Oak progression

bonsai barry

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This oak seems to be growing pretty fast. Here are three photos, one from '05, another from '06, and the final one today. Soon I will wire the lower branch on the right to create some movement.

I think another year and a half in the ground and this one will be ready for a pot. Anyone agree or disagree?
 

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grog

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No help here, just curious as to the type of oak. Burr oak?
 

AlainK

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I don't know about the species that grow in California, but species like our Quercus robur (English oak) backbud profusely when cut.

I think that you may want to choose a trunk line, and maybe one of the two bigger branches will have to go. Personally, I would cut a lot of it just before the leaves go out while it is in the ground, the cuts would heal more rapidly than in a pot.

This is maybe too drastic, but the pictures attached show what I would do. I would leave the small branch at the back for the bottom of the trunk to thicken, and cut along the red lines. The green circle shows one of the places where it is likely to backbud.
 

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AlainK

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To illustrate what I was just saying, this English oak was taken from a hedge where it had grown spontaneously three years ago.

I reduced the main root before putting it in the ground, and this year, I cut all the branches and the top on June 18 (a bit late).

The second picture shows the new buds on June 22nd, and the third one what it looked like on August 7.

The idea is to get a base as broad as possible, and select a new leader and new branches next year, wait maybe another couple of years before putting it in a pot. I will also uproot it next Spring to reduce the pivotal root further before putting it straight back into the ground.

Your tree looks very healthy and there must be other options, depending where you want to lead it to, but in the species we have in europe, it is very unusual to see a fork so close to the buttress in nature, that's why I would personally choose a single trunk and try to make a more conical shape from the base to the first limbs.
 

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Jay Wilson

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Hey Barry,
I think you have a good start on a nice little oak.

How much longer you leave it in the ground depends on where you want to go with this tree.
Alain has given some good advice if you wanted to go with the informal upright style, but I get the feeling that you want to go for a look that more represents the oaks you see in your area.

The first limb on the right does need much more movement and you may be able to get the movement you want by wireing but I suspect it's already too big to bend enough movement in it with wire. You might consider cutting it back to within an inch or two of the trunk and growing a new limb from the stub, but only cut it back that far if this kind of oak back buds well.

The limb coming from the trunk opposite the first right limb should probably be removed so as to keep from getting a bulge in the trunk at that point.

The left limb/trunk should be chopped about halfway up and a new leader grown to eliminate the long straight section and the main trunk should be treated the same in it's long straight section.

I know you didn't ask for styling advice.......but if you leave it in the groung for another couple of years you could make chops like this and the tree will recover and grow new leaders and limbs much quicker on the strong roots it has.

The only other thing I see is that you have buried it deeper in the ground than it was in the pot and you may not have much root growing at or just below the current ground level where you want your nebari to be.

So.... If it were my tree, I would do a ground layer next spring to get the nebari going. Don't do any major chops next year.... let the strong top growth push all the new roots it can. Then the spring after that I would do any major pruning and grow the new limbs and leaders for a year. The third spring is when I would take it from the groung and go from there.
 

bonsai barry

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Hey Barry,
I think you have a good start on a nice little oak.

How much longer you leave it in the ground depends on where you want to go with this tree.
Alain has given some good advice if you wanted to go with the informal upright style, but I get the feeling that you want to go for a look that more represents the oaks you see in your area.

The first limb on the right does need much more movement and you may be able to get the movement you want by wireing but I suspect it's already too big to bend enough movement in it with wire. You might consider cutting it back to within an inch or two of the trunk and growing a new limb from the stub, but only cut it back that far if this kind of oak back buds well.

The only other thing I see is that you have buried it deeper in the ground than it was in the pot and you may not have much root growing at or just below the current ground level where you want your nebari to be.

So.... If it were my tree, I would do a ground layer next spring to get the nebari going. Don't do any major chops next year.... let the strong top growth push all the new roots it can. Then the spring after that I would do any major pruning and grow the new limbs and leaders for a year. The third spring is when I would take it from the groung and go from there.

