Some of you may recall this bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, last reported on in February of 2015. I had previously potted it in this awesome Chuck Iker round, and it was time to do some serious styling. This was the result.
Then I encountered a problem during the 2015 growing season. For reasons unknown, the tree was stricken with chlorosis. In order to bring this condition under control, I removed the tree from its bonsai pot and put it into a large growing tub. Then I treated it with Ironite® and left it alone to grow for the remainder of the season.
The tree began budding a couple of weeks ago, so I knew I was going to have to get to work on it soon. Today was the day. As you can see, it really grew wild last year – mostly in the crown, of course, as the apical dominance of bald cypress is tough to overcome. My job, of course, is to get it back in control during 2016 and force the growth lower in the tree.
Here’s a closeup of my challenge. Notice all the strong growth going straight up. Also notice that my new leader is thickening very well, but needs to be simplified. There are way too many shoots in the apex of this tree.
Where do you begin working in your tree? From bottom to top, top to bottom or all over the place? I usually work my way from bottom to top, but the best advice I can give is to work from known to unsure to unknown. What I mean by this is, when you look at a tree with the intent of styling it to your design, some things you’ll be absolutely sure of, some things you’ll be unsure of and some things can be categorized as unknown – or put another way, “What the heck am I going to do about that?”
In this photo, I’ve done almost all of the trimming and shaping needed in the parts of the tree below the crown. In this case, I didn’t face any real unknowns. The apex, however, was a different story. I had a couple of good choices for where to take the leader, and after some deliberation finally settled on what I felt was the right one.
I could have brought the apex back toward an upright configuration, but in the end I felt that wouldn’t produce enough drama in the trunk line. In this case, continuing the leader toward the right-hand side gives me that extra something. I’m in hopes that as the tree develops, it’ll take on the appearance of a maturing bald cypress in transition from the more rounded broom-form toward the ultimate flattened top we often see.
If the tree grows well this year, meaning no further issues with chlorosis, I plan to put it back in the nice round shown above. This may need to wait till next year, however. When growing bonsai, the first consideration must always be the health of the tree.
Let me know what you think of this specimen.