Tanuki ("tree-over-driftwood") bonsai...Q's on practical setting-up of such composures, as well as species & "type" Q's

SU2

Omono
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So I've got 2 pieces of really cool deadwood, quite sure they were previously owned&used by some kind of caged bird, at any rate they're incredibly durable timber and once it crossed my mind (tanuki) it wouldn't leave, so I've got 2 pieces of this cool wood (IE, will be making 2 specimen), I've already begun 'basic carving' on one of them, as seen in this pic of the wood:
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I know I've gotta carve a good deal more (right?) before "proper placement" of my living scion here, thankfully I've got all the grinding equipment I could want for such things (NOTE: I see these pieces of wood as almost positively being too-large for any "final designs" I have in-mind, however, like with most of my [real]deadwood I'm of the mindset that "more = better" since it's "a canvas" I'll carve and grind to-shape later once the final design is becoming more visible!)

In addition to confirming "I should cut-into them wayyy more, to 'contour' the scions that'll go into them", I was hesitant Re species.... I have two in-mind here:
#1 - Juniper: I have a pair of ~2yr old, Walmart $5 Juniper parsoni or procumbens that's "got the limbs" for me to fit it "over" the deadwood well enough, and then it's just a long waiting game (right?)
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#2 - Ficus Microcarpa! No point in taking pictures because I simply have too many, I always stick (propagate) the cuttings when pruning my (sole) bonsai-ficus.M so it's basically a ficus-factory here, I have dozens in all size ranges from 1mm to 1" thickness. I figure that I'd use >1 actual ficus tree when making this one, since the roots & trunk-bases can "wrap&fuse" with each other & the tanuki-wood (in fact I do this routinely with rocks for root-over-rock, anytime I find a cool rock to use I plant several Ficus M's upon it :p )


There's also Live Oak & Laurel Oak as options, I have many dozens of those (seedling stages to ~1/8").

Am dead-set on using either 1 or both of the Junipers on one of my pieces of driftwood -- would LOVE suggestions on which piece of driftwood to use with the Juniper(s)*, and which to leave for (ficus-or-oak) seedlings!!

Thanks a ton for any advice, and apologies if this is considered VERY or "too" kitsch for the forum, am a tropical grower am not trying to trick a judge with some black pine am just trying to make something neat, with these materials that I have & know I can "wrap around" the wood ('wrapping' is pretty easy here in FL!)
 

SU2

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Oh and would also GREATLY appreciate any "practical/logistical" tips on carving the tanuki-wood (not for style, but for acceptance of the live 'scions', am still not sure just how deeply into the deadwood to set my live materials), and any other tips on "setup", I'm basically just planning to use zip-ties, string and maybe raffia to secure/lash the scion(s) to the deadwood, I could go and wrap the entirety of the trunking in plastic if that's a good idea? Have seen pics with it but no explanation on whether it's universally a good idea..

Re the Junipers, just having written ^my OP I'm now pretty set on using both of them on a single piece of tanuki-wood, since I can "plant from both sides" and may / should be able to create the illusion/perspective of a wider living-base than is truly there ;)
 

SU2

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yes, they all would work. I'd try oak on one piece of deadwood.
Did either piece jump-out at you as being better-suited for Juniper? I like the duller piece better, the other one is darker than it should be too, but the one with the 'branches' is the one I think will fit the Junipers better (the coloration is my fault, I did a "shou sugi ban" burnish treatment and IIRC a polyurethane coat...so in time it'll go back white, am thinking to hit it with the wire-wheel before fusing to speed that up!)

Re Oak am glad to hear you say that, I am kinda stuck between Live & Laurel, I prefer Live Oaks when they're mature but as smaller specimen think they're better...have also already verified their ramification is really solid (have developed a full hedge at my place :p ) Have many dozens of Live & Laurel seedlings/whips, thinking to take like 10 Laurel whips and wrap them around the wider/duller piece of wood, curving-with it, to do a fusion-of-seedlings on top of the tanuki (with the fusings of the whips, and the "taking of tanuki wood" both needing many years, of course!)
 

HENDO

Shohin
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The pointy piece screams juniper to me!

This year I started a tanuki using Ashe Juniper deadwood and leggy procumbens. You could try something similar with yours - perhaps just informal upright?

I screwed the wood onto a polyethylene block to stabilize, and establish a good height in the container where the wood wouldn't be submerged in wet soil, to slow down rot. Beforehand I also saturated the flat base of the wood (~1/4" up) with epoxy to mitigate rot.

The channels for the juniper whips were carved with a dremel and chisels. I went slightly over whip diameter for the channels and deep enough so that they were stuck at least halfway in. It was very helpful to follow the natural grain of the wood with the channels.

Some heavy bending was involved so I used 2 screws per whip at the base - next time I would definitely add washers as well to lessen the splitting of the trunks. Zip ties used for the mid/upper sections, be sure to add padding so they don't bite in too much - something I learned later.

Keep the lower branches to start off with, even if they aren't part of the overall plan.

Make sure you can see the trunk enter the soil from your planned front, to lessen the effect of tanuki/trickery.

Planted in an oversized container to encourage a lot of growth and get these trunks swelling into the channels.

Fun project!

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Michael P

Chumono
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Hendo, nice start on your tanuki!

SU2, I think you biggest obstacle is that neither of your pieces of wood have a convincing nebari. This helps to make Hendo's tanuki look good. Your pointed dark colored piece is better in this regard. Maybe you could position your scion(s) so that the bases are visible and let them simulate a nebari.

I started a tanuki last year. The year before I killed a bald cypress forest by doing something STUPID. I could not bear to throw out the biggest dead tree because it had a great flared nebari and surface roots. So I carved some channels in the trunk and planted creeping fig cuttings at the base. Right now it looks very leafy and disorganized, but in time the creeping figs will develop thick woody parts and I can remove most of the foliage that obscures the trunk and nebari of the lamented bald cypress.

I'm eager to see how yours turns out.
 

HENDO

Shohin
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Hendo, nice start on your tanuki!

SU2, I think you biggest obstacle is that neither of your pieces of wood have a convincing nebari. This helps to make Hendo's tanuki look good. Your pointed dark colored piece is better in this regard. Maybe you could position your scion(s) so that the bases are visible and let them simulate a nebari.

I started a tanuki last year. The year before I killed a bald cypress forest by doing something STUPID. I could not bear to throw out the biggest dead tree because it had a great flared nebari and surface roots. So I carved some channels in the trunk and planted creeping fig cuttings at the base. Right now it looks very leafy and disorganized, but in time the creeping figs will develop thick woody parts and I can remove most of the foliage that obscures the trunk and nebari of the lamented bald cypress.

I'm eager to see how yours turns out.
I would REALLY like to see this BC Tanuki, that's an awesome idea! Especially how the wood will naturally preserve itself much better than most.

P.S. what a coincidence, I just messed up on a BC forest myself this week, 2 of the trees I planted were dead ☹ - should've known since neither had buds popping yet.
 

Arnold

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A tip for the future, its better to use a small and thin head nail than a screw, make a small scar like if you prune a branch with concave pruner then put the nail very carefully to not damage the bark, when the tree scars over the nail its totally invisible
 

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