Cypress8-29-15-1This bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, was one of the last two BC I collected this past February to bud out in spring. Unsurprisingly, the growth was sluggish throughout spring and into the first part of summer. It didn’t bud as prolifically as BC usually do, but it was alive from top to bottom and that was enough for starters. I’ve collected trees that didn’t start out strong, but which picked up tremendously in year two. I figured this would be one of them.

As summer progressed, I noticed that this tree was gaining strength. It’s now even got roots growing out of the drains holes. And while it didn’t have as many branches as you’d normally expect, I decided it was destined to be a flat-top anyway so it didn’t matter. Today it was time to start training this tree.






The first decision I had to make was regarding the appropriate leader for this tree. As you can see in this closeup, I have two good candidates. After studying the tree for a few minutes, I realized clearly that the best choice was the one emerging from the right-hand side of the trunk. Why? One of the key factors in bringing out the true art of your trees is drama. What this means is, the bonsai that has a static appearance does not inspire. For example, trees that completely lack trunk movement are very difficult to make into impressive bonsai. It can be done, but usually it’s by going with a broom style design (one of the most difficult to achieve). In the case of this BC, by avoiding the branch that shoots straight up from the front of the tree, I know I can make something dramatic out of this specimen.

Cypress8-29-15-3Here’s the tree after I selected my leader and removed most of the branches I have no use for. I’ve also wired the primary branches and the new leader. The bonsai is taking shape.









Now I’ve done the necessary bending to shape the branches and take the leader where I want it to go. Notice that my first bend in the new leader was back toward the trunk. This is exactly what needed to happen. The second bend was back in the original direction. I also twisted the leader slightly in order to allow me to wire and position the secondary leader of the flat-top.









Here’s the final result. I’ve trimmed back the low branch, left the high vestigual branch long to thicken, made an initial angle cut at the trunk chop, and done the shaping in the crown that will ultimately complete the design. I’ve deliberately allowed the leader to extend, for a taller and more graceful specimen.

I expect to add another vestigual branch or two next year, but I’ll have plenty of buds to choose from in spring.

What do you think? Do I have a nice flat-top bald cypress in the works?

The base of this tree is 2.5″, and the height to the tip of the crown is about 24″.