Oldest collected white spruce!

Tycoss

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IMG_1611.JPG IMG_1600.JPG IMG_1604.JPG IMG_1530.JPG IMG_1610.JPG IMG_1603.JPG I collected this pieces glauca early this April, as soon as the ground was fully thawed here in southern Alberta. It has a lot of nice dark flaky bark near the base, which is about 3.5" in diameter. It was along a path and had been cut down about 12" from the ground. This led to a bunch of branches competing to become the new leader, what Walter Pall calls the "candelabra effect". There is some new tissue starting to heal the old wound.

The tree was put in a grow out box with a bunch of lava, bark chips and oil dri as well as a lot of the soil it was collected in. Though some older needles browned and were shed (as always happens here in the fall), it put on lots of new growth, including some backbudding on old wood. There is some of the soil it was collected in on top of the bonsai mix which will have to be washed off when the tree is re-potted.
I know this will be a very long term project, but had some questions about how to proceed from people with more experience here. I plan to give the thing another year to grow without major work, then shorten the main trunks to their desired height the following year. I would re-pot it the year following (perhaps still leave it its grow out box). The year following that (5 years from collecting) it would get it's first proper full styling. Does this sound reasonable. I really like this tree and want it to do well. I also want to know if I can safely cut back some of the new growth in early summer when they are hardened off, as is often done with spruce. This would help to encourage back budding so I have something to cut back to when I do a major pruning. I'll give you my very tentative styling plans once you guys have had a chance to comment.
 

Tycoss

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IMG_1608.JPG IMG_1605.JPG Views of other angles. Trying to show the bark. I know I've got a lot of pictures of the lower trunk, but this is the part I can't change, and the foliage is too dense for good photos further up.
 

wireme

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I would base the work/repotting schedule more on the condition of the tree than # of years. Look for plump buds at the end of the season, not just one or 2 on the ends but multiple strong buds on branch ends and back buds. Once you get that give it another year of growth if you want to be safe. I wouldn't rush to repot unless there's some real dense clay or something that worries you. Take your time to chase foliage inwards.
I've seen good potential for spruce out that way I think, I could pm you a rough location if you like?
 

Tycoss

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I would base the work/repotting schedule more on the condition of the tree than # of years. Look for plump buds at the end of the season, not just one or 2 on the ends but multiple strong buds on branch ends and back buds. Once you get that give it another year of growth if you want to be safe. I wouldn't rush to repot unless there's some real dense clay or something that worries you. Take your time to chase foliage inwards.
I've seen good potential for spruce out that way I think, I could pm you a rough location if you like?
Sounds good. The tree seems quite happy at the moment, but we will have to see how winter goes. There are some buds on quite old wood, and the outside branches have put on 2"-5" of new growth. The tree is over 5 feet tall right now, and I eventually want it to be half that at the most. I'd love to find some more good collectable spruce in my area, and would appreciate the info. Good lodgepole pine, RMJ and Doug firs are also welcome
 
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Tycoss

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IMG_1623.JPG Thanks again for the insight on cultivating this tree of mine wireme. I have some thoughts on styling it some day (I know, a long way off). I don't have any apps for making virtuals on my phone or laptop. I am thinking I will shorten it by at least half, Jin all but the three top trunks, and carve the old chop to look more natural. I want to wire the smaller branches down quite hard to show the effect of snow weight. I plan to Jin the tops of the remaining three trunks, much like John Naka's "Goshin" but all coming from one trunk. I think it will make a nice, realistic "candelabra form". A rough sketch is above. Any other ideas for this tree (using a single trunk etc.) I am happy to benefit from all of your collective experience.
 

Tycoss

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PS. Figure I ought to shorten all of the skinny bottom jins or remove them completely? Im thinking leaving only the thicker ones will give it an older feel. Thanks again.
 

augustine

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I would leave it at least three years before major work and you have to think about when more field soil can be removed.
 

