taper at some old whorls and big sections lacking branches because of the topiary pruning. 23AD87AC-FF5A-4575-AA60-F57346CABEAD.jpeg First style done. That’s all for now. Have other trees waiting. 1AB44E5C-7F2D-4A8C-830C-4CEF2C480B15.jpeg Back out on bench enjoying the sunshine, here is the back side of the tree. F5A3094F-9261-4BC3-B4DE-176BF788BCB7.jpeg Next year I’ll be working on the pads, deadwood at the top and Shari. Comments always welcome.
 

wireme

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No I’m not trying to pick a fight. Dwarf Alberta Spruce (DAS) has a reputation of being uncooperative in bonsai culture. So a lot of people just don’t want to mess with it. I found this one in a sale bed at a nursery and was attracted by the base and the fact it was a double trunk. Couldn’t see much more than that. My first misgivings were when they brought it out on a Dingo loader and stuffed it into the back of my Element. Drove home with the back of the car down on the rear axle. Wrestled it into a loader bucket to start the root reduction.
View attachment 259329 Potted up in the biggest mica drum pot I had. Roots had abandoned the original field soil to colonize the fir bark in the original pot so I was able to reduce it pretty aggressively. View attachment 259330 This had originally been sheared as a spiral topiary. Note the gaps in the foliage.View attachment 259331 This last spring it was potted in an almost antique mica pot 😛 and all original field soil replaced. It responded well so I brought it in for a first style. I lopped off a few lower branches before remembering to take a before pic.View attachment 259332 The tree had some flaws. Reverse taper at some old whorls and big sections lacking branches because of the topiary pruning. View attachment 259333 First style done. That’s all for now. Have other trees waiting. View attachment 259335 Back out on bench enjoying the sunshine, here is the back side of the tree. View attachment 259334 Next year I’ll be working on the pads, deadwood at the top and Shari. Comments always welcome.
Thanks for posting, I’ll be interested to watch. I’ve long wanted to try working a DAS. Whatever the drawbacks of the species are there is lots of material with good starting bones available out there in nurso it seems worth a try!
Looks good, nice design, the flaws you mentioned appear to be well dealt with. The view from my couch does look like pruning may have been a little heavy handed. Health wise I think I woulda taken it slower but I hope it responds well.
 

PiñonJ

Omono
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No I’m not trying to pick a fight. Dwarf Alberta Spruce (DAS) has a reputation of being uncooperative in bonsai culture. So a lot of people just don’t want to mess with it. I found this one in a sale bed at a nursery and was attracted by the base and the fact it was a double trunk. Couldn’t see much more than that. My first misgivings were when they brought it out on a Dingo loader and stuffed it into the back of my Element. Drove home with the back of the car down on the rear axle. Wrestled it into a loader bucket to start the root reduction.
View attachment 259329 Potted up in the biggest mica drum pot I had. Roots had abandoned the original field soil to colonize the fir bark in the original pot so I was able to reduce it pretty aggressively. View attachment 259330 This had originally been sheared as a spiral topiary. Note the gaps in the foliage.View attachment 259331 This last spring it was potted in an almost antique mica pot 😛 and all original field soil replaced. It responded well so I brought it in for a first style. I lopped off a few lower branches before remembering to take a before pic.View attachment 259332 The tree had some flaws. Reverse taper at some old whorls and big sections lacking branches because of the topiary pruning. View attachment 259333 First style done. That’s all for now. Have other trees waiting. View attachment 259335 Back out on bench enjoying the sunshine, here is the back side of the tree. View attachment 259334 Next year I’ll be working on the pads, deadwood at the top and Shari. Comments always welcome.
Good start! I thought the argument against dwarfs was that they grow so slowly. You’ve largely solved that by choosing a hernia-maker, but I suppose new growth and ramification may be slow. Looks like you’ve still got some detail wiring to do!😝
 

kouyou

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@Arcto nice set up! Is that the palram snap and grow greenhouse? If so, can i please ask if you might want to share any thoughts on it?

if not, can i please ask what it is and whether you’re happy with it?
 

