Ugly thorny misfit

Smoke

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This pyracantha was sold by a friend of mine that no longer wished to work with this ugly thing. The subject has a terrible root mass and has been neglected for sometime without direction.

My idea is to layer the roots to achieve back budding and later remove the old gnarled portion thus exposing a new line as in the cropped photo.
 

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Smoke

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Today at a workshop I did the necessary things to get past the pitiful nature of the material to works towards refinement.

The roots were incised as in a layer and prepared for hormone. I did as many of the large roots as I thought I would keep. I also cut a few windows in the trunk area at the same level as those done on the roots.
 

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Smoke

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All the superflous branches were removed that would not add to the later design. The tree was prepered for the wire now and all the branches would be wired.
 

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Smoke

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After wireing it was decided that the long arm that was to be the apex was too straight and uninteresting. I decided to take it back to a more interesting place on the main trunk. The slanting nature of the trunk coupled with the beautiful shari on the dead snag would look best if protruding from the canopy. The crown will be kept small and compact so as not to allow foliage to obscure this feature.

The pot was prepared for the straight akadama that will grow the roots by building a fence to hold the soil. It was filled and watered in.

The tree was wired on after removal of the offending crown and a new apex chosen. Now I wait and grow. At the rate pyracantha's grow foliage I should have a very substantial canopy by fall.

Updates later....Al
 

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Rick Moquin

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Not knowing the species Al, I thought you would of got rid of the large branch/trunk extending to the right, and growing from the chop near the trunk as you have done many times in the past. Thoughts??
 

greerhw

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I have no doubt this will be a nice tree like all your trees, but come on I ain't going to be for ever, lets see some stuff I can appreciate now while I'm still here. You're forcing me to stay healthy to see some of your projects. The Scotch may get me before all your sh*t is done.

Ciao,
Hary
 

Smoke

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I have no doubt this will be a nice tree like all your trees, but come on I ain't going to be for ever, lets see some stuff I can appreciate now while I'm still here. You're forcing me to stay healthy to see some of your projects. The Scotch may get me before all your sh*t is done.

Ciao,
Hary

Sorry Harry but thats what real bonsai is all about. Hell even my grankid could save up their birthday card money and buy a decent bonsai. I like the challange of making something from nothing.

Two years is all I ask. Heck even you have a few that will need that long;):eek:
 
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milehigh_7

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This pyracantha was sold by a friend of mine that no longer wished to work with this ugly thing.

Your friend does know what trees look like when you get done with them right? If it was me I would have just let you borrow it and get it back from you in a couple of years. :p

I bet it turns out great.
 

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Your friend does know what trees look like when you get done with them right? If it was me I would have just let you borrow it and get it back from you in a couple of years. :p

I bet it turns out great.

oh he knows...That is why he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
 

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Small update. The layers started to emitt roots 19 days after cuts were made. The roots are doing quite well with some starting lignification. This plant will stay in the layer condition till spring and be set free from it's ugly base at that time. Untill then I can continue to work on the canopy. I think some more deadwood will be done later. Maybe just connecting some shari areas with some hollowing of the trunk in those areas to add movement in that rather boreing slanting section.

The photos start with a before after initial cut back

With all the talk recently about akadama, I might show the product I use for layering and cuttings. It is a akadama that is rolled round rather than jagged. It is medium fired and will break down rather easily. I use it because it will not interlock and collapse. This stuff stays apart because it is round and allows far more air to be drawn into the soil.

that is all
Al
 

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Attila Soos

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My gosh, Al, just get rid of that ugly thing!


The whole success depends on creating a brand new nebari. Otherwise, no design will help.

This is the time when a greenhouse would be a huge asset. In a humid environment, the layer would yield much more new roots than growing outdoors in the sun. Just a few new roots won't help, you need them all around the nebari. The trouble is that you can't completely remove the bark, since some of the roots are hidden inside the tangled mess. In a greenhouse, you can just saw the whole base off where you want it, and the tree will live, since there is over 90% humidity inside, so the leaves can get all the water from the air.