Tycoss

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I agree about waiting on major work for 3 or more years. I'll try to remove some more field soil when I feel it is safe to disturb the roots some. Its actually pretty loose soil, fairly sandy. As wireme suggested, I'll go on the condition of the buds to dermine when to start work on the foliage. When I scape back the top of the dirt, there are lots of little white feeder roots developing, which I find encouraging. Any more ideas on how to treat this tree?
 

fourteener

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It's not a number of years that determines when you should work on it, it has everything to do with how well it is growing. Is this a picture this fall after gathering last spring and allowing to grow? If it is, the tree is obviously healthy. If it has a lot of big healthy buds on it after a year of sending out that much extension, your decision is whether or not to do some rootwork next year or trimming it back. I would chop the top, all of it's growth is at the expense of the work you need to do down below. I would consider keeping a lower branch that you might cut off later as a sacrifice branch.

You have a lot of work to do to push back growth closer to the trunk, it's on the verge of getting away from you. If It's healthy next year you need to pluck the new growth in half while it's still pretty new, then fertilize like crazy. Spruce do back bud pretty easily, but it needs light to do it, thus another reason to get rid of some of the height you have there and let some more sun in.

Long story short, a sign of health is how much extension is getting kicked out in the spring, number of years really doesn't mean anything.
 

Tycoss

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IMG_1621.JPG Yes, the tree was gathered last spring. I was impressed with the amount of new growth it has put out. All of the new bluish growth at the branch ends has developed since the tree has been in my possession. This "plucking new growth in half" as you called it is actually what I was referring to when asking other members, guess I just didn't express myself well. I already see the start of lots of new buds, if these extend well next spring, I'll pinch back as they begin to harden. Above is a pic of a new bud on old wood, which I took as an encouraging sight. If recovery from that is strong enough, I will hack off the top half of the tree the following fall. As you and wireme have recommended, I'll let the tree guide me, rather than the calendar. I just want to proceed cautiously. The tree has a lot of value to me, not only because I think it has potential as bonsai, but because of where it was collected. Thanks again fourteener.
 
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Tycoss

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IMG_4388.JPG IMG_4389.JPG IMG_4391.JPG Just an update a year later on the tree. The tree has been with me for 2 growing seasons now. Lots of buds and feeder roots this year. It was shortened from 6 ft or so to 32" in the spring. In June I cut back the new growth by about 2/3. I removed the large unnecessary branches near the base this week.
 

Tycoss

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IMG_4394.JPG IMG_4395.JPG IMG_4396.JPG I'm not touching it again until next August. Lots of buds have shown up on the branches. Now that I've shortened it I can work on chasing back the branches over the next couple of years. Wiring the branches down 45 degrees and putting some back and fourth movement in them should make the image more compact and aged. I've become obsessed with old bark on collected spruce, so I couldn't help posting a closeup of the bark on the lower trunk. Any thoughts, critiques or suggestions?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Awesome tree.

I would not rush to repot or disturb the roots. If your pot drains reasonably well, leave it alone, repotting can be the most stressful of things we do to our trees. When you plan to repot, for 3 to 6 months ahead, feed well and stop pruning. Then repot, then give it a season to recover , with good fertilizer, before returning to your pruning program. The added care will let you get away with aggressive root work.
 

augustine

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I like it very much and if it were me would proceed very slowly (unless told otherwise from a pro).
 

Giga

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Looks great, have you seen Graham potter videos on youtube, he does great things with spruce
 

Tycoss

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Looks great, have you seen Graham potter videos on youtube, he does great things with spruce
I have indeed. His deadwood work in particular is brilliant. I'd be scared to death to do as much work in one session as he does though. Maybe if I were as confident in aftercare I would go for it.
 

clevetromba

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20171010_160706.jpg20171010_160601.jpg 20171010_155953.jpg Here are a couple trees I ran across yesterday that have the "candelabra" effect. The second one is rather crazy looking, but I thought of your project!
 
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