Sapling Division: Cjr Bald Cypress Forest

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
I am in. Any and possibly all the saplings in the attached pictures will be included in the forest some how. These are all planted from seeds in late 2020. I probably will put together the forest late spring or early summer next year.

BCForest1.jpeg
BCForest2.jpeg
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
I am thinking about doing mine in a swamp settings. Where can I find bonsai pot without drain hole of the size big enough for a forest?
 

Kanorin

Shohin
Messages
493
Reaction score
786
Location
St. Louis, MO
USDA Zone
6a
I am thinking about doing mine in a swamp settings. Where can I find bonsai pot without drain hole of the size big enough for a forest?
Are you ruminating about how to create a swampy aesthetic or how to achieve a very swampy soilmass?

I think the swampy aesthetic can be achieved still with some drainage and avoiding the very anaerobic conditions that you might get with a plugged up pot. Obviously, bald cypress can tolerate standing water more so than most trees, but it still might not be ideal.

How about taking the pot and sitting it in a large tray of water (especially for the summer months)? You can dump and exchange the water every 3-4 days to keep it a bit more oxygen-rich and mosquito-poor.

Or just use a pot with drainage and a much finer soil particle (1/20" - 1/12" or so) and think about some swampy understory plants to include?
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
Are you ruminating about how to create a swampy aesthetic or how to achieve a very swampy soilmass?

I think the swampy aesthetic can be achieved still with some drainage and avoiding the very anaerobic conditions that you might get with a plugged up pot. Obviously, bald cypress can tolerate standing water more so than most trees, but it still might not be ideal.

How about taking the pot and sitting it in a large tray of water (especially for the summer months)? You can dump and exchange the water every 3-4 days to keep it a bit more oxygen-rich and mosquito-poor.

Or just use a pot with drainage and a much finer soil particle (1/20" - 1/12" or so) and think about some swampy understory plants to include?
Both.
I am going to create a true swampy environment with the exception of having mosquito control in the pot. Some of the trees will be on a mound out of the water. Others may be at the edge of in the water. I don't worry about standing water with my BCs. They grow like crazy right now being in cattle feed tub with lots of water. The tubs you see in the above picture usually are full of water to the rims. Once a week I water it a whole lot and allow spill over to replace the stagnant water. The only concern I'll have is the constant need to cut back.
BTW, this is pretty common in penjing that is done in Asia where there is a tiny mini pond in the bonsai pot. Usually we make our own tiered pots where the water is only next to the tree but in this case the trees don't care if the soil is soaked so I don't feel the need to build my own tiered pot.
The thought is to build clay dam for the mound so I can put some elevation changes in the pot and also I can grow some moss. Then there is a pond like half of the pot that will have small layer of soil and water on top. This is the tricky part but I really want that. The hardest part is actually achieving the buttresses on the trees in the water to make it believable. Since we only have a scant 5 years that will be tough. All I can do is chop low and get very sharp taper and hope for the best.

PS: If I want it to look like Louisiana, I will put in a tiny fish camp (cabin for you Yankees) with blue tarp for roof (common down here after so many hurricanes).
 
Last edited:

Kanorin

Shohin
Messages
493
Reaction score
786
Location
St. Louis, MO
USDA Zone
6a
By the way I love your idea of going all-in on the bald cypress swamp scene. Lots of potential there.
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
My inspiration is the swamps all around me. I realize that this will make mine more like penjing that bonsai and I am OK with that.
1633630922709.png
 
Last edited:

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
Question for Bonsainutters @Mellow Mullet @Joe Dupre' @rockm @Sekibonsai @BillsBayou et. al.
For my BC forest, I imagine 6 or 7 trees about 18" in height max with the trunks diameter about 2-3" and the base around 4-5". Does that sound about right?
For them to reach the base size, I plan to grow them separately until they reach 2" diameter. Then I will chop them to 6" high and pot them as a forest. This will give me 3 years or so to develop the top and to get the roots to flare out and weave together into a forest base. Good enough plan?
 

