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Rusty Harris

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I just made contact with someone recently, who is able to develop real knees on collected bald cypress in the pot, something that supposedly is near impossible to do. I got so excited to learn something new about these trees! Will I try bald cypress? Not sure, since the winters and summers are both extreme here in Kansas. But it got me going.

Sounds like a pretty knowledgeable person when in comes to bald cypress. Wonder why he hasn't shared this information openly on the forums? Maybe he doesn't want to have to suffer the mudslinging of the know-it-all naysayers.
 

agraham

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I read somewhere about a way to introduce knees to bald cypress bonsai.It is done by bending roots very abruptly and then binding them together vertically above the soil level.I realise that this is sort of vague,but I am not particularly good at describing processes.Maybe I can find a link.

andy
 

Rusty Harris

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I read somewhere about a way to introduce knees to bald cypress bonsai.It is done by bending roots very abruptly and then binding them together vertically above the soil level.I realise that this is sort of vague,but I am not particularly good at describing processes.Maybe I can find a link.

andy
The knees you are referring to are of the engineered kind, not like the ones Chris mentioned that are "thrown up" naturally by bald cypress. The engineered ones will always look that way, engineered and unnatural .
 

Behr

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First - I have a BC tagged in the field and want to dig it this year. It is about 20' tall, has a 10" caliper trunk, is about 6" at a height of about 36", has lots of low branches but has never been styled. It was planted about 8 years ago over a 6" tile, and has radial roots that are over 2" in diameter and go straight down as Dale and Chris mention. I am in zone 8. My questions are: when is the best time to dig this, what is the best mix to put it into, and will it push radial roots if I cut the large roots near the surface (i.e. like a cutting as I have seen some collectors post trees dug from swamps in the south with no roots what-so-ever). I was planning on digging the first of March, putting it into a Boon-ish mix with lava, pumice and turface, and planting it into a Home Depot Mason's tub that is something like 16" x 19" x 5" deep inside dimensions. Thoughts and comments?
My apologies for the delay getting to this post, and indeed I probably should wait and let those that apparently have much more experience with bald cypress than I do answer your questions...You have asked a couple very good questions here, and although I have been working with the species since the late 60's I am still learning new things every growing season...

The best time to 'collect' [which is what you are truly doing] here in the south, and particularly in the swamp areas, is mid-winter usually December and January...There are a couple reasons for this...Firstly the trees are dormant at this time of the growing season, and when removing the top and roots both it has proven to be the best [read safest] time for the tree...IF only repotting the tree and trimming back the roots [maintenance for a styled tree] it is best to wait until the leaves are beginning to harden off...The second reason is; the snakes, gators, and other critters, are also somewhat dormant, or at least much less active, at this time of the year, and the water level is usually a bit lower...

For the soil mix, the "Boon-ish mix with lava, pumice and turface" will probably work fine depending on your watering habits...These trees are extremely thirsty trees, and even though they are very 'tuff' and hardy they will very quickly die if they don't have water...The most common cause of death is a lack of water, either because of our watering habits, or because the fast growing roots have so thoroughly filled a container that it has become almost impenetrable for water...I would recommend using a heavy organic mix in the training pot or a show pot...I usually use a mix of approximately 50% mushroom compost and 50% un-sifted turface or oil-dry...If it is a 'grow' container and I am trying to achieve maximum growth, I prefer one with no drainage [although this is a much debated subject]...

Concerning "will it push radial roots if I cut the large roots near the surface", the answer is yes, IF they are kept moist...I would definitely encourage you to have a minimum of 2 inches of soil above any larger roots that are cut if you want them to put out feeder roots from the cut portion...I have even 'split' thicker roots in the past and had them to put out new roots from the cut areas...Large roots can be split horizontally and the bottom section removed to encourage lateral roots from the sides...These can also be wired to allow a bit of bending on them to achieve a more pleasing appearance, however again they must be kept well below the surface and moist until the new roots are formed and strong enough to acclimate to the drier conditions of exposure...

