Sorting Out Uneven Root Plane

Lumaca

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Hello all. I am looking for advice on this Samanea saman I've been growing from seed.

The tree has spreading nebari, but unfortunately it is on a bit of a different height from ground level. The tree itself is a straight trunk with no branching yet since I was just trying to thicken the trunk.

Is my only option to lose one side of the trunk, or I was thinking about tilting the tree so the roots are on the same plane? Would love to hear your ideas.

20211116_100303.jpg
Back 1

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Back 2

20211116_100320.jpg
Front 1

20211116_100326.jpg
Front 2
 

sorce

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I'd layer it...

Not only of the heights, or the few initial roots ...

But that last close up picture...

You know how a "pancake nebari" goes into what some call grotesque or abnormal?
That wide look is acceptable to that extreme because it is an enhancement of what we see as natural.

Where that last pic, is like the opposite of that, very uneasy. Not enough base. It is only just into that other end, but because it is not normally "comfortable" to look at, it is rather jarring, especially since the eye starts where the tree meets the soil, and that negative space where stability should be viewed, is like a black hole of vision holding, not allowing the eye to move along the tree.

Sorce
 

Shibui

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My first option for uneven height nebari is to tilt the trunk. partly because that's the quickest way to even out roots but more because vertical trunks limit design possibilities.
Always check to see if there are more roots below a high root. Change could be as simple as pruning it off and end up with a far better nebari. Cutting roots will not usually kill part of the trunk. Most trees have the ability to change sap flow so other roots should take over feeding that side of the tree after roots are removed.
My experience is that scars created by removing large roots seem to take longer to heal than other similar cuts so I try to avoid removing thick roots if possible and prefer to try to avoid creating them in the first place. Another downside to removing large roots is that the trunk is usually thicker above a large root so removing the root usually leaves the trunk with reverse taper.
Another option is to make a layer to get a whole new root system. By layering you can control where the roots grow and often get a far better radial root system.

I would prefer to see more ramification in roots. A couple of long, thick roots is not my idea of great nebari no matter how wide they spread. I try to cut roots as they grow to get good ramification just like we do for branches above.

Samanea is a species I am not familiar with so please check how it responds to pruning and layering before trying any of those techniques.
 

Lumaca

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I'd layer it...

Not only of the heights, or the few initial roots ...

But that last close up picture...

You know how a "pancake nebari" goes into what some call grotesque or abnormal?
That wide look is acceptable to that extreme because it is an enhancement of what we see as natural.

Where that last pic, is like the opposite of that, very uneasy. Not enough base. It is only just into that other end, but because it is not normally "comfortable" to look at, it is rather jarring, especially since the eye starts where the tree meets the soil, and that negative space where stability should be viewed, is like a black hole of vision holding, not allowing the eye to move along the tree.

Sorce
You mean the root is way too thick for the trunk? By negative space, I'm assuming you mean the gap between roots and leaves is too big? My first idea was to actually chop that root, then chop the top and let it backbud lower.

As for the trunk itself, do you think it's worth keeping? I think there's nothing special about that trunk and I am planning to chop it down low (way below the first leaf).

I always thought the point of air layering is to keep an interesting trunk with bad roots. Because honestly I thought the top of this tree is the disposable part.

My first option for uneven height nebari is to tilt the trunk. partly because that's the quickest way to even out roots but more because vertical trunks limit design possibilities.
Always check to see if there are more roots below a high root. Change could be as simple as pruning it off and end up with a far better nebari. Cutting roots will not usually kill part of the trunk. Most trees have the ability to change sap flow so other roots should take over feeding that side of the tree after roots are removed.
My experience is that scars created by removing large roots seem to take longer to heal than other similar cuts so I try to avoid removing thick roots if possible and prefer to try to avoid creating them in the first place. Another downside to removing large roots is that the trunk is usually thicker above a large root so removing the root usually leaves the trunk with reverse taper.
Another option is to make a layer to get a whole new root system. By layering you can control where the roots grow and often get a far better radial root system.

I would prefer to see more ramification in roots. A couple of long, thick roots is not my idea of great nebari no matter how wide they spread. I try to cut roots as they grow to get good ramification just like we do for branches above.

Samanea is a species I am not familiar with so please check how it responds to pruning and layering before trying any of those techniques.

Checking the roots below seems like the best step so I can both check roots and try to tilt and "tetris" it until I find an angle that may work. I think this tree is due a repot with more water-retentive media anyway. I think I'm still trying to figure out the balance between working the tree and leaving them to grow. This one is probably a case where checking the roots earlier would prevent a lot of trouble.

I have experimented a bit with the species and I'm quite confident that if I chop somewhere between the base and the first leaf, both the bottom and top cutting will live (the bottom will, the top will live with some care).
 

sorce

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Not only the root is too thick for the trunk, but even if cut, you still are dealing with this bigger problem, this negative space...
Capture+_2021-11-16-09-44-23.png

There really is no amount of growth that would ever make this look as good as a fresh radial airlayer would.

I personally wouldn't have any opinions on the top until the base is situated.

The number one reason for an airlayer for me is to create, not only radial roots, but smaller roots that are more in proportion with the trunk.

Second reason would be to use interesting trunk sections.

I have a deeper more ill seated (because it's hard to express) opinion that we have a poor understanding of what good proportionality in surface roots is.

This visual by Walter really put it into perspective for me.
Thread 'What's this?' https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/whats-this.52695/

It is a great look at how smaller surface roots can actually make an image more realistic.

The deep problem, is that we completely understand that making branches smaller make the trunk look bigger.

But we completely neglect to take this into account at the roots.

This is a subliminal problem no one speaks about. A large problem because not only should we start creating at the base, but the viewer starts there as well. So our worst "hurdle" to a realistic vision, is directly at the beginning.

Sorce
 
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Lumaca

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Not only the root is too thick for the trunk, but even if cut, you still are dealing with this bigger problem, this negative space...
View attachment 408360

There really is no amount of growth that would ever make this look as good as a fresh radial airlayer would.

I personally wouldn't have any opinions on the top until the base is situated.

The number one reason for an airlayer for me is to create, not only radial roots, but smaller roots that are more in proportion with the trunk.

Second reason would be to use interesting trunk sections.

I have a deeper more ill seated (because it's hard to express) opinion that we have a poor understanding of what good proportionality in surface roots is.

This visual by Walter really put it into perspective for me.
Thread 'What's this?' https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/whats-this.52695/

It is a great look at how smaller surface roots can actually make an image more realistic.

The deep problem, is that we completely understand that making branches smaller make the trunk look bigger.

But we completely neglect to take this into account at the roots.

This is a subliminal problem no one speaks about. A large problem because not only should we start creating at the base, but the viewer starts there as well. So our worst "hurdle" to a realistic vision, is directly at the beginning.

Sorce
I see your point. Unfortunately I haven't been succesful in my layering attempts. I think I'll start over with a smaller seedling of the same species then. I think this species needs more frequent root work.
 

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