Joe Dupre'

Omono
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,028
Location
South Louisiana
USDA Zone
9a
18" high with 4-5" bases sounds out of proportion. With the top 3 or 4 inches being a tiny apex, that sounds like an almost impossible amount of taper in such a short distance. From 2" in diameter, and growing them with a taper to 6" in diameter while in the forest could take 15-20 years . You are going to need a huge pot to make that forest look right. If you find one, better put it where you're NEVER going to move it. LOL!

Even if you can't draw worth snot, make a basic scale model of what you're aiming for. It might keep you from making a 5-10 year mistake. The trees you have could take 4 or more years to get to 6" in diameter even planted in the ground. Crowded in a pot would slow that down tremendously.

Not trying to be a wet blanket. Just trying to illustrate some potential problems.
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
18" high with 4-5" bases sounds out of proportion. With the top 3 or 4 inches being a tiny apex, that sounds like an almost impossible amount of taper in such a short distance. From 2" in diameter, and growing them with a taper to 6" in diameter while in the forest could take 15-20 years . You are going to need a huge pot to make that forest look right. If you find one, better put it where you're NEVER going to move it. LOL!

Even if you can't draw worth snot, make a basic scale model of what you're aiming for. It might keep you from making a 5-10 year mistake. The trees you have could take 4 or more years to get to 6" in diameter even planted in the ground. Crowded in a pot would slow that down tremendously.

Not trying to be a wet blanket. Just trying to illustrate some potential problems.
I wasn’t clear about the base measurement. I am taking about the root base flare shown above the ground. The trunk right above it should be 2 to 2.5”. I think a trunk taper from 2 to 2.5 over 18” is doable and appropriate.
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
If I take a look at a picture like this and then compress the vertical by 40% (some people do even more than that for bonsai) then I arrive at 2" trunk near the base 4" root flare and 18" high. That was my thought. Now whether I can make that happen is another story. I will give it a heave ho try hahaha. Honestly when I go into the swamp, this is what I see. Yeah the taper at the base is amazing. BTW, I have seen very fast base growth like this when the BC grows in the swamp. Like a fighter getting into a low stance to maintain stability, these trees do the same thing. BTW my scale model says my pot will have to be at least 24" long and 17" wide.
cypresses-swamp.jpg
 

Maiden69

Shohin
Messages
496
Reaction score
534
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
To give you an idea of a BC forest. Not all trees should be the same size, it would be good if you can slow down some of them once you get an initial flare in the base. The pick one that you can let lose and let it grow as much as possible to be your main trunk.

BC forest.JPG
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
To give you an idea of a BC forest. Not all trees should be the same size, it would be good if you can slow down some of them once you get an initial flare in the base. The pick one that you can let lose and let it grow as much as possible to be your main trunk.

View attachment 401837
This is not really what I want my BC forest to look like. My inner cajun screams "Yankee's idea of a swamp". No disrespect to Ryan. He's a master bonsai person and the trees in that pot were amazing. Yet when I look at this I don't feel bald cypress swamp. I feel a swamp in a DC comic universe or something.
Your recommendation of variation in sizes is definitely something I want to do however.
 
Last edited:

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
For this project, I imagine I will have to reach way back to my childhood practice and make a pot out of cement with stainless steel eyelets built in so I can tie the trees down. Then I can put in my gumbo mud and plant those trees and poor water on them to my heart content. The base plants to decorate will be salvinia or tiny water lily.
 

Joe Dupre'

Omono
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,028
Location
South Louisiana
USDA Zone
9a
OK, that sounds more doable......... BUT...... Flair, at least in my area, seems to be a hit or miss thing. It might even be genetic. In my experience, the tree will give you flair and buttressing if IT wants to, not in response to any specific technique. Hardly any of our swamps look like the one you pictured. I think it's similar to the growth of cypress knees. Not many knees in your picture. I've had 20+ cypress trees in pots in the last 6 years, as has one of my friends. Out of those 40 trees, only one of mine has grown a knee.

