Story of a western white pine...

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I collected this western white pine in Dec. 2005 from southeast Arizona at around 9,000' elevation. It was growing at the base of a 40' cliff of granite. For all of its long life it experienced snow and ice plummeting from the cliff onto its trunk, which explains the shari along its trunk. There was a large branch over 8' in length I sawed off before lifting the tree; the tree I have today was built entirely from one lower branch. It was very little trouble to lift it and I'm surprised it stayed put for 3 or more centuries in such a precarious spot. I don't have any pictures from 2005; the first photo is from 2007 and was shot just prior to work started in Mike Hagedorn's study group here in Portland. I had started to style the tree as an informal upright, but Michael had other ideas...:eek::eek::eek:
 

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The previous pic was of the left side of the tree. I would have included more shots in that post but the site won't allow me to. So, bear with me while I post photos singly as I think it's important to get the feel of the tree:) Up next is the left side...and I figured out what I was doing wrong 2nd pic is backside of tree.
 

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Greg,
When I read the elevation where you collected it......I'm curious...... could it be a Pinus albicaulis - known commonly as Whitebark pine? As I've read that "the geographic range of whitebark pine often overlaps with the range of lodgepole pine, and sometimes with that of western white pine".
Cheers Graham
 
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Greg,
When I read the elevation where you collected it......I'm curious...... could it be a Pinus albicaulis - known commonly as Whitebark pine? As I've read that "the geographic range of whitebark pine often overlaps with the range of lodgepole pine, and sometimes with that of western white pine".
Cheers Graham
Thanks for your interest, Graham. I'm pretty certain is's WWP as the latitude is over 1500 miles south, almost into Mexico; there are no lodgepole pine or whitebark that I ever saw;)
 
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Great Tree! So what are Michael's "other ideas?"
Patience, Barry! I'm getting to it. Photos of this tree are scattered about in different folders and I want to keep this as chronological as possible. So, here is what he decided to do. He did not hesitate when he saw the tree and there was plenty of grumbling from me but I gave in:confused:
 

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It took 2 days of study group to wire and style this tree; it worked something like this, we wrapped the grow box with shrink wrap so the pumice it was potted in wouldn't fall out. Then, using shims and bungee cords, we tipped the box 90*. Michael wired the first couple of large branches and turned me loose to wire the rest. I was asked to remove as much wire as I had put on at first (learning curve) which was kind of frustrating, but am I glad we took the trouble to do it right! 1st session was late October (approx. 8 hrs.) followed in November by another 8 hrs. Also, after the first session, I alter my grow box by closing up the top and re-oriented the tree in my yard to grow into its new position. Fun stuff!
 

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Hello Greg... This is a very interesting thread.. Do you have any pics of the tree against a neutral background?

Rob
 
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Fast forward to last fall and the tree had grown so full you couldn't even see the branches and some of the wires were ready to come off as they were biting in. The only work I did on it from the initial styling in 2007 with Mike was to fertilize and break candles to balance growth--and of course, watering.

I think again it was October 2009 for wire removal and cutting old needles. It's important not to pluck old needles from white pines as there can be a significant loss of sap and it tears out the buds at the base of the needle so critical to back budding and shortening the branches. Very painstaking work with scissors as I didn't want to be rough and ruin the new needles. The work extended to November study group. It really gives you an appreciation for the work that goes into some of the larger bonsai that we see out there.

I watched the tree over the winter and it did very well. Well enough to move forward this spring for its first potting to a bonsai pot. Finding large cascade pots can be a challenge and it was at Bonsai Northwest in Seattle I finally located one that would suit this tree. Now that I have my pot, the candles are pushing on the tree and I may be too late for this spring:(
 
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Mike is a very busy guy in the spring with his own trees and clients trees, but 2 days ago, he called and said he had some time. It was a perfect day for potting trees--cloudy with just a few sprinkles coming down. I got my soil sifted and pot ready by wiring plastic mesh over the drain holes. Laid out a tarp on the back deck and we were ready to go. The first shot is of the bottom of the grow box look at the mycorhhizae hyphae and the feeder roots poking out the bottom! Next is the tree on turntable in its original orientation.
 

