This flat-top Bald cypress is coming along really well for a single year of training. With that said, the design can stand some tweaking and fall is a perfect time to do it. All of the foliage will be off this tree within the next few days, so knocking some off today won’t hurt a thing.

Now, there are a couple of things that bother me about the basic design of this tree: one, the two apical leaders are too symmetrical; and two, the top of the tree is insufficiently “flat.” You can easily see what I mean by the former; by the latter I mean the crown of this tree is too rounded, and this is something that will need to be controlled as this tree continues to develop.

So let’s tackle both problems, shall we?

The first step in making the two leaders asymmetrical is to wrap some thick-gauge wire around them.
The change I’ve made here is subtle but important. I’ve pulled down the left leader and pushed up the right leader, both just enough to introduce the asymmetry I need. That’s the first step. The next few are equally important.
A sub-branch of the left leader is wired and pulled down. Again, a subtle change but very important.
A closer view, and more in line with the typical viewing angle. Take a closer look at the change in the leaders I made above, from this view. It’s all about the apical asymmetry that’s typical of flat-top BC.
More wiring on the left leader, the sub-branch at the rear. It’s brought down flatter into the plane where it belongs, and moved toward the back of the tree.
Moving over to the right leader, notice I’ve pruned out the sub-branch that was sticking straight up. It was too heavy and its further growth would adversely affect the design of this leader.
A close up, after a little more trimming. I know it may seem like I’m removing needed ramification, but trust me when I say it’ll all grow back and more! What’s vital at this point in the life of this bonsai is to properly establish the finer branch structure. BC are so apically dominant that you can completely develop a flat-top crown in a couple of seasons. In fact, if you don’t manage the growth during this crucial time, the tree will literally outgrow itself and force you to start over.
Now I’ve wired and positioned two sub-branches on the right leader. These will provide me with a good base for ramification in 2020.

Notice how flat the profile of the crown is from this view. It’s just what I need.

And the final shot for today. It’s easy to see where I’m going with this tree. I expect that by summer of 2020 I’ll be almost completely through with the overall design. Obviously I have to develop the lower branches on the trunk, and this will take a couple more seasons as the tree will push most of its energy upward. But I’ve won that fight before!

Let me know what you think of this flat-top BC. And if you haven’t already done so, sign up for our BC wish list for 2020. Plus consider a workshop – buy a BC and do the initial styling in year one, the perfect way to kick-start a great BC bonsai.