My Bristlecone Pine project

Canonfodder

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I found this beautiful Bristlecone pine tree today at my local nursery. The moment I set my eyes on it I knew I had to get it.
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Now I just need to figure out what kind of pot to put it in, how to clean it up and the best way to shape it to resemble the vision I have for it. Would love to hear y’all’s thoughts.
 

Woocash

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I found this beautiful Bristlecone pine tree today at my local nursery. The moment I set my eyes on it I knew I had to get it.
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Now I just need to figure out what kind of pot to put it in, how to clean it up and the best way to shape it to resemble the vision I have for it. Would love to hear y’all’s thoughts.
A bristlecone is always going to conjure up romantic emotions in tree lovers. I’d love one my self but I reckon they’re rare as rocking horse poo over here.

Really, I suppose, it’s a standard nursery type pine tree in form so it’s kind of difficult to make any suggestions. Why don’t you explain your vision then people will much easier be able to offer advice to get there 🙂
 

Canonfodder

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A bristlecone is always going to conjure up romantic emotions in tree lovers. I’d love one my self but I reckon they’re rare as rocking horse poo over here.

Really, I suppose, it’s a standard nursery type pine tree in form so it’s kind of difficult to make any suggestions. Why don’t you explain your vision then people will much easier be able to offer advice to get there 🙂
I’m thinking of doing a wind swept look. There is an area that doesn’t have a lot of branches so I was thinking of keeping that empty splitting the pine needle area in two. Sorry it’s kind of hard to clearly explain what’s in my head lol.
 

Woocash

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I’m thinking of doing a wind swept look. There is an area that doesn’t have a lot of branches so I was thinking of keeping that empty splitting the pine needle area in two. Sorry it’s kind of hard to clearly explain what’s in my head lol.
Interesting. Maybe have a go at drawing what you’re thinking or are there any pictures of trees you’ve seen that are your inspiration?
 

BobbyLane

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we dont see much on this side of the pond but ive always envisioned these to have large areas of deadwood, gnarly contorted trunks. its going to be hard to get thoughts without first assessing the trunk and nebari. we would love to see the 'vision' you have for it.
 

Canonfodder

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I suck at drawing lol. But I have hopefully found an image close to what I’m thinking.
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I also remembered these rocks that are outside my parents house. I possibly might also consider doing root-over-rock to help stabilize the tree.
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sorce

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they’re rare as rocking horse poo over here.

I had to make sure this wasn't @Vance Wood !
Lol.

Better pics?

It seems that root is coming up from a turn back around.

Best to see what you're really working with.

You're better off attempting to use standard pine growing out techniques for this rather than falling victim to trying to use what is present.

Especially since you have low branches.

You are where these should be happy.

I won't find a western diamondback rattlesnake here any faster than I'd find a Bristlecone Pine.

This being one of those that will die if you bring it to Florida, means thinking it's delicate it your elevation will be detrimental to it's righteous progress.

Sorce
 

ShadyStump

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Good Luck they're difficult trees easy to kill by over-watering, under-watering and looking at them the wrong way.
Could be worse. Could be a pinion. LoL

@Canonfodder, mindset is the issue I think you're having. Try describing it with a different starting point to the tree's story.
I feel like what you're looking for is this; we say, "literati," and think of a tree fighting to find the sun. What if a literati was fighting AGAINST some element, like air?
Is that close to what you had in mind?

Just trying to help the creative thought process.
 

Potawatomi13

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Needs to be in grow box, large nursery growing container to develop trunk for many years. Looks to have fallen over in pot. Roots may be damaged. Needs repot without removing soil from roots to strengthen/recover from this. Study of Bristlecone growing habits much needed. Can you subscribe to Mirai Live and watch all Bristlecone videos there? Obtain Bristlecone book by Lanner learn respect/gain understanding how different these are from other trees. Also watch free videos online of Great Basin Natl Park Bristlecones.
 

Canonfodder

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Though I haven’t given up on this tree, I am getting the sense that I made a rookie mistake with it. Yes, when I found the tree it was laying on its side with the pot tipped over and it was in an area where there were larger trees around it. Watching some of the videos about the species, it seems that for it to get the “typical” look, some of it has to die off. Plus it’ll be years even possibly decades before I can really start the artistry of the project. The lady at the nursery explained that I need a moisture meter and not to give it any water until the soil at the lowest point is completely dry. Basically she said she waters hers once a season. I’ll keep researching the species as I have also started one from seed.
 

