Yew Collection Advice

ben_sai

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I found two large yew that a lady wants removed. The only problem is she wants it removed now in the middle of summer. I am planning on going by Sunday morning so any help will be appreciated. I will also post some pics once it has been done.

I have had success collecting trees before, I just don't have experience with Yew.

The two main questions I will just ask in case they are not covered:
1. These are big trees, how much foliage can I take off when I dig them?
2. How much of the original soil should I remove prior to planting them in grow boxes?

Thanks,
Ben
 

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Tachigi

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Ben...good luck.

Yew collection this time of year is rarely successful...though not totally impossible. You need to keep as much of the root ball as possible and when moved to your place kept in shade. By the looks of your intended targets you best have a strong back because the root ball will be substantial :eek:
 

ben_sai

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Tom,

I appreciate the suggestions. How much should I cut the trees back?

Ben
 

Dav4

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My first question would be whether, even in the appropriate season, these trees are worth the effort to collect. I've seen many landscape/hedge yews like these, and the majority are composed of many branches spreading from the base. There almost never is a single compelling trunk buried in the mass of foliage. If I were going to spend the better part of a day digging one of those brutes, I'd want something exceptional to lug away. If there isn't one heck of a trunk hidden in those bushes, I'd think twice before tackling these two.

Dave
 

amkhalid

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I completely agree with Dav4. Most hedge yews like that have multiple upright trunks and are not terribly interesting for bonsai.

But if they are unique and cool, backbreaking labour is a small price to pay :)
 

Tachigi

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Its really whats below the soil line on hedge yews. This one below that I collected, at first glance, was very similar to what Ben is showing...but upon further investigation a stonker of a trunk was found. Its all about the evaluation of the material and worth the effort expended.
 

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irene_b

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Them are some back breaker Yews Tom!!
 

ben_sai

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Stonker!!? --the Yew Story continues.

I went by that lady's house Sunday. Her boyfriend was interested in what I was doing and I explained to him I would have a better chance of keeping the tree alive If I could dig it in the fall and so he talked his girlfriend into letting me do that. Her stipulation was that I take both yews since I opted out of that original option once I saw in person how big they were. I agreed to that.

This is yew #1, what to do with #2 and how to do it will be based on the forum members helpful feedback (within the limits of my agreement with the lady) since I have yet to make any cuts on tree #2.

Here are some pics. The house was built in 1920 and I have no doubt due to the size of the trunk these yews are at least that old.

Interesting things I found in the tree
A wiffle ball, a Nerf football, asphalt shingles, concrete pieces, terracotta pot pieces, chunks of brick, a 6 foot tall metal pole anchored into the ground, 2 softball sized rocks, 3 rocks the size of golf balls, a plastic boomerang, garbage, and a picture of Tachigi.

The red circle is the nick my chainsaw made in the metal pole I found sticking up in the middle of the tree, which broke my chain.

To me, if I can keep this alive, it looks like a fairly amazing find. The trunk is massive, at least for anything I have.

I made circular cuts into the ground with my shovel around the trunk in hopes of stimulating finer root growth by the time the fall arrives so that I will increase my chances when I lift this.

I know opinions are not in short supply around here and I realize I have a long way to go to be a respectable hobbyist so let me have it. what did i do right, what do i still need to work on? do you like the trees potential? Survival potential? etc. I'm interested in growing, not keeping my feelings from being hurt.
Thanks

Ben
 

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Tachigi

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I know opinions are not in short supply around here and I realize I have a long way to go to be a respectable hobbyist so let me have it. what did i do right, what do i still need to work on? do you like the trees potential? Survival potential? etc. I'm interested in growing, not keeping my feelings from being hurt.
Thanks

Ben
Ben,

I think this would make/made some nice material. Your enthusiasm in whittling it down may have been over the top. With us being well into the summer the lack of foliage may spell its demise, especially if it gets sun in the heat of the day. This material, more than most likely, will not pop anymore new buds this year and spring is a long way off. Winter protection will be critical if your material makes it through the summer.

