Dogwood8-4-16-3I posted a blog on this Roughleaf dogwood, Cornus drummondii, this past Thursday. The tree was collected in January of this year, and after a slow start really took off. As I mentioned Thursday, the tree has a lot going for it in terms of character. Given that plus the fact that the tree has recovered so well and quickly, I decided that today I would go ahead and do the initial styling on it. One thing I wanted to avoid was allowing the new branches to get too stiff to bend in 2017.





This view is from the back of the tree. I wanted to illustrate the design principle of making your decisions beginning with things you are very sure of, then moving on through to the things you aren’t so sure of. In this case, there’s a long and straight branch emerging at a sharp angle from the main trunk that, for reasons I can’t explain, I left on the tree. Clearly this branch has to either be removed completely or reduced greatly in length. I was able to cut to a new shoot down the branch, so I did that to get started on the “editing” of the tree.


Here you can see that I’ve shortened the offending branch. It’s not likely to play a part in the final design, but I left part of it on for now (you can always cut more off of the material you’re working on; putting something back on that you just cut off doesn’t work at all).






You may recall from Thursday my impression that I would be cutting to the branch shown here moving off to the left at a good angle, as my primary trunk line. As I studied the tree this morning, I changed my mind. The reason for this has to do with how the tree emerges from the soil. While that particular trunk line could be made to work, I have in mind a round pot for this tree and based on this I felt the tree should terminate in a more upright position. Now, if down the road I change my mind (or the tree’s new owner does so) there won’t be any problem in restyling the tree. But for now, I decided to go with the upright trunk line.


In this photo I’ve cut back the old leader – which was going to happen regardless.








Here I’ve used a wooden block to move the tree into its ultimate potting angle. This will help me as I choose and position branches.










The main trunk gets chopped back to the where the new leader emerges from it.






After much editing of shoots that won’t be part of the final design. You can see the bonsai starting to really take shape. Isn’t the trunk character terrific?










Here I’ve wired all of the branches and the new leader, and positioned them.














I slip-potted the tree into this nice Byron Myrick round, to the greatest extent I could, in order to prevent damage to the roots. I did have to trim some to fit the tree in the right spot in the pot, but overall they got “bruised” to the minimum possible degree.

I really like the way this Dogwood bonsai turned out. By doing the initial styling and potting this year, the tree can get a head-start on next year’s development. All that’s left at this point is to thicken up and develop the crown of the tree, and pinch and prune the branching to create ramification. Roughleaf dogwood is much easier to develop into a well-ramified specimen than its cousin the Flowering dogwood. Don’t get me wrong, I love both species, but each has its own features.

If you’re interested in native species as bonsai, this tree is available at our Miscellaneous Bonsai page. It ships in September.