The Home Depot 'masons' tub would be an excellent choice in my opinion...
Second - I was going to chop it somewhere in the 36" high range (to be determined when I actually have the tree in front of me and not guessing on dimensions from what I remember), with a flat cut. I have been intrigued by the flat top cypress, as it is a much more elegant look than the powerful (yet wonderful) redwood-looking trees that Guy produces. I was then going to style the tree along the lines of something like this: http://www.bonsai-wbff.org/nabf/newsletter2/bcarticle.htm . Thoughts and comments?
My first thoughts in reading this is; What is your term 'caliper' referring to?...Do you mean circumference or diameter?...Styling any tree is always a matter of the artist's preferences and experiences, but in my opinion it is extremely difficult to create a convincing 'flat-top' form with a tree that has a large diameter base...Unless the base tapers immediately to a smaller size then gradually to the top, it is almost impossible to achieve the appropriate ratio [in the proximity of 20:1] for a convincing mature tree...Trees which have always grown in water have a very distinctive swelling/flare at the base [I usually call them 'big-bottomed' gals]...This is true not only of the bald cypress, but also the 'willow leaf oak', the 'water elm' and the 'tupelo'...Trees with a gradual taper from a large base to apex are not best suited to the 'flat-top' form to me...I have read the linked method many times, although I have never attempted this method...If you decide to pursue this method I do hope you will keep the forum informed...There may have been others that have tried this, but I am not aware of it, and I do find it interesting that I have never been able to find any reference to how the tree has progressed since the article was written...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 

rlist

Shohin
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Mr. Behr-

Thanks for the detailed and informative response. As there are some climate (and critter) differences between our two locations, I will use your information as a guideline as opposed to a rule. I am sure you understand...

I will still collect in the first week of March. Note, up until about two weeks ago this portion of the field was frozen solid and had 2 inches of snow on the ground. So, the trees are just starting to stir. I will use a mason's tub and my Boon-ish mix, but I think I will do two other things: I will drill limited numbers of holes in the bottom (say 5 1/4" holes). This will allow drainage, but will also allow for holding extra moisture. Second, I will probably mulch across the top of the pot to help hold moisture. As Darrell W says, we have two seasons: The Rainy Season and Road Work Season - so this should allow an optimal amount of moisture for a water loving tree - with a little monitoring and manipulating of my watering habits.

As for caliper, I am refering to diameter. It is quite a big tree, similar to the one shown in the article and why I referenced it. This year will be dedicated to getting it out of the ground and into the pot, and it will be a year before I get to the styling stage. So, another year of thoughts on what I would like to accomplish will be in the works.

Thanks again for all the info, and again to Wes I do hope this helps you as well and is not an official thread hijacking...
 

BonsaiWes

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More design play. Going back again to the issue of the possible trunk swelling I fear for the future Mr. Behr offered a possible design solution that I can continue to capitalize on without the bother of apex bulging. I made a quick mock up picture and have included a link with a flattop bearing the trunk swelling one should avoid. The same type of taper chop I had completed last year but now it will be better located loosing the sling shot and branch union but still allowing a double set of main branching to support a crown. I also wonder if just removing the top left branch would solve the issue w/o requiring a re chop.



http://www.lcbsbonsai.org/Gallery/BbAlanW1/BaldcypressFlattop.jpg
 

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Dale Cochoy

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Wes,
I see no problem with removing this left branch and carving in some taper. This would be a SIMPLE tree to carve taper into! and, you will find that in spring this tree is going to pop buds all along the trunk allowing you to pick and choose your next few branches. Buds will pop along the tapering carve and you can pick another branch a little below that old branch where one will pop along the tapering cut. This seems like easy pickin's to me. I'd not worry too much about overly swelling at this cut, especially if tapering via carving and once-in-a-while touchup of that carving.

RList,
Your description of the tree you want to work reminded me of this demo tree I did a few years ago in the Melbourne. Fl club. You can see the tree "as offered". I made use of a large hollow "knot" on side that had the best rootage. The knot was from a long-ago ripped off branch. I carved the front out from the knot upward and tapered the carving to above the last top branch( this carving also ran a short distance down the back to increase the taper). As you can see from the "before" shot, I didn't have many branches left to work with once I shortened the tree to the scale I wanted for carving my taper. But, as with Wills tree, I expect buds came everywhere in the spring ( This was done in mid December in mid Florida). The similarity to your description to me seems that this tree, as I left it ,could EASILY be made into a flat top starting with the branching as I left it.

regards,
Dale
 

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BonsaiWes

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Okay,

We have arrived at the final stage of spring work, nothing to do now but let mother nature do it's thing. Will be reaching 70f this week so we are all fertilised and ready to grow.
 

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Okay,

We have arrived at the final stage of spring work, nothing to do now but let mother nature do it's thing. Will be reaching 70f this week so we are all fertilised and ready to grow.
Wes... Having learned to love this style (entirely because of your enthusiasum for it), I have to confess I am eager to see what this next year will bring for it. I think it's going to be a fine year. :D

Your friend as ever,

Victrinia
 

rlist

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Dale-

Thanks for the reply, information and images. At this point the more information I have to digest, the better. Will update as the tree is collected (next week), and as things progress.
 
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Interesting discussion we got going here...One additional point in favor of putting a BC in a shallower container is to promote spread of the root base in the horizontal plane. A very good story about development of a cypress (although it was a monctezuma) can be found in John Naka's Techniques volume 2. Just my 2 cents worth.

