my first yamadori, douglas fir

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this is my first yamadori. I've been waiting my whole life for this. I don't have a lot of experience with styling conifers but I think instinctively i want to preserve the wonderful taper that this tree naturally has. does anyone have any thoughts on douglas fir cultivation or styling??
 

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Cadillactaste

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I'm lost when it comes to seeing vision with most conifer. But would love to hear the history of this one. How did it come about landing on your bench?
 

Colorado

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Regarding Doug fir cultivation, I have found that they become very vigorous when given close to full sun. The foliage does appear to burn a bit in the heat of the summer; then I move to morning sun and dappled shade in the afternoon.

Akadama: pumice:lava soil in a 3:1:1 ratio has worked well for me in the couple years I’ve grown Doug fir.

Other than that, I don’t have enough experience with the species yet to offer much more. I have heard that pruning too late in the summer can cause the branch die-off issues that some experience with Doug fir.

I really enjoy the delicacy of the needles.

That’s a nice, elegant trunk. Have fun!
 

PiñonJ

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Your first styling move should be setting structure, which includes eliminating branches that are going to cause structural flaws. For example, where the trunk gets thinner and goes vertical before changing direction, there are bar branches. You should remove the thinner one on the inside of the curve (on the right) before it causes swelling and inverse taper. Then, there’s a small branch emerging right above the thicker one on the left. That smaller branch is of lower quality and should be removed. Next is a pair of branches emerging from the same point in the front. One of them should be removed. One of the two leaders can be reduced, removed, or jinned. Then decide on the length of your branches, reduce branchlets to alternating twos and wire it all out. Do this in spring, just as the buds are swelling. All of this assumes that the tree has good back buds and has had sufficient time to recover from its last repotting. Also, if you want to change the planting angle, do it with blocks under one side of the pot and keep it at that angle during the growing season.
 
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I'm lost when it comes to seeing vision with most conifer. But would love to hear the history of this one. How did it come about landing on your bench?
I purchased it from High Desert Bonsai. 2020 was a long and depressing year for me so I decided to buy myself a yamadori. I have been studying bonsai since 2006 so I figure I'm ready in terms of keeping it alive and well. I see a lot of design possibilities but I'm in no rush to decide.
Your first styling move should be setting structure, which includes eliminating branches that are going to cause structural flaws. For example, where the trunk gets thinner and goes vertical before changing direction, there are bar branches. You should remove the thinner one on the inside of the curve (on the right) before it causes swelling and inverse taper. Then, there’s a small branch emerging right above the thicker one on the left. That smaller branch is of lower quality and should be removed. Next is a pair of branches emerging from the same point...
because its a new tree I'll first let it just grow as I get to know it. The tree is very old. I did think about reducing the height initially. I'm not a huge fan of apical jins but I'm not ruling anything out. thanks for your input.
Regarding Doug fir cultivation, I have found that they become very vigorous when given close to full sun. The foliage does appear to burn a bit in the heat of the summer; then I move to morning sun and dappled shade in the afternoon.

Akadama: pumice:lava soil in a 3:1:1 ratio has worked well for me in the couple years I’ve grown Doug fir.

Other than that, I don’t have enough experience with the species yet to offer much more. I have heard that pruning too late in the summer can cause the branch die-off issues that some experience with Doug fir.

I really enjoy the delicacy of the needles.

That’s a nice, elegant trunk. Have fun!
thanks for the info. I've looked all over for information about Doug Fir and have seen some, including the techniques Ryan Neil uses. I think he basically prunes in early summer after new growth hardens or just before
 

chicago1980

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I purchased it from High Desert Bonsai. 2020 was a long and depressing year for me so I decided to buy myself a yamadori. I have been studying bonsai since 2006 so I figure I'm ready in terms of keeping it alive and well. I see a lot of design possibilities but I'm in no rush to decide.

because its a new tree I'll first let it just grow as I get to know it. The tree is very old. I did think about reducing the height initially. I'm not a huge fan of apical jins but I'm not ruling anything out. thanks for your input.

thanks for the info. I've looked all over for information about Doug Fir and have seen some, including the techniques Ryan Neil uses. I think he basically prunes in early summer after new growth hardens or just before

Douglas fir are a hardy species. They also are a species of conifer that ask for a lot of patience.

Heavily fertilize, I am serious. Don't hold back and feed alot.

I have a Douglas fir that I have patiently been growing to health since 2017.

This spring I will style for the first time.