With fall collection on yews you have to take a larger root ball than in spring. Also do not bare-root in fall after collection, wait till the following spring. This will protect any fine feeders that are left after the material is lifted.

What did you do right?
You identified material worth expending the effort on. Even with the multiple leaders, the core(trunk), is nice. The unusable leaders can/could be can be carved. Deadwood and yews are symbiotic and go very well together. The trick will be finding the trunk line and getting new buds to pop o the main trunk.

Good luck with this venture. You have taken on a very long term project. Do not rush it be patient. Hope your material makes it.
 

ben_sai

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Thanks for feedback. For yew #2 I will cut back less and implement the other suggestions as well

Ben
 

treebeard55

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Last October I collected two hedge yews in Indianapolis. (See the thread "Free yews for the digging.") On Tom's advice I took the biggest rootballs I could manage -- four men were required to lift one of them into my car's trunk. Also on Tom's advice I left the rootballs intact, wrapped in plastic, until spring. They overwintered, well mulched, in a protected corner of the back yard.

Potting them up in April gave me a chance to see what was below the soil line. Both are quite decent. Two feet up they're nothing but a mass of sticks, but those sticks will be removed anyway. Both have put out new growth below where the soil line used to be.

Like yours, mine are long-term projects. But if I can keep them thriving, and if they respond with new growth in the lowest 18 inches, I think they'll be worth it in the end.
 

ben_sai

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Wanted to post some pics as an update to yew progress.

I ended up digging both yews but first I decided I needed help. I called Randy Knight of Oregon Bonsai (he had never met me) and told him about the situation and asked his help. I told him he could have the 2nd yew if he would help me and teach me what he would do and I would sort of just be his helper.

It was funny because I think he was confused at why some stranger would call him and offer him an 80+ year old yew.

I learned a lot and we were done much sooner than I had expected. He ended up taking a large boxwood the homeowner wanted removed as well.

After I unloaded my tree, I cleaned off a lot of the mud near the bottom and tried to keep all the fine roots intact with original soil. I had to saw the base which was embedded with rock and then I planted it in one of those 20 gal Rubbermaid containers with holes drilled in the bottom. I attached wooden feet to the bottom so their air and water can flow freely. This container is ugly as sin but then again so is my backyard.

For any of you who love beautiful wood, freshly cut yew is a brilliant mix of colors and the purple is amazing.

Randy told me that this yew- yew #1 is really nice material. Specifically that it has the potential to be one of the nicer Yew's in the US. That made me feel a bit of pressure because frankly, this tree intimidates me. I would love to hear thoughts or ideas on this tree.

Ben
 

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Dav4

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My thoughts on this trunk is that it has alot of potential, but needs atleast several years of growth/recovery before any styling occurs. I wouldn't do anything to this tree accept feed and water. While it recovers, study it closely from every side. Kevin Wilson, a European artist has styled many large yews like this one. I'd become familiar with his work. His carving is exceptional.
 

mcpesq817

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Wow, that's a heck of a yew. Nice work :D

I have two recently dug yews that I repotted, and I'm planning to leave them alone for at least two years. I think I remember reading something about yews storing a lot of energy in the trunk, so you think you have a healthy tree that you can work on soon after collection, but after those inner reserves are depleted you have a dead tree.

Take a look at Graham Potter's videos on YouTube for inspiration as well.
 

sfhellwig

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Beautiful score. I would love to do something this large but have recently learned digging is more work than you ever think it's going to be. You said you finished sooner than expected, I would love to see the hole after lifting:D.

Might I suggest that wherever you put it, build it onto a lazy suzan stand. Many people build their turntables with a mechanism from the hardware store. When I bought one it was rated ridiculously high like 200lbs. There was a slightly larger one that I think was rated for 300. It would be tough to build the wood to support it but it would allow you to constantly study it from all angles. Unless you have a place to put it with room around it. Just a thought. I know I try not to move my larger pots/flats any more than I have to.
 

rockm

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Hope you've started saving now for the pot this monster will eventually go in :D and you know a good lower back surgeon :D
 
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