Korean Fir

Alex DeRuiter

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Hello,

This is a tree I also posted on the BonsaiSite forums. I was wondering if anyone could give suggestions in regards to styling, more specifically in regards to what I should do to accomplish the style. I'm going for an informal upright, as the tree leans back a little. I could always correct this with the planting angle, but I almost like how it looks as is. Otherwise I could attempt to just go for a formal upright, but I'm not sure what to do exactly (I'm still quite new to bonsai, but I've done a good bit of research in the past two years[Never taken a class or attended a bonsai club due to my lousy schedule....second shift :(]).

Anywho, jkl pointed out the fact that there's a pretty large scar on the front of the tree, and it should be monitored closely to ensure it doesn't get infested. I don't know much about protecting scars beside cutting paste. Are there certain things I should do about this? I had considered hollowing it out eventually, but I will definitely have time to learn about that while the tree is in training.
 

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Vance Wood

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Hello,

This is a tree I also posted on the BonsaiSite forums. I was wondering if anyone could give suggestions in regards to styling, more specifically in regards to what I should do to accomplish the style. I'm going for an informal upright, as the tree leans back a little. I could always correct this with the planting angle, but I almost like how it looks as is. Otherwise I could attempt to just go for a formal upright, but I'm not sure what to do exactly (I'm still quite new to bonsai, but I've done a good bit of research in the past two years[Never taken a class or attended a bonsai club due to my lousy schedule....second shift :(]).

Anywho, jkl pointed out the fact that there's a pretty large scar on the front of the tree, and it should be monitored closely to ensure it doesn't get infested. I don't know much about protecting scars beside cutting paste. Are there certain things I should do about this? I had considered hollowing it out eventually, but I will definitely have time to learn about that while the tree is in training.

As to the Formal Upright. Of all the styles in bonsai this is one of the most difficult because in order for it to qualify as this style it must conform to a number of elements, primary of which is a perfectly straight trunk without bends or kinks. This rules out this tree for this style immediately. Informal upright is possible in any number of variants and oddities of trunk. They seem to back bud from old wood quite well and are fairly vigorous. When I find out more about how mine grows I will post what I have learned. Beautiful tree and worthy of effort.
 

treebeard55

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From your pictures, I also think informal upright (moyogi) will suit this tree best.

And I like your 4th photo: not that I think a cascade is necessarily best for this tree, but the pic shows that you're willing to think outside the box!
 

tom tynan

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There is nothing wrong with the base of this fir tree; just some flaking bark and perhaps an old scar below. No need to carve anything - unless you want to - leave it alone it adds character to the base of the tree. The bending of the lower trunk may have caused the cracking of the bark as well. There is nothing to suggest borers or other insects as well. Do not add any cut paste - it will only stain and make a sticky mess of the lower trunk. You have quite a tall tree - you will have to figure out how best to reduce the tree to complement the nice curve at the base. Good luck. Tom
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions :)

Vance, thank you for pointing that out. I suppose I'll stick with informal upright. I agree that it's worth the effort. I've seen a couple used as bonsai, but they're definitely few and far between. I was lucky to find one with needles still close-ish to the trunk. I'm looking forward to reading about what you learn about the species.

Treebeard, I was considering cascade, but it was pretty much just an afterthought since it seems so suited for informal upright. However, it does seem like it would be a decent candidate for a cascade....but I'm really not sure I'd be able to make it work given my current lack of experience. I really should try to schedule some days off this coming year so I can attend my local bonsai club, or study with a teacher.

Tom, I think it adds character as well, but I really love how hollowed trees look. I'm still unsure which would look better for this tree. I plan on chopping it pretty low -- probably the second branch up on the right side. I'm still in the process of learning how to create flow in a tree, so I'm a little uncertain how to compliment the curve...but I'll certainly try my best :D Thank you for your input.
 

Si Nguyen

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Hi Axxonn, I think your plan of chopping it down to about the 2nd branch is good. I would pick another front though. Your current favorite is a bit off due to the bulging belly look. I'd like another front on the other side, but there is possibly an ugly graft scar there. You need to uncover some more surface soil in order to assess the root spread more thoroughly. The root spread will dictate how you pick a proper front. Here's a thumbnail sketch based on the other side of the tree. It's a bit optimistic I know. Keep all lower branches after the trunk chop for now, and grow them out to make bigger jins for later, and to make sure the tree survive the drastic chop.
Good luck!
Si
 

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Alex DeRuiter

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Lol, I kind of liked his big tummy, but you have a good point. I suppose that makes hollowing unnecessary, but it might not have suited this tree well anyhow.

I really love that drawing. Do you think foliage pads like that will be attainable with this species? After looking at it for a long time I definitely agree with using this as the new front. The jin is something I definitely wanted to do as well. I don't believe there is a graft scar (vague memory of it from when I was looking at it at the nursery), but I'll have to verify this. A good time to repot this would be in late spring, correct? Same with the trunk chop? Perhaps I should do the chop this upcoming spring and then repot it the following year.
 

tanlu

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I think this is a great tree and informal upright or a slant style would both work fine. The trunk base looks cool and I wouldn't do anything to it either. Just let it age.

You could jin the apex. I suggest looking at Walter Pall's work. He has an AMAZING spruce collection, which look similar to firs, and if I'm not mistaken, have similar if not the same growth habits.

