We started following the tale of this Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, in early 2015. This is a big cypress with the classic fluting, in this case fluting that runs high on the trunk. These trees really make a statement!
Here we are, just under 18 months later. Are BC strong trees or what? This growth is typical of newly collected cypresses, which are powerfully apically dominant. This tree wants to be 20 feet tall again, no matter what it takes.
For the purposes of bonsai, however, I can’t let that happen. So this is the perfect time to get into the tree’s structure and see what I’ve got, and see what I can make of it.
If your cypress is strong you can defoliate it in July (assuming you live in the South). This gives the tree plenty of time to put on a new, fresh set of foliage in time for fall. It also greatly facilitates wiring and shaping the tree. Here you can see some wire I had put on last year, when the tree was first coming out. Now I’ve got a lot more branches to work with – too many, in fact, so it’s time to edit, wire and shape.
Now I’ve got my basic branch set for this future bonsai. Because the tree was trying desperately to grow taller, the branches in the body of the tree are relatively thin. This is typical, and you as the bonsai artist must overcome it. This is done by balancing the growth of the tree. The apex is going to do fine without any coaxing; the trick is to not let new buds and shoots take hold in the crown and launch themselves skyward. The tree will keep on trying, so I’ll come in and remove buds as needed to keep the energy in the lower part of the tree.
This specimen has a trunk that’s about 6″ across 6″ above the soil surface. The root spread is in excess of 15″. The height to the chop is 28″, and I anticipate the finished height of the bonsai will be 38-40″.
What do you think of this tree? I’ve love to hear any comments.