Thanks for the excellent observations and advice. You are correct when you recognized that I am growing it in the oak style rather than a traditional bonsai shape.

I am going to try wiring again, I wired the first branch on the right but as you can see eight months was not long enough.

I don't think I'll try the ground layer with this tree since I had an unbroken streak of failure with my layering efforts this year, so I'll practice with a few other trees first since I think this one has some potential and I don't want it to become just another statistic in my long list of "learning experiences."
 

AlainK

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Thanks for the excellent observations and advice. You are correct when you recognized that I am growing it in the oak style rather than a traditional bonsai shape.

Let this be a lesson for all ;)

My vision of an oak is what I can see around me : we have several species here, and whether they are isolated trees or grow in forests, they are definitely more or less "moyogi".

The latin name of the tree is important too : a young tree growing in a particular climate might look very similar from a different subspecies that will have very different characteristics when an adult tree. Whether a Quercus robur, Q. suber, or Q. Ilex, very few mature trees have multiple or even double trunks, although it is frequent to find young trees or new shots from a cut buttress with several branches/trunks. After a few years, only one trunk remains.

It makes me think of Taxodium distichum : most of the bonsai you can see are conical shaped with a jin at the top; when you see pictures taken in the bayous or florida, they have flat tops!

So, bonsai aesthetics is cultural, environment-based (not sure at all this word is good English, but I think you know what I mean), and relative : you want to grow it in the oak style, well, this here looks like a traditional bonsai shape. Maybe using accent plants, and accessories in a display when the tree is ready would help to understand its inner nature better... Which perhaps means breaking off from Japanese 'canons'.

(My 2 €cents worth...)
 

Tieball

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Nice progression.

The idea is to get a base as broad as possible, and select a new leader and new branches next year, wait maybe another couple of years before putting it in a pot. I will also uproot it next Spring to reduce the pivotal root further before putting it straight back into the ground.

Can the leaves of an oak tree be reduced in size?....and if yes do they stay reduced or is a reduction process for this tree an every-year development?
 

Vance Wood

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Has this tree been growing in the ground from an acorn, or did you plant a seedling where you cut the tap root? It is probably a White Oak, they are quite common in the Bay Area. Also; most Oaks have tap roots that go very deep. If this is the case and you have never undercut the tree you are going to have to do some serious root work once you decide to pot it up. As to reduction of the leaf size they should if you are pinching back enough to produce back budding.
 

Gene Deci

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Can the leaves of an oak tree be reduced in size?....and if yes do they stay reduced or is a reduction process for this tree an every-year development?

I have had success with leaf reduction on some local white oak I started from acorns. Like most bonsai it came automatically with increased ramification. The leaves are maybe a quarter normal size but that is still fairy large. That is why I think any oak bonsai should be on the large size - for better proportion. I have never tried defoliation with my oaks so I don't know how that might work.
 

bonsai barry

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I have had success with leaf reduction on some local white oak I started from acorns. Like most bonsai it came automatically with increased ramification. The leaves are maybe a quarter normal size but that is still fairy large. That is why I think any oak bonsai should be on the large size - for better proportion. I have never tried defoliation with my oaks so I don't know how that might work.

I have had some luck with leaf reduction, still the leaves look a little large for this tree. The scrub oaks tend to have smaller leaves. I'll try to post a photo of this oak (which is nearly ready to be removed from the ground) as well as a couple of scrub oak that I have.
 

bonsai barry

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Here is an update on this oak. I thought I would remove it from the ground last year, but when I dug it up I was unsatisfied with the root structure, so I'll be keeping it in the ground until the spring of 2014. Notice the small leaf size! If only the leaves would stay that small, those leaves just popped out this week. Still, the leaves will be about 1/3 the size of leaves found on a full grown tree.
 

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gergwebber

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Very Very Very nice!!! is it Q. lobata? (my favorite)

And it still looks like an oak:)


I hope my oaks look like this someday!
 

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