Projects from Leo's Backyard

Leo in N E Illinois

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I like @bonhe 's idea of a single thread for the collecting photos and things I'm doing bonsai wise that don't deserve separate threads. It will also make it easier to find just one thread rather than one for each of dozens of trees.

First up is a new acquisition, from Singing Tree Nursery, Hinoki 'Hage' Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Hage'.
This cultivar is very slow growing, as slow as the 'Nana' form. It was a little expensive for its small size, but given their slow growth rate I did not expect a large tree for the price. I put it in a shallow wide pot, mostly because it was laying around, I want the tree to bulk up, so the plan is to leave it in that pot for several years.

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bonhe

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Hi Leo,
Very cool tree you have! Please update this post frequently. Thanks
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Leo in N E Illinois

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Crab apple. Weeping crab. I need to dig to find the cultivar. This is my only grafting success, I grafted all 7 branches onto a trunk of apple understock. I did this 5 years ago, and have not gotten around to doing anything more with it. I will, maybe this year. It is trunking up nicely.

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Leo in N E Illinois

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I did my digging, luckily I believe in plastic name tags written on with pencil. Ink will fade out completely in sun, pencil, even as it fades, always leaves a faint trace that you can usually read.

It is 'Ann E' Weeping crabapple, a clone developed by Johnson Nursery just west of Milwaukee. Mike Yanni is their principle propagator, he found the clone, and taught the grafting class I took. This was one of 5 trees I grafted branches onto in the 4 hour class. The only one to take, the only one still alive.

The class was August 2013. I had not done much with it except remove any of the understock's suckers that formed at least twice a summer. The understock was about 4 feet tall, I grafted 7 buds up the understock. Only 5 grafts took. The trunk was nice and fat, I only 2 bud grafts took low on the trunk, the rest I spaced out up the tall trunk. In 2015 I air layered the tall part off the trunk, thinking that would be better as a landscape tree. The layer is still in its own pot, Just a very straight, boring trunk with 1 weeping crab branch at the top, very awkward, but perfect for a future bud donor when I get ambitious.

The the tree in the photos was last repotted in 2015. I had not done any wire or training work, as I could not see much of a bonsai in the tree. Peter Tea and I looked at it, and he was not inspired by it either. So it has rattled around the back yard, ignored for another 5 years.

I was looking at it today, cut off a few suckers from the understock. And bingo, a potential front, and a reasonable design hit me. I frequently tell beginners if they don't see an obvious design for a tree to just let the tree grow for a while, rather than floundering around cutting things off at random. Well I took my own advice with this one. It took 7 years to finally see a design. But now I think I know what I want to do.

Probable Front give or take a few degrees of rotation. Obviously the dead wood stumps need to be dealt with, the one up top, and the one on the right branch side.
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Next is the back

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back with diagonal cutters, from end of handle to tip of the cutters is 8 inches or 20 cm. The tree is about 3 inches across at the base.


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Bonsai Nut

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Obviously the dead wood stumps need to be dealt with, the one up top, and the one on the right branch side.
Thank you for putting this up! I'm sure many of us have problem trees that we just stare at for hours on end... and then put back on the shelf.

I see two challenges with this material. The deadwood on the right has caused a knob of growth both on the trunk and the base of the branch. It is a two-edged sword because if you were to remove it, in my opinion the tree would lose much of its character and the trunk would become boring. However right now it is unsightly. I think if you just really develop the branch structure on the right, it will gradually fit into the scale of the tree and become a compliment instead of a detraction. Looking forward to what you do with it!

Second, you have a big gap in your surface roots right in the front. The tree looks like it's doing the splits :) I think you might consider rooting some cuttings to use as root grafts a couple of years down the road.

Since I know you know how to do all of this - I am looking forward to when it is done!!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Thank you for putting this up! I'm sure many of us have problem trees that we just stare at for hours on end... and then put back on the shelf.

I see two challenges with this material. The deadwood on the right has caused a knob of growth both on the trunk and the base of the branch. It is a two-edged sword because if you were to remove it, in my opinion the tree would lose much of its character and the trunk would become boring. However right now it is unsightly. I think if you just really develop the branch structure on the right, it will gradually fit into the scale of the tree and become a compliment instead of a detraction. Looking forward to what you do with it!

Second, you have a big gap in your surface roots right in the front. The tree looks like it's doing the splits :) I think you might consider rooting some cuttings to use as root grafts a couple of years down the road.

Since I know you know how to do all of this - I am looking forward to when it is done!!

Actually, thank you for the critique. I had not actually "formalized" a plan in my mind, so while I immediately recognized your suggestions as exactly the right things to do, I had not really thought about what to start working on this year. It has remained one of my "red-headed step children" in that I wasn't happy with it right after it was created, and just kept sticking it in the back of the collection to be ignored another year since then. It is time to start paying attention to this tree.