Also, repot and style in spring, I have spoke to Ryan and Todd both after years of learning and test suggest spring is the best time to style and repot.
 

Tieball

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You have chosen good material to start with. Good potential for several directions. Mighty fine!
I’d probably concentrate first on tree health....while thinking about what to do. I’m hesitant to start pruning to early because I don’t know right away what’s going to live and flourish.....and what’s doomed to fail growth.
 

River's Edge

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If you prune in the spring do it early and seal larger cuts, Fir are prone to sap flow. Spring works well because longer period to heal. Heavy work is best in late fall or winter due to the tendency for heavy sap flow at other times. This is more of an issue with younger stock like yours than older yamadori.
 

ghues

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this is my first yamadori. I've been waiting my whole life for this. I don't have a lot of experience with styling conifers but I think instinctively i want to preserve the wonderful taper that this tree naturally has. does anyone have any thoughts on douglas fir cultivation or styling??
Glad to see you posting again Catfish👍😎😃
 
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If you prune in the spring do it early and seal larger cuts, Fir are prone to sap flow. Spring works well because longer period to heal. Heavy work is best in late fall or winter due to the tendency for heavy sap flow at other times. This is more of an issue with younger stock like yours than older yamadori.
thats good to know. so you would consider this younger stock? the pot is 21 inches. I was told it grew at 8,500 elevation. I can't lift this plant by myself

Glad to see you posting again Catfish👍😎😃
happy to be back 😁

here is another shot of the trunk. there is more movement in there and taper. not sure about nebari yet. im wondering if its worth trying to strengthen the lowest branches on the trunk
 

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Douglas fir are a hardy species. They also are a species of conifer that ask for a lot of patience.

Heavily fertilize, I am serious. Don't hold back and feed alot.

I have a Douglas fir that I have patiently been growing to health since 2017.

This spring I will style for the first time.

Also, repot and style in spring, I have spoke to Ryan and Todd both after years of learning and test suggest spring is the best time to style and repot.
I'd love to see your doug fir
 

PA_Penjing

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Perhaps it's just the picture but the foliage color looks pretty off to me. All the dougs at the nursery are a deep dark green right now. I personally would only fertilize it this year if the photograph coloring is true to real life. If I'm the only one seeing this though.. maybe I'm just wrong. love the trunk regardless
 

Cadillactaste

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2020...sure had its challenges globally. It hit us hard as well. Retail therapy... helps. We redid our bedroom. You got a cool tree. End of the day. The little things help us refocus off things we can't control.

Must say...I tried to look for something bonsai related to buy. Nothing peaked my interest. Couldn't even find a pot for desired trees I was hunting for.

Glad you were able to add this to your collection. Hope all is well your way. Take care.
 

ghues

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maybe something in the spirit of this one, with a long upper branch that cascades
Might be an option. Growing at that elevation annual growth would be slow if not very slow so it’s probably older than the same diameter tree growing at sea level 😂. It does appear to be weak but hopefully it will gain strength this growing season.
Good luck.
 

River's Edge

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thats good to know. so you would consider this younger stock?
LOL, yes I would. Yamadori of that age I do consider younger. I guess it is what one is exposed to.and used to collecting! It makes sense that it was collected at high elevation to have that bit of mature bark on that size of a trunk. The majority of the tree has immature bark, showing sap cells just below the surface and smooth surface, the base of the tree is beginning to show some age with scales forming on the bark. This is a positive because the upper portion will be the target for future branch and foliage development. The spindly branches low down will be more difficult to strengthen and develop.
If I had just acquired the tree, I would repot, placing the tree deeper in substrate and bringing it back to health for two years before any other work. A bit deeper grow box built just to enclose the current root ball with 1 inch to spare. Regardless of how long ago it was collected, it appears weak and in need of strengthening, repotting will tell you exactly what the condition of the roots are and what amount ( if any) of native soil is left to deal with. Also, it will perhaps explain why it is planted so high and exposing so many smaller roots on the one side.
Once it is in better condition, it appears that removing those finer roots on the left side will reveal a very nice flare to complement the lower flare on the right side.
In short I think you have a tree with fine potential, the first priority would be to get it back to health and I do not believe one can do that without understanding exactly what the overall condition of the roots are.
I will admit to a firm bias, I do not like to develop trees or bring them back to health in Bonsai pots. I prefer to transfer them to Bonsai pots after they have developed the fine root system that allows them to thrive in pots and the major development work has been completed.
 

River's Edge

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