I'm also relatively new to bonsai, and I work mainly with pines, which also have their own unique growing habit that I'm still learning. Learn as much as you can about your species before you do anything. You'll be a much more informed and effective while you style it.

T
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Funny that you should mention Walter Pall -- I was just on his website a few minutes ago looking at his galleries.

You're right, being informed is really important. I've been reading up on the species but most of the information I've come across isn't too detailed. On bonsai4me he states that in regards to pruning, they're similar to the Picea species, so I've been reading more on that.

I bought the tree in haste because the nursery was closing for the winter and it was on a supersale, marked down to $50 from $180. lol -- I felt compelled to buy it before someone else did. I'm excited to get started on its development, even though a lot of it will be relying on my patience :)
 

Alex DeRuiter

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So I've got a quick update on this tree. I chopped the trunk somewhat significantly back in early March and the tree responded wonderfully -- though "wonderfully" is a relative term and I have no basis of comparison for a wodnerful response. :D

Anyway, it sprouted a ton of new growth, some stuff even close to or directly from the trunk. I took a few pictures showing this. The fourth picture down shows the new shoot coming directly from the trunk. The new growth is a bright green, but I don't think the pictures came out that well since it was in artificial light.

I'm still strongly considering Si's design as the "final" design for this tree, but I've been entertaining a couple other ideas. I've been becoming more and more interested in the "natural" styles in some bonsai, such as the trees of Walter Pall and Dan Robinson. Only thing is I'm terrible at drawing (yet continue to try) and my virts are sloppy...but I have a general idea. Even still, this might not be the approach I take anyway. Who knows at this point as the tree still has at least another five to ten years before it's even ready to be styled.

As for the nebari, I really like the second picture as the front of the tree; though it would need to be rotated slightly to avoid that root pointing directly at the viewer. I think this makes a strong and interesting front, and would also provide for some good branch placement -- depending on the style, of course.

And now the pictures:

8-3-11013.jpg

8-3-11014.jpg

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8-3-11023.jpg


Thoughts? Suggestions? :)

Oh yeah, also worth mentioning...it would appear that the scar -- or at least what looks like a scar -- on the front is just a natural shedding of the bark. This happened on the "back" of the tree as well and it appears healthy with no infestations.
 
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davetree

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Is this a grafted tree ? I have seen this variety before at nurseries and I think they are. That's why it looks old below and new above. I don't know if it makes a difference as far as bonsai or not. I know some of the grafted conifers are a bit touchy.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Honestly I don't know if it's a graft since I wasn't really looking for signs of a union. I definitely see what you mean about the transition of the bark though. Now I'm wodnering if this is a natural thing or if it's grafted...thanks for creating this insecurity! lol -- joking.

I'll check it out when I get home. If it is ineed a graft, it's well done enough to where the union -- from what I can see in these pictures and in my memory -- is barely noticeable.

As far as the touchiness of the tree, it seems to be doing just fine. It popped out a slew of new growth on every branch and from the trunk, and the needles are holding well. This being one of three conifers I own, I'm not sure what to look for in terms of what is extremely healthy/vigorous and what is just alive-but not-necessarily-doing-poorly...so again, not much basis for comparison. All that aside, from what I can tell the tree is doing very well.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Okay, so I looked a little closer at the tree this morning and it's really hard to tell if it was grafted. I mean, there's the obvious change in the texture of the bark, but I wonder if this is a natural transition with this species. There's no bulge or obvious graft scar, so I think if someone with more experience investigating these things could take a look then I could have a better answer for you.

But yeah, it does seem off that the bark changes so quickly from rough to smooth...
 

davetree

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I am pretty sure it is grafted. I have looked at these before and seen decent grafts. It doesn't make any difference to me, I have a grafted larch that looks very similar.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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I just hope that the bark will mature and look the same...I'd hate for it to have that drastic change from rough to smooth and throw off the tree. But we shall see, eh? :D
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Quick update for this tree. I just repotted it today and set it at a new angle. I think it has potential as a windswept tree, but I've done no more than study windswept style. What do you guys and gals think? If not windswept, I can see a couple other future for this tree. These pictures are only slightly different from each other, but it seems like the change in perspective yields pretty different results.

4-14-12008.jpg

4-14-12011.jpg

4-14-12014.jpg


If windswept, I was thinking of using one of those moon-shaped "earthy" pots.

Thoughts?
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Forgot to mention that this is probably the first tree I'll be doing a good amount of jin work on. Having said that, this tree probably won't be any masterpiece...but certainly a useful learning tool. :D
 

JudyB

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Should be fun. I like this little tree. I could see a cliff hanging tree here, or cascade. I find windswept to get boring after a while. I've had a couple, then got tired of them, and changed them...
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Thanks Judy =) Yeah, something about it caught my eye when I got it, but I was still so new to bonsai at that point.

Yes, cascade was another option I was considering. I definitely see your point about windswept. Of course it's all personal preference, but I see your point. I've seen some really nice windswept trees, though, and I never get sick of the ones that are well done. But that's also what worries me as I'm not sure I could pull it off.

Either way, I'll be working on pulling the foliage in a lot closer on that one long branch. Everything else is pretty close to the trunk, and it looks like there's going to be a lot of back budding.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Quick update. Did some wiring tonight -- obviously a bit rough, but I'm still working on my technique.

I think it's got a decent start. A couple virts based on its current condition, plus an awesome virt done by Dorothy (Cascade). Thanks Dorothy! :D

virt.jpg

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