By the way, Neil's forest is killer. My only remark is the tree on the far right is the only one that looks like our local trees.
 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
OK, that sounds more doable......... BUT...... Flair, at least in my area, seems to be a hit or miss thing. It might even be genetic. In my experience, the tree will give you flair and buttressing if IT wants to, not in response to any specific technique. Hardly any of our swamps look like the one you pictured. I think it's similar to the growth of cypress knees. Not many knees in your picture. I've had 20+ cypress trees in pots in the last 6 years, as has one of my friends. Out of those 40 trees, only one of mine has grown a knee.

By the way, Neil's forest is killer. My only remark is the tree on the far right is the only one that looks like our local trees.
You are right about the buttresses and knees. The first picture I posted had tons and tons of knees yet the second picture practically has none. I don't know if mine will do anything but I am going to collects more seeds from a tree that has tons of knees and grow some more to see if that make any difference.

To be honest, as compared to the one picture with few knees, only the swamp area in Natchitoches and a few areas at the Henderson swamp look like that.
 
Last edited:

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
10,353
Reaction score
13,969
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Question for Bonsainutters @Mellow Mullet @Joe Dupre' @rockm @Sekibonsai @BillsBayou et. al.
For my BC forest, I imagine 6 or 7 trees about 18" in height max with the trunks diameter about 2-3" and the base around 4-5". Does that sound about right?
For them to reach the base size, I plan to grow them separately until they reach 2" diameter. Then I will chop them to 6" high and pot them as a forest. This will give me 3 years or so to develop the top and to get the roots to flare out and weave together into a forest base. Good enough plan?
That sounds like it will work. I'd think the "typical" arrangement of primary tall and thicker trees in the center (ish) with gradually shorter and smaller fanning out to the sides will work to emphasize the forest/swamp.

I lean towards planting forest trees together as soon as possible because it allows closer, tighter placements of trunks. That early placement allows branches to be developed where they're needed and increases the relationship and coherence between individual trees, particularly at the nebari. IF indivdiual trees are placed after extensive nebari development, those individual nebari can look odd and don't have any natural relationship to the tree next to it--like both were dropped together from outer space and not grown together in a swamp for 300 years...

If you don't have it, get Kato's Forest and Rock Planting book. It has dozens of diagrams on different tree arrangements. Although they might not translate exactly, they do give some perspective on why tree placements work...

 

Cajunrider

Omono
Messages
1,889
Reaction score
2,718
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
That sounds like it will work. I'd think the "typical" arrangement of primary tall and thicker trees in the center (ish) with gradually shorter and smaller fanning out to the sides will work to emphasize the forest/swamp.

I lean towards planting forest trees together as soon as possible because it allows closer, tighter placements of trunks. That early placement allows branches to be developed where they're needed and increases the relationship and coherence between individual trees, particularly at the nebari. IF indivdiual trees are placed after extensive nebari development, those individual nebari can look odd and don't have any natural relationship to the tree next to it--like both were dropped together from outer space and not grown together in a swamp for 300 years...

If you don't have it, get Kato's Forest and Rock Planting book. It has dozens of diagrams on different tree arrangements. Although they might not translate exactly, they do give some perspective on why tree placements work...

Excellent advice. Thank you! I am going to put them together in the early summer next year. The trees I have in the grow flat sitting on top of muck in cement tubs filled with water are developing amazing roots spreaded out horizontally. I will give it about six month of growth then I'll put them together.
 
Last edited:

JTrips

Seedling
Messages
24
Reaction score
8
Location
Northern VA
USDA Zone
7b
I had the BC swamp forest vision this summer, but so far my air-layers are not cooperating. I hope to take a large flat piece (15+ sf) of irregular bluestone and cement and seal a wall inset arount the perimeter. Maybe make it the top shelf of a low volume waterfall-pond feature (I know not very Cajun, but let's fantasy here). Bird's around here would love it!
 
Top Bottom