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Rick Moquin

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I personally value the information contained on a forum where the interaction between its members is for the purpose of acquiring knowledge vice bickering.

Of late I have noticed the decline in quality of many forums on the internet. It is deplorable to see how quickly a forum can slide down the slippery slopes of irrelevant information and complacency. It was indeed refreshing to come to BN and see many knowledgeable enthusiasts once again re-united sharing information and knowledge with the vast majority at large.

I have been lurking in the background for quite some time. I refrained from any participation until I could take the pulse of the forum in order to hopefully contribute in a positive way. In the area I am from, bonsai clubs/societies are non existent. Although on several occasions in the last couple of years I have tried to generate interest, the interest i short lived. Although I can generate enthusiasm during seminars put on by "The Home Depot" it seems that bonsai in the Province is more of a curious oddity than what the art truely is.

Therefore without the exchange of information available on the internet, one would be left contemplating long hours with their heads in books and reference and, left to their own device in their development, books and reference material are great but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Where does one go to clarify an obscure point mentioned in said references? The one on one coaching that takes place at club meetings or workshops is extremely valuable to an aspiring bonsai enthusiast. Bonsai has only really kicked off in the last ten years or so with the advent of the internet. Yes, one can argue that bonsai was well and kicking before that. It has been around for thousands of years, no one will argue that point. What I am trying to convey is that the exponential growth of bonsai in the last decade is in large part due to the internet and the free flow of information available to all walks of life.

Over the last year I have seen the declined of many learned enthusiasts participation on the forums. These folks that we thumb are noses at, are the greatest source of live information avalaible. For those that think these seasoned enthusiasts are not extremely valuable, I suggest they re-visit their position on the subject. Why is it that "these" enthusiasts are reluctant to participate in a free exchange of information amongst community members? Is it they are tired of the bickering, the lack of seriousness of some enthusiast, or their is nothing to gain from such participation. These enthusiasts are perhaps tired of having to constantly lead a horse to water, only to have the horse refuse repeatidly to drink. Instead of acknowledging, thanking them for their information, assistance and wisdom, we too often snob them and call them "elitist".

The following tree was acquired in May '05, I thought it had great potential. It is a Chamaecyparis Obtusa "Nana" and had full intention on developing it as an formal upright. Hinokis do not back bud on old wood, a tidbit of information provided by my frequent participation on the forums. This particular tree has a fault that I am in the process of rectifying. The trunk has a nice basal flare at the soil line, unfortunately, below that flare is a straight section of trunk for approx. an inch or so before the nebari begins. Last spring a tourniquet was applied at the root end of the straight section, grooves were carved in the trunk above the tourniquet to the bottom of the basal flare, rooting hormone was applied. It was planted in a 3 gal container with my normal potting medium, whilst the top section to the basal flare was potted in straight turface (to mimick Japanese sand).

The second photo is the tree last fall. Low and behold one can find many tiny feeder roots just below the surface. A careful inspection will ensue this spring as to whether or not the parent rootball can be severed or not, I may wait until next spring to do so, allowing another complete growing season to maximize root development. Once severed the tree will be place in a shallow grow box to recuparate and continue to develop. During this time frame, time is not wasted. Selective pruning is still very much carried out in order to distribute the energy throughout the tree. The trees overall height requires reduction, but there is plenty of time to do that in the future. The more foliage available will assist in the development of a greater root system. The earliest this tree will see a bonsai pot is the spring of '08 or '09.

I am in no hurry, this tree has potential and this is what it may look like at the time of placing in a bonsai pot. Bonsai is about the journey and not the possession of "bonsai trees". These accomplishements could not have been carried out without the careful and unselfish nurturing I have personally received from the various forums. For those who have assisted me on my journey, I thank thee. For the folks that can't, are reluctant or just plainly refuse to see the light, may I wish you success in whatever endeavour you are participate in.
 

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Brilliant words.

I can only agree with you in that the tree has potential and it will need height reduction at some point. Nice start.


Will
 

Vance Wood

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I think things are starting to change and I thank Bnut for that. It's not important to cover old ground because it helps no one and is good for nothing, personally I don't have time to hold grudges or the desire to do so.

As to the Hinoki. You already know that they do not back bud well once the branch is out of the green and has started to bark up. So it is important that you continually pinch back the ends of the branches to keep is actively growing near the trunk.

I have a preference as to the way to treat the foliage masses. I like to lay them out in little horizontal fans. There is a tendency to attempt foliage masses that are mounds of growth like you might find on a Juniper. These seldom work and, in my opinion contrary to the elegant way Hinokis grow. If you look at a Blue Spruce you will notice that the growth at the ends of the branches tend to align themselves in fans and not mounds. You should look at these trees and study how they look and attempt to duplicate this format with your Hinoki. If you do this your tree will look a hundred times better than it does now, even though now it is not bad, it just looks young. You have foliage growing up, down, side ways and even back ward. I have found that Hinokies are an exercise in constant attention. Let one go for a year and you will have to redesign the darn thing. They also like a lot of water but they don't like being soggy.

One more little tid bit of information: I repot mine in July and they do fine. I have seen them die when done in the spring.
 
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Rick Moquin

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The gist of the post was not to discuss this Hinoki in particular but to demonstrate the value of distant learning, where, no other means are available, and the progress that can be achieved in minimal time from lessons learnt.

Hinokis are indeed a beautiful tree but present unique challenges to the enthusiast in that they do not back bud as we know, and the fan like foliage can be difficult to tame.

The tree as seen was photographed prior to thinning out, hence the messy foliage. The mass of foliage is futher exagerated by the absence of clear photography (something I am still struggling with) and the lack of depth perception provided. This lack of perception leads one to believe of bulbus masses of foliage where in reality the photo has bunched several layers together without showing the separation, evident in person.

