When I’m searching for trees to collect, I always look for certain characteristics of the trunks in order to determine if they’re worth lifting. While there’s definitely a bonsai in each one I collect, I generally don’t visualize the finished bonsai in making that initial judgment. On yesterday’s hunt, I found a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) specimen in which I immediately saw the completed bonsai.
These are two separate trees that decided to grow right up against one another. This isn’t all that uncommon, but in this case the trees had such a terrific interplay of movement for relatively small specimens that the image of companion flat-tops sprang into my mind. There was no way they weren’t coming home with me.
My biggest challenge in preparing this companion planting for a container was the fact that they were separate trees. To be sure, the roots were entertwined, but during the cleanup there was the distinct possibility that the two trees would come apart. My goal was to preserve their “companionship.”
I spent the time necessary to carefully clean up the root zone, which meant pulling out the incredible mass of weed roots that always gather around cypress trees in the swamp. And of course there’s the thick, gooey mud that goes along with them. But plenty of high pressure water and elbow grease did the trick.
There comes a point where it’s time to pot your bonsai. I frequently direct-pot trees, especially when I don’t need to do any trunk development. For this bonsai-in-the-making, all I’ve got to create is the branch structure (limited) and crowns. This is easily done in a restrictive container; bald cypress is powerfully apically dominant, so I’ll get robust growth right where I need it.
A few more comments on this specimen, which incidentally is potted in this very nice Byron Myrick oval. Notice that the depth of the pot, right at 3″, is just about equal to the thickness of the main trunk at soil level, which is 2.75″. It’s 13″ long. I anticipate the finished height for the main tree will be 28-30″. This makes the pot just under half the height of the bonsai in width, which helps give the impression of height in the specimen.
I planted some moss around the trees. In addition to looking good, it will help protect the surface roots that lie right under the soil surface. I need to be sure these remain moist, so they can sprout new feeders when spring gets here.
All in all, I think this is a very nice composition. What do you think?