new flat-top bald cypress

Sneak Peek

Each year we bring home a few BC’s that catch my eye to the point that I want to train them. This one shouted “flat-top.” So let’s see if we can get that going.

New Flat-Top Bald Cypress

When we brought home this year’s Bald cypress specimens, a few said “train me.” This is one of them. The trunk character, taper and movement are really outstanding, and I knew from the start that this would make a fine flat-top bonsai.

The photo above is from January 30th, while this one was taken today. It shows pretty typical recovery strength for Bald cypress specimens, with the standard apical dominance showing prominently. One thing to keep in mind with BC is that this apical dominance is not necessarily a bad thing. Remember, the tree when lifted has no feeder roots or much left above ground, and “wants” to regrow itself as quickly and efficiently as possible. Part of that process is pushing multiple leaders that grow up toward the sun, and that allows the tree to collect as much light as possible. This in turn feeds those new roots, and the cycle of foliar and root growth reestablishes itself. My point in saying this is, don’t be tempted in the beginning to control the apical dominance; there’s time for that when the training begins. The first priority for a newly collected tree is to get strong, and its natural growth habit is designed just for this purpose.

The first step is always to remove superfluous growth. Here I only have left what I’m going to use for my design.


Now I’ve done almost all the wiring that needs doing today. There are exactly five branches in the whole starting design scheme, one of which is a secondary branch. I also carved down the trunk chop area to start the process of blending it into the trunk line.


And now we have the whole start for this specimen. Two vestigial branches, and a beginning for the crown. Notice that I’ve taken it in quite a bit. The tree will regrow everything I took off today, and my job will be to control that growth into the design. Those leaders, incidentally, will thicken a lot faster than you think.

I did not trim the vestigial branches. They need a lot of thickening, and that will only come if I leave them alone to grow.

I’d love to hear what all you flat-top BC fans out there think.