Forsoothe!

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It's too big by twice. Where are you going to top it, and what do you envision as deadwood terminus?
 

Forsoothe!

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Make sure you understand the tree and have a feeling for it before you go chopping on it and tearing into the roots.
But the man with a very tall Blue Spruce has not come to the conclusion that the stock it too tall to style, as is?
 

Forsoothe!

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People often see stock that has a beautiful shape and want to use it, but forget that what we do is imitate nature and make things that look like that, -in scale. When we see one that is 50 feet tall in the landscape we can't use it and we know that. But when we see it in a nursery pot we forget what we do, make things in scale. The stock is too big as is, so the conversation has to back up and find a usable top limit and discuss what to do with the trunk to blend it into the desired design. The limitations of the species needs to be addressed, too, by those who know them.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Canonfodder - Bristlecone are notorious for being difficult to grow in climates away from their native habitats. Broomfield CO is a suburb of Denver, so you are somewhere near 5000 foot elevation. That's good. Bristlecone do not adapt well to low elevation climates, at least you are within 4000 feet of its native elevation. They are only common above 9000 feet.

I believe you may need to water somewhat more often than the woman at the nursery implied, but you should indeed allow the tree to get dry for a day or two between watering.

If that tree were in my backyard, my first and only task for this year would be to repot to a shallow, wide training container. It should hold at least as much media as the original. Either a home made wooden training box or perhaps a cut down plastic 55 gallon drum or a large nursery pot cut down. The width should be at least 20 or more inches in diameter. The depth should be not much more than 5 inches.

When you repot, do not remove roots if you can help it. Tease them out, arrange them in a wide radial pattern. Long roots fold under the root mass. Then anchor, or tie down the tree into the pot so that there is no "wiggle". You want the tree solidly tied into the training pot.

The media you use should be mostly pumice based. Sift to remove fines. You want a mix that is open, with good air void. Add about 2 tablespoons (roughly 30 mil by volume, roughly a shot glass full) of crushed oyster shell or pelletized horticultural lime per gallon volume of potting media. Bristlecone come from dolomite derived "soils" though the soil is more rocky scree than "dirt". Where there is no limestone, limber pine dominates. Where you have limestone at high elevation, you get bristlecone.

When flattening out the root system, do not remove all the nursery soil. It is okay if some of the old nursery media (usually composted bark) will adhere to the roots. It is okay to leave that. Just work the pumice based mix you use in to fill the voids created by flattening out the roots.

Set the new training pot on slats, rocks or a bench to allow air to get under the pot. This will help keep the lower part of the root ball well aerated.

Build a brace, scaffold or some structure to prevent the tree from being toppled over again in the high winds you get in Colorado. Even a "tomato cage" might work.

Good luck.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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electronic water meters are notoriously bad pieces of electronic crap. They will lead you astray. Your finger and your eyes are the best measures of water content. Look at the color of media visible through the bottom drain holes to see if it is moist at the bottom or not. With my azalea, I look at the bottom, and when I see the color change in the media, I know it is time to water.

Also, allow a select few weeds to grow in your training pot. When they wilt, it is certainly time to water. THey can serve as indicators.
 

Mike Corazzi

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Good Luck they're difficult trees easy to kill by over-watering, under-watering and looking at them the wrong way.

Agree. We once had a fairly large nursery with its own growing grounds and a ....decent but not comprehensive... stock of pots, etc.
They got one in that was small. It didn't live long. Nothing seemed to please it.

The romance of 6000 year old trees can seduce some desire that isn't going to happen.
 

Forsoothe!

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electronic water meters are notoriously bad pieces of electronic crap. They will lead you astray. Your finger and your eyes are the best measures of water content. Look at the color of media visible through the bottom drain holes to see if it is moist at the bottom or not. With my azalea, I look at the bottom, and when I see the color change in the media, I know it is time to water.

Also, allow a select few weeds to grow in your training pot. When they wilt, it is certainly time to water. They can serve as indicators.
That's a useful concept that bears repeating.
 
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