Is there any hope for this ugly duckling olive? All suggestions welcome.

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I have an olive which is downright ugly, but I cannot bring myself to ditch it. Here it is:

20200830_07_bonsai_olive_09.jpeg

Resigned to the fact that it will never be a beautiful swan, I reckon that I have 2 options:
  1. Grow out the branching and foliage to hide the trunks.
  2. Remove the right trunk entirely and chop off most of the left trunk to grow an apex at a much lower point (plus carving). See the chop points below.
20200830_07_bonsai_olive_09b.jpg

Does anyone more creative than me see other alternatives? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 

BobbyLane

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i think it could be more dynamic and interesting by removing the straight left trunk. then build a canopy moving to the right, maybe even a dipping cascading branch. wouldnt chop flush to my white line though, i would first chop the stump to around and 1-2 inches to see if a deadwood feature can be made to look good, if not i would nibble away the rest of the stump with knob cutters and analyse the image as i get nearer to the virt. the virt might be the best outcome. but it will look unnatural if you chop flush with a saw, if you do chop flush you can concave the cut to look more natural, but i wouldnt concave right away as you would be going very deep into the cut, but it would be ok after the tree has adjusted from the low chop to concave a flush chop if you understand?



20200830_07_bonsai_olive_09.jpeg


if you leave a bit of a stump you can then carve it like this, leave a bit of a ridge
20190118_130206 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr
IMG_2002 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr
 
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i think it could be more dynamic and interesting by removing the straight left trunk. then build a canopy moving to the right, maybe even a dipping cascading branch. wouldnt chop flush to my white line though, i would first chop the stump to around and 1-2 inches to see if a deadwood feature can be made to look good, if not i would nibble away the rest of the stump with knob cutters and analyse the image as i get nearer to the virt. the virt might be the best outcome. but it will look unnatural if you chop flush with a saw, if you do chop flush you can concave the cut to look more natural, but i wouldnt concave right away as you would be going very deep into the cut, but it would be ok after the tree has adjusted from the low chop to concave a flush chop if you understand?

Incredible. I have looked at this tree so many times wondering what I could do, yet never once did I consider removing the left trunk. This is so helpful.

Many thanks also for the practical advice on how to reduce/remove the left trunk, and the very helpful pictures.
 

BobbyLane

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you'll get a good growth spurt and likely lots of back budding in the right trunk too after removing the left. looking again i think you will get cleaner lines with the virt rather than the carving option. i dont think this tree needs a carving feature, but maybe down the line you could make a shallow uro where the trunk was.
 
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you'll get a good growth spurt and likely lots of back budding in the right trunk too after removing the left.
I'll update here with the progress. I assume spring would be the best time to do this?
 

Tieball

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i think it could be more dynamic and interesting by removing the straight left trunk. then build a canopy moving to the right, maybe even a dipping cascading branch. wouldnt chop flush to my white line though, i would first chop the stump to around and 1-2 inches to see if a deadwood feature can be made to look good, if not i would nibble away the rest of the stump with knob cutters and analyse the image as i get nearer to the virt. the virt might be the best outcome. but it will look unnatural if you chop flush with a saw, if you do chop flush you can concave the cut to look more natural, but i wouldnt concave right away as you would be going very deep into the cut, but it would be ok after the tree has adjusted from the low chop to concave a flush chop if you understand?



View attachment 337716


if you leave a bit of a stump you can then carve it like this, leave a bit of a ridge
20190118_130206 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr
IMG_2002 by Bobby Lane, on Flickr
@BobbyLane ....Keeping that right side and growing the angle is an outstanding suggestion. Excellent creative eye. Mighty fine!
 

Shibui

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That leaning right side was my first option too. Upright trunk is way too straight and boring for an olive. Right trunk has movement and character. Definitely leave some dead trunk. Old olives often have dead parts but as you are in Italy I guess I am not telling you anything new.
I think you could develop either windswept look (nearly all branches grow in the direction of the trunk)or a tree high on a steep hill leaning out over the valley below (possible to use more branches growing back over the base)
Olives can be worked any time in Mediterranean climate as mentioned.
 
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If you chop it in spring, you can take the straight chopped off section and take it as a cutting.
I was wondering about that. I've read here that olive branches of all sizes will root, but I've never tried it myself. I shall put it to the test. Thanks!
 
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I think you could develop either windswept look (nearly all branches grow in the direction of the trunk)or a tree high on a steep hill leaning out over the valley below (possible to use more branches growing back over the base)
The shape would definitely lend itself to a windswept style, although I'm not sure how typical a windswept shape would be for an olive. The tree growing out of a steep hill I can definitely see. It's great to mull over the possibilities that only a few hours ago seemed non-existent. Thanks!
 
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Ya got two trees there, which is four times better than continuing ugly. Carefully wash the root system and divvy up the roots...
Wow! This is incredible. I was staring at a tree and saw no possibilities at all, but @BobbyLane and yourself have both given me suggestions that are infinitely better than what I had.

Many thanks for this, and also for taking the time in Photoshop (or similar) to build the pictures. Really appreciated.
 

leatherback

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Wow! This is incredible.
Keep in mind that the nebari on these will not work the way depicted. You will have a massive chop on both trees and if roots do form they will be along the lower edge of the bark, high above the roots already in place.

@BobbyLane showed a more realistic option, imho.
 
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Keep in mind that the nebari on these will not work the way depicted. You will have a massive chop on both trees and if roots do form they will be along the lower edge of the bark, high above the roots already in place.
Yes, that's true. The good news is that I have two options that are better than what I have presently. I guess I'll be waiting for spring in any case, as with @BobbyLane's suggestion I would have a shot at rooting the left trunk as a cutting (as you suggested) and with @Forsoothe!'s suggestion it would be a double repot.

Thanks again.
 

Dav4

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Personally, I'd try to keep both trunks for now. The left upright trunk is too straight... but you could carve much movement and interest into it while trying to coax a new leader from lower down on the trunk and to the right. If the results aren't good enough after a few years, then go with the right trunk and remove/carve up the rest of the upright trunk.
 
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Personally, I'd try to keep both trunks for now. The left upright trunk is too straight... but you could carve much movement and interest into it while trying to coax a new leader from lower down on the trunk and to the right. If the results aren't good enough after a few years, then go with the right trunk and remove/carve up the rest of the upright trunk.
Yet another option. Thank you for this. It might be an idea for me to sketch a few pictures to compare what each option might turn out like.
 

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