I just got a small greenhouse for a few hundred bucks and it already makes all the difference: I saved a newly dug pyracantha that was dying - so the greenhouse already earned its price. You should really get one.
 

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My gosh, Al, just get rid of that ugly thing!


The whole success depends on creating a brand new nebari. Otherwise, no design will help.

This is the time when a greenhouse would be a huge asset. In a humid environment, the layer would yield much more new roots than growing outdoors in the sun. Just a few new roots won't help, you need them all around the nebari. The trouble is that you can't completely remove the bark, since some of the roots are hidden inside the tangled mess. In a greenhouse, you can just saw the whole base off where you want it, and the tree will live, since there is over 90% humidity inside, so the leaves can get all the water from the air.

I just got a small greenhouse for a few hundred bucks and it already makes all the difference: I saved a newly dug pyracantha that was dying - so the greenhouse already earned its price. You should really get one.


The roots are made above that tangled mess. There roots all around the trunk and on top of every cut I made on all those large 1/2 inch roots. I will be able to drop the entire root ball in spring.

I think you need to spend a summer in Fresno. I grew up in Southern California till I was ten years old so I know your weather down there. A green house here would be good for a couple months out of the year, then when summer hits it would be the worlds largest convection oven. The University has one but the mechanical windows, climate controlled fans and heaters, as well as the automatic watering systen with foggers is just a little out of my budget. In fact they have three rollinng water driven coolers that they can wheel in there when it gets too hot.

No thanks, I'll keep to the manual system.

BTW..I know it's ugly...but thats it's charm;) Just you wait...maybe I'll name it "The Swan"
 

Attila Soos

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I think you need to spend a summer in Fresno. I grew up in Southern California till I was ten years old so I know your weather down there. A green house here would be good for a couple months out of the year, then when summer hits it would be the worlds largest convection oven.

Yes, the green house would be an oven from July till end of October. That is 4 months. This time, it is not really worth using it, unless you install a mister and a fan that sucks the air out (btw, for a small greenhouse, this is very low budget). But this is the period when you don't need the greenhouse, since all the "action" in plant life here takes place from November till June, such as propagation/cuttings, re-potting, layering, and grafting. So the greenhouse would be very useful for the spring and early summer growing period (8 months), and useless for the other 4 months.
 
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Smoke

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The time was ripe to remove the ugly portion of the tree. The tree was removed from the soil and the soil cleared away from the roots. Upon clearing the soil all sorts of things were found in the root ball. Broken pottery shards, metal screening like would be found on a security door. I have no idea why this stuff is in there.

I had a great radial root spread around the entire trunk. All the roots had emerged from the correct height allowing me to sever the root mass from the base of the tree. This was accomplished useing a band saw after flopping the new roots onto the trunk moving them from the path of the saw blade.

After servering the root mass from the tree base a pot was prepared. This small oval Sara Rayner would fit the bill nicely. The tree was planted out in my usual mix and tied into the pot. The base of the tree saw the band saw a few more times to get the position of the tree right in the pot.
 

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Smoke

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With the tree tied in I could add the soil. The tree was watered in and I began pruneing the tree for shape. A few branches were wired and a few were cut off.

Did I improve the plant?
Asthetically as a bonsai I think so.

Will it ever be a great tree?
Hell no, but it was a great exercise in seeing if I could radically remove such a terrible root base on a tree. This technique could be used to help a really good tree with a poor base.

What does the future hold?
Well as I see it....I think there may be two really good trees here. A slanting shohin with the dead wood on top useing the straight portion of the top after the trunk thickness change.

And a more upright shohin tree with the base. The base will need some carving with maybe a hollowed trunk to induce better taper.

Time will tell on both these projects till the tree recovers and shows strong signs of growth.

To a happy winter, Al
 

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Smoke

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Al, I'm curious about a jin on a firethorn. How does the quality of the wood hold up? I have a couple that I'd like to jin.

As long as the dead wood is in the upper portion of the tree and not subject to a continually wet environment it will last fairly well. Wet...forget about it. Rots pretty fast.

Good Job Al ! I like what you did. Steve

Thanks Steve, as the previous owner of this tree I am flattered you like what I did. You want it back?
 

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