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This is outstanding material..This tree is worth as much time as it will take to get it ready.. Even if it is a 15 year training period, it is well worth it.. However, from the looks of it.. I think it will be more like 5 years to get the structure you want.. Then the tree will just settle into it.. What a great find....

Rob
 
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Look who's here! Couldn't ask for a better assistant in the U.S.:D:D Another shot of mycorrhizae near trunk; combing out the pumice from the roots; trimming unnecessary roots and finally into the pot. Sorry for no shots of positioning the tree but it took both of us to get it right. The tree is secured in the pot with 14 gauge copper wire; anything less would have been too weak for such a large tree.
 

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Last set--promise! First up is Mike wiggling soil mix into the tight space just behind the trunk in the pot. If you look above his hand you can barely see the tie wire around the old dead root we used as an anchor. Good thing we saved it as it was originally to be sawed off! Next, yours truly watering it in. It took 15 minutes of watering for the discharge to run clear. Last shot is the tree on its lovely polyethylene stand and cluttered background. Sorry for that, I'll try to find a better spot to shoot it from. As it is now, it took both of us to carry it to the barrel it sits on now. The hump behind the trunk was necessary for now as it is where most of the root system emerges from. I covered it with moss later that day and it looks kind of cool--like a grassy knoll in back of the weathered old mountain peak.
 

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This is outstanding material..This tree is worth as much time as it will take to get it ready.. Even if it is a 15 year training period, it is well worth it.. However, from the looks of it.. I think it will be more like 5 years to get the structure you want.. Then the tree will just settle into it.. What a great find....

Rob
Thanks Rob! You're on to what lies ahead...branches need to be chased back, some pruned off--the work never ends! But I love it:D:D:D
 

mcpesq817

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Your tree looks very happy and healthy. Nice job :D
 

buddhamonk

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Hey Greg! Awesome tree - Didn't know you were hiding trees like that.

Quick question - Joe Harris often says nto to work on white pines after the cherry trees have blossomed. Did Mike mention anything about when he prefers to repot white pine? With the weather we've been having it seems like trees are pushing growth much earlier this season but you guys worked on it just a couple days ago.

Anyway, awesome tree, hopefully I get to see it someday.

Manny
 
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Manny--glad you like the tree. I've never heard of the cherry blossom thing before, but I know Joe knows his stuff. I think that may be a general rule of thumb and this was case specific; the tree has been growing stronger every year I've had it. I was watching the buds of the pine carefully and while they are elongating now, the needles are still tight and not emerging yet. We did push the envelope on this, but the box was starting to fall apart! I usually do candle work mid-May and Mike told me to let them go until June, so that's how we'll compensate--let it have a little more grow-time before adjusting the candles.

On another note, I forgot to mention a detail about collecting this tree. It was a mile hike to the tree and @ 9,000' the air is thin and any kind of physical activity beyond walking can be a real strain. I lifted the tree onto my shoulder to carry it out and found I had to stop every 100 yards or so to catch my breath. I don't want to discourage anyone from the joy of collecting but it's really hard work sometimes and the possibility of injury to self and/or tree is real. I really urge anyone attempting this sort of thing to be aware of their own physical condition before they try a larger tree;)
 

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Great tree, and thanks for the progression! It looks like you've got a strong little tree (well, not so little!) on your hands. How about a pic of the potted tree with that neutral background that someone requested so we can see the detail a little more?

Good luck with the future on this one. Definitely a show-piece to come!
 

yenling83

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Hey Greg

Thank you very much for Sharing. I really like the decision here to make this into a cascade rather than upright. The tree and work done on the tree is very impressive! Glad to see you posting on the forum, hope to see more of you on here!
 
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