Bald cypress should be in every bonsai enthusiast’s collection. But even more, a collected Bald cypress bonsai should be in everyone’s collection. BC is one of our specialties at Bonsai South. Each year we do our best to find and lift really high quality raw material. Today Cathy and I made our first trip of the collecting season. Here are a few specimens we brought home.
I often like to show these trees after they’ve been cleaned up and made ready for pot or tub. Why? Because it helps to dispel one of the great myths about collecting deciduous trees, namely, that you have to get lots of roots and leave those radial roots really long in order for the tree to survive collecting. This is absolutely incorrect. I’ve been collecting trees for over 30 years now, and when I started out I went with the conventional wisdom and left lots of root. One big problem with this is, when it comes time for your tree to go into a bonsai container, you have to chop the roots again! Believe me, this is not something you want to do. So over time, I experimented with chopping roots to fit the eventual bonsai container, and guess what? They lived!
This specimen is a perfect example of how far to reduce that root zone when collecting. As I tell those who like to collect their own, don’t be afraid to chop!
It does take some time to remove the tangled grass roots and gumbo mud from these specimens, but in time they yield. For this size tree, a tub was the best container. The trunk base is 5.5″ across 5.5″ from the soil level, and it’s chopped at 28″. I’d estimate its age at 40-50 years. The buttressing/fluting is very impressive. I see a wonderful informal upright Bald cypress bonsai in four or five years.
I’m always excited to find specimens that naturally lend themselves to the flat-top style. If you study this style, you’ll find that the best looking specimens have tall, slender trunks. This one is chopped at the same height as the specimen above, 28″. But the trunk base is only 3.5″ about 4.5″ above what will be the soil level. It’s got a little trunk movement, which is good, and a really nice feature: a subtle twist to the trunk from the base up to about half the height. There’s also subtle fluting, which is nice to find in a specimen with this small a trunk.