Jorge
 

darrellw

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I was then going to style the tree along the lines of something like this: http://www.bonsai-wbff.org/nabf/newsletter2/bcarticle.htm
Hi Rich,

Great link! I had something similar in mind for some nursery BC that I've been eyeing (they are in 25 gallon containers, 10-20' tall), but my plan wasn't as thought out as that method. I hope they are still there!

-Darrell
 
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rlist

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BC Update

OK. Yesterday was the day to pull this thing out of the ground. Somehow Jason did most of the work - must be that big shovel he wields...

I was delusional on the size - remember, I am a fisherman - but it is still big. As it stands now, it is 6" diameter just above the buttress, which proceeds to spread to 14" wide where the future exposed potting level would be. I cut the three main roots flat and parallel to the bottom of the tub, and they sit 2" from the bottom of the tub with 3" of soil over them. The soil mix is 25% pumice, 25% lava & 50% aged fir bark. I drilled a 1/4" hole in each corner of the tub, 1" up from the bottom - to hold water in the bottom of the tub that everyone suggests, but it should drain and allow some air circulation down towards the roots. If I need more moisture during the summer, I can always plug the holes and/or mulch the top of the soil. It is planted into a plastic HD mason's tub.

The height of the exposed tree is 41", and with another 3 below soil the finished trunk height as is would be 44". With an esitmate of 4" additional to complete a flat top (assuming everything goes right), the finished height would be 48" on a 6" trunk, or 8:1 ratio. Not the 20:1 mentioned above, but I cut at the current point because it just looked right. I might even reduce it in height down the road, but that is yet to be determined.

I also cut off all the branches, as well, it felt right at the time I guess. My reasoning was they didn't seem to be exactly where I wanted, I believe these sprout like weeds all over the place, I wasn't sure the scale was what I wanted, and I felt that if these grow as fast as reputed, worst case I would be adding 2 years to the design to get the branches exactly the way I wanted instead of working with what I kept. My question on the stubs is, do BC in the wild have any dead wood, and how well do they heal over the knots if I use a spherical cutter to reduce them?

Dale, Behr, and others - you have been so helpful so far. This is my first go with BC and I am thankful. Any additional comments would be much appreciated!
 

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nsmar4211

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Rlist-
Most of the BC's I saw at our dig did not have extensive dead wood. Several hollow bases and some had a few dead branches high up (I live in Florida and it was a mature stand, mostly flattops!), but nothing like you can see on say a juniper. In the wild, the dead branches would be perched on by critters and eventually broken off I'm guessing. There were several completely hollow trees (all too big to dig), which was neat.

I was panicking about my collected BC (dug January 27th), considering that this is March... until one of my club members told me not to panic until after April gets here. Sure enough, three days later, I spotted branches! So they took 6 weeks to sprout... I am noticing the high buds are developing a LOT faster than the low buds, so I read this thread with interest as there's not enough taper on mine to do much besides a flattop style.

One of mine resides in a shallow feed pan, basically a round cement tub, with no holes in it-I put yard sand (in my yard, its basically sand and composted organics) and keep the water level to the top. The second one resides in a taller tub, with about 15 small holes melted into it-I too wasn't so sure about the standing water thing and wanted to be able to control the moisture a bit (also figuring I could block the holes if needed). I keep the drainable pot well watered. Both trees are in the shade of a pine tree most of the day, and both trees are progressing at the same rate so far.

Am following your tree with interest!

Susan and crew
 

BonsaiWes

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I am noticing the high buds are developing a LOT faster than the low buds,



Susan and crew




Hi S&C,


Bc is probably the most apical dominate species there is, we have to take this into account when growing them for bonsai. I am not sure what stages of training yours are in but for one like the tree I showed here the top will need to be kept checked every season to keep energy running to the lower branching. With that being said they have no problems throwing lower growth by any means so getting a branch just where you need it is only a matter of time and good growing conditions.
 

Behr

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I cut the three main roots flat and parallel to the bottom of the tub, and they sit 2" from the bottom of the tub with 3" of soil over them. The soil mix is 25% pumice, 25% lava & 50% aged fir bark. I drilled a 1/4" hole in each corner of the tub, 1" up from the bottom - to hold water in the bottom of the tub that everyone suggests, but it should drain and allow some air circulation down towards the roots. If I need more moisture during the summer, I can always plug the holes and/or mulch the top of the soil. It is planted into a plastic HD mason's tub.
Mr. Rich,

This all sounds like a very good plan, and you certainly have a nice looking trunk to work with...The fact that you covered the cut ends deeply will be something you will be happy you did in the future...The species is prone to die back on cut roots if they are allowed to become dry before they sprout new feeder roots...They also like an acid soil which your 'aged fir bark' will contribute to in about 8 or 6 years, but not likely before you will be changing the soil...I recommend and use 'Miracid' or a similar product[actually I usually get the cheap stuff at Wal-Mart]...Adding an 'acidifying' slow release fertilizer like the ones sold for use on azaleas and rhododendrons is also a good idea...

