It’s the time of year to do initial styling on bald cypresses collected this past winter. I had posted this specimen earlier in the season, and mentioned my idea of a style for it that represented something I’ve never done before. There’s nothing like a rainy Sunday afternoon to dive into some styling work.
Photo number one at left shows the strong growth of this tree since I collected it. Even going straight into a bonsai pot – in this case, a nice Chuck Iker round – doesn’t hinder regrowth all that much. With bald cypress, unlike many other deciduous species, you tend to have more than enough to work with in terms of new shoots!
Dealing with the lower parts of this tree was not particularly challenging. You can never go wrong with the classic rules for styling your tree. First branch, second branch, back branch, on and on until you get to the apex. But what you can see from this photo, perhaps a little more clearly than in the first, is that huge mass of new apical shoots has got to be dealt with! Bald cypress does this every time. It’s just how the species wants to grow. So it’s imperative that you rebalance growth before things get out of hand, or the lower branches will weaken and die.
In choosing the new leader for this tree, I needed to avoid the tendency to “over-style” the tree. It’s more than clear, even in the first photo above, that there’s a certain graceful movement to this trunk that has no need of being interrupted. So rather than try to get all “artistic” with it, the obvious answer was to simply go with the flow. That made choosing very easy.
And here’s how it all turned out. This tree has a very simple shape, and it’s saying all it needs to say in a pretty strong way. Remember the key time-tested rule of bonsai:
Less is more.