We’re getting close to Bald cypress collecting season for 2019, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a tree I’ve had on the bench for a couple of years.

This is a big boy. The trunk is 6″ across 6″ above the soil, and it’s 26″ to the chop. As you can see, the taper is just awesome and the basal flare and fluting are classic BC. This specimen will make a fine formal upright bonsai.

Never let anybody tell you there’s no work to be done on your bonsai in winter. There’s always stuff to be done, weather permitting of course. All I had going against me today was a cold morning.

The first order of business here was to clean the trunk with a stiff wire brush and trim off low shoots that won’t play any part in the design of the bonsai. BC do well with a good stiff brush cleaning, by the way. Don’t be afraid to go after them hard. You just have to be a bit careful working around the dormant shoots.

You may have already noticed the number one issue with this tree. It’s all of those thick upright shoots near the chop. I can’t use any of them but the one right in front. All those others have to go. I left them alone after collection just to get the tree’s root system established. But besides that, they just sap growth lower down in the tree. I need a branch structure. These shoots will suppress that effort, as the tree is trying to regain its height. Sorry, tree, can’t let that happen.

That’s better. Now I’m left with what is going to be my new leader, once I make the year two chop this coming spring (it’ll actually be a year three chop. but that’s okay).

Now, the tree will attempt to produce new buds and shoots high up, as it won’t like what I’ve done as that is not what it had in mind. I’ll rub those off as they appear. Low shoots will be allowed to run, as will the single leader I’ve chosen. And that’s how you do this part of the development work.

Here’s a right-side shot. The trunk will be chopped again this spring, down where the new leader emerges, and I’ll also make the angled cut down the trunk at the same time. That will enhance the taper in the new apex, and ultimately produce a nice tapering transition point.

A shot from the back. This is a really nice BC specimen. I love the base of this tree (there’s more spread below the soil surface; remember that I bury surface roots to protect them at the time of collection).

The left-side view.

One final shot from the front. I don’t do anything more to this tree until I start to see buds in (maybe) March.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.