The height of the exposed tree is 41", and with another 3 below soil the finished trunk height as is would be 44". With an estimate of 4" additional to complete a flat top (assuming everything goes right), the finished height would be 48" on a 6" trunk, or 8:1 ratio. Not the 20:1 mentioned above, but I cut at the current point because it just looked right. I might even reduce it in height down the road, but that is yet to be determined.
The 20:1 ratio is not set in rock any more than the 6:1 ratio we often hear and read for the more 'traditional' forms...That was a ratio suggested by Vaughn Banting and associates many years ago as a more proper proportion for the flat-top bald cypress form...This ratio is assuming one is contemplating a very old tree that has survived the ravages of high winds, lightening, or hurricanes, however all of these weather factors along with physical damage, disease, and pests, can often alter the ratio tremendously yet the tree will still develop the flat-top form...It is only a personal opinion of mine, but if the ratio is closer to 10:1 than 20:1, I prefer to see some damage near the apex of the tree to suggest that the tree has sustained some severe hardship at some time in the past which caused the shorter height compared to the girth...

I also cut off all the branches, as well, it felt right at the time I guess. My reasoning was they didn't seem to be exactly where I wanted, I believe these sprout like weeds all over the place, I wasn't sure the scale was what I wanted, and I felt that if these grow as fast as reputed, worst case I would be adding 2 years to the design to get the branches exactly the way I wanted instead of working with what I kept. My question on the stubs is, do BC in the wild have any dead wood, and how well do they heal over the knots if I use a spherical cutter to reduce them?
As with all softer wood trees there are times when one is able to see dead branches and stubs 'in the wild', although they usually do not last nearly as long as on the pines and junipers...For this reason some will say deciduous trees and softer wood trees should not have 'jins', but in reality when we create the image of a tree we are also working with any given moment in time...Yes you can have jin on your bald cypress, but it will require some 'out of the ordinary' treatment to maintain them for any length of time...They will rot very quickly...'Shari' and hollow trunks are quite common in bald cypress 'in the wild', and look very appropriate on bonsai, however they too will require special treatment to maintain the current appearance IF that is what one desires...I think in most cases it is better to allow nature to take its' course even on our bonsai...I usually cut branches that I am removing as closely as possible...I will even use a 'knob cutter' to make a very slight indention...They have a tendency to heal over [form callous] better than any species I have worked with...

You have a great looking piece of material here, and I look forward to seeing how you develop it in the future...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 
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HI, I'm new to this particular forum, just discovered it. Not having gotten an answer to my question elsewhere, I will post it here and hope one of the BC "expert" may have pity on me.

I bought this BC last fall at about 12' height. I decided to go for the standard BC style, not flat top.

I chopped early March, chopped roots, repotted into same 25 gal pot and just recently carved away behind the new leader. I followed a method recommended by Gary Marchal where you leave a little bulging ledge at the back of the chop to help with taper, esp. prevent reverse taper as the leader thickens. Made sense to me.

Now my question is: How much more should I carve immediately behind the new leader to get it to grow straight up, not have the "bump" out front? I have seen radical pics of carving into the wood behind the leader and bending the leader back straight into the trunk. That would not work with Gary's suggestion of the ledge approach. I didn't want to kill the leader and stopped as shown in the pic. Can one of you BC afficionados clue me in? Thanks.
 

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Behr

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Mr./Ms. thedavidzoo,

Although I have used a similar method in the past, I am really not fond of this type of chop...It is difficult to tell from the photo what you are actually dealing with here, but I believe the 'hump' you have carved is a bit too large...Being able to see more of the actual chop and possibly even the entire tree would help to give a direction of pursuit...When I used this method I also cut a bit of a channel near the cambium to allow the initial 'roll over' room to become smoother at a later time...I also always found it useful to carve some wood away just behind the leader to allow one to bring it back more over the center of the trunk...I realize this is somewhat different than what is illustrated on Mr. Gary's website, but much depends on the size of the material you are working with, and the final results desired...

I have no clue where you reside, so do not know about the growing conditions you are dealing with...Nor do I know whether there are any experienced people in your area that have worked with more than one or two bald cypress...These are also things to consider...What is the soil composition?...What size is the tree?...How long is your growing season?...What are your temperatures like?...What is your 'goal' for the tree?...And most important, can you post some photos showing more of the chop area and tree?...From this photo it appears the caliper of the tree is not very large, judging by the few 'pre-leaves' showing in the photo...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 

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