I posted a progression on this tree at the end of last year. With spring now in full force, this specimen has exploded with growth. I repotted the tree last year, and was in hopes of big growth for 2019; but I had to wait. But that’s fine. To make a good design takes time, and this is never truer than when you’re working on a large specimen.

Let’s look at some details of the 2020 plan and how I expect to accomplish it.

First of all, notice how I’ve taken a piece of wire and lashed the lowest left-hand branch to the branch above it. Why did I do this? The reason is simple: this branch has grown only weakly since I first selected, wired and positioned it. Even though I had brought the branch down, this is usually not enough to keep strong growth from occurring. In this particular case, it did. So I’m going to overcome this problem by pointing the branch upward, and this was an easy way to do it.
I’m getting results already. If you look closely at the tip of the weak branch, I have the beginnings of an elongating shoot. This is something that has not happened on this branch since it first formed. Each year the branch would put on its fronds, and just stop growing for the season. Very frustrating. But now I’ve got something going that should thicken the branch up during this growing season. You can use this technique to good effect; I have, many times.
Now let’s look up into the crown of the tree. It takes a number of years to properly complete the tapering transition when you begin with a big trunk chop. It’s common to lose patience and build out the crown of your tree before the transition is done. I need to make sure this one gets done right. With the rampant growth I’m getting, I should be able to thicken the base of the transition point easily. I need it to be at about 50% thicker than what it is now.

By rampant growth I mean the number of elongating shoots that have appeared in the crown from bottom to top. These are the type of shoots that produce thickening of the branches they appear on. If you don’t get these shoots, you don’t get thickening – it’s just that simple.

Here’s a closer view of the transition point. I don’t have far to go at all in making it look smooth and realistic.
Here’s the view from the back side. Isn’t that wound healing nicely! I expect it to be completely closed in about two to three more seasons.
For the final shot this evening, I wanted to show you the branch that I did the corrective work on back in December. Remember that I needed to force the base of the branch down at a sharper angle than it originally had. So I notched the branch underneath, put some heavy wire on it, and made that happen (cracking the top of the branch in the process – but it was all good). I was confident the branch would come through the rough treatment just fine, and evidently it has. Look at all the growth on it! The two wounds will completely heal during this growing season.

I hope this series of photos will be helpful to those of you who are working with large Bald cypresses. There are some tried and true techniques for making impressive bonsai from these specimens. It does take time, but it’s well worth it.

Let me know what you think of the progress.