Since it’s January in Florida and January is the month to repot and collect bald cypress, I thought it was about time I started paying attention to these two trees I’ve been ignoring.
That’s how I’ve been looking at them for too many years.
Today’s the day.
This cypress is a tree I’ve had for probably ten years:
It was a nursery grown tree for landscape use. When I got it, the soil line was here:
The tree was in a 15 gallon nursery can when I got it and at the time I bought the I thought that it was a good size trunk.
Then I performed the initial root reduction and the base kept getting bigger and bigger.
It was amazing and daunting at the same time; I was pretty new in bonsai.
I trunk chopped it and put it into an oil drain pan with no holes. I did use bonsai soil though.
I’ve pruned it here and there over the years but I haven’t done any real work on it.
It’s been about 10 years since the initial root work and I think it’s time for the next step.
And it’ll stop Dave’s bitching at me.
Dave’s been after me to work on it for years.
So I’m putting him to work on the tree.
But…before we do any work on any tree, we must give it a big hug and whisper pretty things into its ear.
Especially if you’re going to do some heavy root work on it.
And I’ll be kinda rough, I think.
These tangled roots, which are indicative of a nursery grown tree, will be removed.
The real reason is that the line of the roots flowing into the soil is disrupted by the crossing and tangled roots.
Remember, this is an art that uses depth, color, form and line in the composition of a piece.
The root’s lines, flowing into the soil in this case, are disrupted with those crossing roots.
In most cases it is a better idea to remove crossing roots.
But not every case.
Concave cutters, scissors, and some pliers-
Everyone who’s seen the roots has commented that they’ve never seen anything like it.
It’s a very unique root spread.
You should be jealous.
The original chop is just about healed
Which tells you that if you are a patient man, and let a tree grow, said tree will benefit from it.
A quick tip on branch development on a bald cypress.
From a pruned branch tip you are very likely to get 3,4,5 shoots from that tip-
If you don’t prune those shoots to a maximum of two at one point you’ll end up with a knob there.
Which will either have to be pruned off completely or shaved down.
Not a good option either way.
Here’s the tree before wire:
And after wire and branch placement:
I know it sounds like a cop out when I say this, and I’ve said it before, but learning how to wire is not something you will learn from a blog, from a video or from a book.
You need to find an artist or teacher you like and take lessons.
Wiring is a tactile, physical exercise that requires repetition and conditioning.
Which means, wire, wire, wire, and wire.
And I highly suggest that you seek out someone to show you the correct application for the effective use of wire and the most aesthetic technique you can achieve.
Let’s look at the roots.
Remember, it’s been in a pot with no drainage for many years.
Pretty good roots actually.
It was in bonsai soil so that’s a plus.
The roots are very healthy and abundant. I’m very pleased with them.
Wait until you see the second trees roots.
The way I rake the roots out on a cypress is with water and a hook.
Or I should say, the way I’m making Dave do it.
Oh no! Dave!
Look out for that gator!
Close call….you gotta watch out for alligators when working on cypress trees in Florida.
Moving forward then…
Rake rake rake.
Into the new pot, plunk, and…..chopstick!
There we go…
I agree Guaracha, lunch time!
I made an amazing discovery when working on these two trees that I shall share with you-
Domino’s Buffalo Chicken pizza!
Hell, let’s bring out the whole party.
Ok, back to work.
Needs a little carving on top.
This was collected 3 or 4 years ago and the trunk was chopped pretty high up.
There are two choices with this tree.
A Christmas tree shape or a flattop.
I think I’ll go with the latter since it’s January and past the holiday season.
How about a little carving?
Classic artist thumbs-up pose:
And boom! Like lightning!
I love the look of sawdust on my shoulders.
Makes me look so manly.
The girls swoon…
It drives my wife crazy…..
Because she has to wash my clothes.
And I can’t walk into the house until I brush off.
My son, chip off the old block, eh?
Before repotting (and James wondering why he’s holding a black board behind a tree. Because I fed you lunch, that’s why):
I have a nice ceramic pot picked out for it. The biggest pot I have.
It’ll look great in it.
Let’s have a look at the roots:
A lot of big roots but very few fine feeder roots.
The lesson (and backstory):
This tree was collected and put into a very dense, all organic mix with very little aggregate particles.
Not very conducive to root growth, it seems, in this case.
Add some bonsai soil to the potting soil at the initial potting after collection and you’ll be happier with the result.
It should be ok I think. I’ll add a layer of sphagnum moss on top to help keep it moist.
Let’s put it into the pot then…
Ah, hmm, well now, I think we have a problem.
Back into the cement mixing tub I guess.
Ten gallons of soil, give or take.
A little (a lot) of wire
The first tree again.
A good start for both trees, I think.
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