Crappy photo of it in bloom. When looking down on it, it is lovely. From the side, not so much. I need to take better photos.
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Brad in GR

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I was looking at it today, cut off a few suckers from the understock. And bingo, a potential front, and a reasonable design hit me. I frequently tell beginners if they don't see an obvious design for a tree to just let the tree grow for a while, rather than floundering around cutting things off at random. Well I took my own advice with this one. It took 7 years to finally see a design.
I’ve enjoyed this suggested approach in your past posts. Longitudinal thinking instead of trying to force a design.
I like the crab! Will look forward to seeing progress and also curious to see how quickly your Hinoki grows over time. I just pruned mine for the first time in its 3 years with me.
Thanks for sharing.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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What do crabs need to bloom?
Cuttings, air layers & grafted crabs are mature enough that as soon as they have the physiological strength, in other words, the carbohydrate reserves they can bloom. Buds form sometime after the summer solstice, I don't know exactly when. Flower buds can form from the leaf nodes along the length of the previous summers growth. Spring 2020 blooms formed in the buds sometime between beginning July and end of October 2019, I suspect they are formed around Aug 15.. They can also form spur growths, like spur fruiting apples. Again sometime over summer the buds form. My guess would be to do minimal pruning after the summer solstice prior to the spring you want a big show of flowers.

Blooms tend to be in the 3rd leaf node and further on branches. So if you want bloom, leave longer branches until after spring blooming season. If you are continuing to prune branch extensions to just one or two nodes of extension, then you will have few if any flowers in spring. You need the branches to run a little if you want blooms. Of course immediately after blooming branches can be shortened to just one or two nodes.

Crab apples, and culinary apples in general take at least 10 years from seed to first bloom. This seems to be related to cell tissue age, or chronological age of the "clone". Out of a batch of 100 or more seedlings, there will be a few, maybe 1%, manybe 5%, I do not know the exact percentage, that will be precocious, and bloom much quicker than the rest of the cohorts. Possibly in as little as 3 or 4 years, you can see the first precocious bloomers. Then the bulk will start blooming around 10 years. Some %, will not bloom even at 20 years. This is a biological clock thing. It can be shortened by unrestricted growth in the ground. Apple breeders will bud graft unbloomed seedlings onto older understock, this seems to shorten the waiting time to first bloom. But for bonsai purposes, a tree grown in the ground may bloom quicker, but growth may be too coarse to be brought back down to "bonsai size". Air layers can always be taken for desirable cultivars to be used for bonsai.

So basically, stop pruning after the solstice would be my suggestion if you are not getting flowers and want to see the flowers. Or at least leave a selection of branches long, 5 or more nodes, to bloom in spring, then remove the excess length after blooming.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Today is move a bunch of trees, weed wack, remove weeds from pots, put it all back. One of the evils of just setting pots on the ground. I need to build benches.

Thuja, from Matt in Benton Harbor, MI. Collected "up nort", Traverse City area or a little north from there. Purchased July 2019. Have not done anything with it yet. I like it just the way it is. I think collected 2018, so it is good to just leave it alone for a bit.
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Leo in N E Illinois

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Jack pine, grafted, 'Chippewa', on Scots pine roots.

Foliage was mostly at tips only of branches, early look was like a round cylinder that tapered to a point, topiary like. Coming along, finally a profusion of buds. It will be ready for work in late summer.

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Leo in N E Illinois

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Jack Pine 'Manoment' - Pinus banksiana 'Manoment'
Purchased a grafted specimen in 2017, it was an older plant that had been kicking around the rock garden conifer nursery for a decade or two. 'Manoment' is a dwarf with a fastigiate natural form, upright and columnar.

As purchased - no work was done on it until 2018.
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Hard to see with the green background, took it down to 2 sub-trunks, one will be the main apex, the other will be subordinate. I had wired it out, I've removed most the wires because it was biting in. I have new apexes wired into place, but have left the older longer trunks in place. I reduced the foliage on the older trunks, to keep them as sacrifice trunks for a few more years.

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As purchased, foliage was mostly at the tips of branches. Wiring out the branches horizontal let light in, and as a result after two growing seasons I'm beginning to get back budding. Not a huge amount yet. It was moved to the Anderson flat in August 2018, so it has only had a year and a half to redevelop a root system. I was pretty aggressive with the roots when I transferred it to the Anderson flat. So I figure back budding will become better over the next couple years.

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All in all, I like this cultivar, needles are straight, without twisting and relatively short. I am of mixed minds on whether to keep the 2 trunks, with a main and subordinate apexes, or to reduce to a single trunk. As to style, I think with this one I'm going for more or less the "big old eastern white pine" look. But I may change my mind. I have kept a lot of branches in order to keep my options open for future design changes.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Seedling Jack pine. Seed planted 2017? Don't really remember.

No training at all yet. I should really throw some wire at it. Notice the longer needles, and the needles have some twisting and or are "wavey". Some of the seedlings had fairly straight needles, some have some twist to them. I assume natural variation.

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BrianBay9

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It's reassuring to see projects that look like my projects, coming out of the yards of experienced people. Sometimes all we see are the best y'all have, then I go look at my yard and see maybe one tree that can compare. Most of my stuff is like these - things I hope will develop into something with time and effort.
 
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