Arcto

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Thanks for posting, I’ll be interested to watch. I’ve long wanted to try working a DAS. Whatever the drawbacks of the species are there is lots of material with good starting bones available out there in nurso it seems worth a try!
Looks good, nice design, the flaws you mentioned appear to be well dealt with. The view from my couch does look like pruning may have been a little heavy handed. Health wise I think I woulda taken it slower but I hope it responds well.
Thanks. Normally I just walk by DAS, but this one drew me in. It’s a little deceptive because a lot of foliage had already been removed by the growers pruning. But yes, I was pretty aggressive.
 

Arcto

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Good start! I thought the argument against dwarfs was that they grow so slowly. You’ve largely solved that by choosing a hernia-maker, but I suppose new growth and ramification may be slow. Looks like you’ve still got some detail wiring to do!😝
Hernia maker...yeah, I gotta quite solving my problems this way! 😜. There is a little back budding on a few branches that were opened up by the topiary pruning. A JBP it is not. Holding off detail until next year. Wanting to see how it responds.
 

Arcto

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@Arcto nice set up! Is that the palram snap and grow greenhouse? If so, can i please ask if you might want to share any thoughts on it?

if not, can i please ask what it is and whether you’re happy with it?
It’s not a Palram. Bought it locally from Jungle Janes Greenhouses. An employee from them came out, spent an hour reading the assembly instructions, then 3 days to assemble. He had already assembled a dozen of them! I wanted doors at each end. Ended up buying 2 small ones and having them put back to back with the rear walls removed. It’s a good sturdy unit that I really like. Really wanted power run to it, but had already maxed the budget.
 

Potawatomi13

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Huh? I would have thought the tree lay in the bottom mass of foliage minus the rest of tree:confused:.
 

sorce

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I feel like the tree is happier now than before.

Much more proud with an old growth stance, rather than that bikini'd chubby woman front yard look.

You may have taken off a lot of Needle but you free'd it.

Reckon you have enough in that trunk to sustain it's regeneration.

Nice.

Sorce
 

Arcto

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Huh? I would have thought the tree lay in the bottom mass of foliage minus the rest of tree:confused:.
Ah... a different direction I didn’t consider. I was pushing for an old growth approach. Acquired it in 2016. Broke the top off the main trunk that winter when it was -20F to get a natural break like you see in most old growth. Right now the tree stands 43” tall with a 5” base. If it dies back a lot, I may be visiting your thoughts again.
 

Arcto

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I feel like the tree is happier now than before.

Much more proud with an old growth stance, rather than that bikini'd chubby woman front yard look.

You may have taken off a lot of Needle but you free'd it.

Reckon you have enough in that trunk to sustain it's regeneration.

Nice.

Sorce
Glad to hear that you see the old growth direction I’m attempting. 🙂
 

Arcto

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The nice thing about DAS is it teaches you humility. You can do your best wiring job and 6 months after you remove the wire it is right back where it was. I named my tree Stretch Armstrong.
If it doesn’t croak, I’ll make it a bonsai or go broke buying copper wire to reshape it!
 

Potawatomi13

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Ah... a different direction I didn’t consider. I was pushing for an old growth approach. Acquired it in 2016. Broke the top off the main trunk that winter when it was -20F to get a natural break like you see in most old growth. Right now the tree stands 43” tall with a 5” base. If it dies back a lot, I may be visiting your thoughts again.
Actually like what you did with it. Just didn't see it in original uninspiring nursery tree:confused:. Hope it is surviving.
 

Arcto

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@Arcto How did this tree make it through winter?
It came through fine. A little later start than a few of my spruces, but here is the new growth pushing. The plan for now is to let the unmolested root system push the growth all summer. No pinching. Late summer-early fall reevaluate what the next step is. Since you now live in Bend, I’ll tell you that I bought this tree at Eastside Gardens. It was an end of season sale and the tree was way in the back lot. They had a number of big DAS pruned in that spiral topiary fashion.

03162EE8-1D85-49AE-80D8-3873BB892326.jpeg
 
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