This tree has 1 1/2, which should render an ideal tree of around 9 inches. The latter is not possible due to insufficient branches close to the trunk. This tree was acquired as nursery stock and the inner branching had died back due to lack of ventilation and sun. The branches have been shortened and positioned with serpentine movement, the foliage layered and positioned in such a way to maximise sunlight to all the foliage, preventing the casting of shadows on the lower branches. However, it is indeed possible to get a tree in the 12-13 inch range. The crown is very much immature at this point and further styling will be addressed in the future. The foliage is pretty much trimmed as you have suggested Vance, it is indeed a time consuming process carried out on each fan with (moustaches scissors) in Sept. The branchlets are thinned out alternatively, and each little branchlet does indeed look like a horizontal fan. The tree is then wired where needed, and foliage fans turned horizontal where required. I have come to find as you have mentioned that the foliage on Hinokis must be kept tidy and the layers (fan layers) need to be addressed iot reduce die back due to insufficient light.

Although Hinokis are difficult to work with in that they have unique requirements, I believe them to be an extremely educational tree in allowing it's owner to develop patience, something as we know is the backbone of this beautiful hobby of ours.

You have recommended to repot in July, an interesting tidbit of info. Where do you reside Vance, for climate comparison? I will have to seriously take the recommendation under advisement.

This tree will never become a great tree, it is however a great tree to enjoy, and as a learning tool second to none. They say patience is a virtue, with Hinokis it is true. Very few Hinokis have been developed as bonsais although they have beautiful foliage to do so. The reason for the latter, is that unless these trees are taken care of from the beginning (e.g branching, selective pruning, etc...) irreversable damage takes place (inner die back). It is extremely difficult to find good nursery grown stock, that have not been affected by die back. The purpose of nurseries as we know it is to sell masses of foliage to awe customers, as enthusiasts we know that proper nebari and branch position is more important than foliage, which in turn we grow out under bonsai culture.
 

Vance Wood

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I thought I had a picture of my Hinoki in my gallery, and I do not. I will have to post a picture latter. This particular tree was orignally styled and put into a bonsai pot on July fourth about 1995. The temperature at the time was in the high 80' low 90's. It has prospered since and has always been potted in the summer. I live in zone 5.
 

Rick Moquin

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Interesting Vance, please share a picture with us. Zone 5 how does that equate with mine? what factors are we looking for here? Temps don't reach that high here until the second week of Aug. Although zone 6a (recently been ammended (use to be 5a/b) our temperatures are low compared to yours.
 

Vance Wood

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Interesting Vance, please share a picture with us. Zone 5 how does that equate with mine? what factors are we looking for here? Temps don't reach that high here until the second week of Aug. Although zone 6a (recently been ammended (use to be 5a/b) our temperatures are low compared to yours.
I would have to guess. When I do my Hinokies they have finished their first flush of spring growth and are settling in for the summer. The point is, and I believe this wholeheartedly, the concept of repotting just as spring growth begins is not as magical a time as most of the books have led all of us to believe all of these years. Hinoki Cypress, Mugo Pine, Scotts Pine, Spruce and Juniper have fallen under the guns of my summer repotting sights. All have done well when done this way, and many from this list have in the past not done so well when done by the books, especially Mugo Pine and Scots Pine.
 

Rick Moquin

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Interesting observation Vance. Yes indeed many books have mis-guided us, or kind of lumped all trees in the same category along with deciduous trees. This is why these forums are important to exchange first hand lessons learnt.

Having said that, in your experience are you simply repotting or carrying out root work at the same time? The reason I ask is, would there be any ill effects when doing a slip pot perse vice doing a repot with root work? I would imagine the latter to be so, but what about the former?
 

Vance Wood

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Interesting observation Vance. Yes indeed many books have mis-guided us, or kind of lumped all trees in the same category along with deciduous trees. This is why these forums are important to exchange first hand lessons learnt.

Having said that, in your experience are you simply repotting or carrying out root work at the same time? The reason I ask is, would there be any ill effects when doing a slip pot perse vice doing a repot with root work? I would imagine the latter to be so, but what about the former?
With Hinokies, Mugo Pine, Scots Pine, and Shimpaku Junipers I have and do; Repot, cutting the roots often heavily, wire and prune at the same time, something the books tell you never to do. I have lost very few trees doing it this way. Do I recommend you do this, no, because I don't want someone coming back and saying they lost a tree because they did it my way. You have to decide. Try it on a tree you don't mind experimenting on. I find I can do the above all the way into September with no problems. This really opens up the season and takes the pressure off of you in having to do everything in the Spring. Oh and guess what? I also do Japanese Maples and Korean Hornbeams this way as well, ---almost forgot Cotoneasters.
 

Rick Moquin

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Wow!! This is definitely getting more interesting by the minute. What do you repot in spring?

I hear you about not willing to endorse recommendations in fear of one never really knows what transpires during such decisions. It goes by what works for one, similar to the debate on when to wire larches etc... I think the point to take away from all of this is to not f... with what works for you I guess. If it ain't broke don't fix it... :)
 

Vance Wood

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Wow!! This is definitely getting more interesting by the minute. What do you repot in spring?

I hear you about not willing to endorse recommendations in fear of one never really knows what transpires during such decisions. It goes by what works for one, similar to the debate on when to wire larches etc... I think the point to take away from all of this is to not f... with what works for you I guess. If it ain't broke don't fix it... :)
Almost nothing that I now have. This summer I plan on trying some Japanese White Pine. I have found when they are done in the spring they don't do well either.
 

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