Zach’s Personal Collection
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Updates are in date order beginning with the first date Zach began documenting the progression.
This Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) came home in 2015, and I knew from the start that I was keeping it for my personal collection. A BC of this size, 6″ trunk (6″ above the soil), will invariably take about 10 years to reach a “finished,” showable state. So as of the end of the 2019 growing season, I’m halfway there.
I got really good growth the first year the tree was on my bench. That encouraged me to defoliate in July of 2016. In this photo, you can see the progress in building a new leader. This must be done properly, or the tree will look unnatural during winter dormancy.
Here’s a closeup to show you the new apex building process, which includes growing a new leader and controlling the powerful rolling callus that BCs typically produce.
Here we are at the beginning of the 2017 growing season. I’ve got a good branch structure going, and my new apex is poised for further thickening. Again, this process is going to take a number of years and can’t be rushed.
I’ve also got the tree potted into a training pot. This will slow the growth, of course, but I’ll still be able to accomplish all of my plans for this tree.
Two months later, the tree is full of foliage and continuing strong development.
Another defoliation in early July. It’s easy to see how much the branches and leader have thickened since the beginning of the year (two photos above).
Here’s a head-on view of the tapering transition point, showing how well the callus is filling in. At the top you can see the “shelf” of wood I left when making the year two chop. This is to prevent the callus at the top of the wound from growing too rapidly and thereby producing a reverse taper at the transition point. The shelf will be carved down either at the end of this growing season, or the beginning of the next.
This closeup, from February of 2019, shows an adjustment I made to the transition point on the left side. The callus did its thing as it was meant to, but there was a bit of a bulge where I didn’t need it. The solution? Carve it down. That makes it look much more natural.
Time for a root-pruning, as the tree has been in this pot for a couple of years now. Many collected trees will re-root with great vigor once you’ve taken them from the wild. It’s a normal response. BC commonly do this.
Note: I don’t defoliate cypresses in the year they get root-pruned.
The tree is root-pruned and back in its home, ready for the 2019 growing season.
This shot was taken in June of 2019. The growth is not quite as vigorous as I’d like, though it isn’t bad. In situations like this, you make sure the tree gets enough fertilizer. I’ve also seen some occasions where BC will get chlorosis, and this specimen looked like it could use some iron. I’ve always found that works well, usually within a few weeks.
A few weeks later, and looking better.
This shot is from December 27th, 2019. I’ve removed the wire from earlier in the season and cleaned up the trunk. The state of development is very pleasing to me, though of course there are still some years ahead before this tree is showable.
With that said, there’s a significant flaw in the design of this tree that I need to address now, before it becomes too hard to do so. Can you spot it? I took the opportunity to write an article illustrating the advanced training technique I used to correct this flaw. If you’re interested in learning more, send me an email and I’ll be glad to forward it to you (it’s in pdf format).
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