I last showed you this bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, when I did the initial styling on it a couple of months ago. It grew very well in 2015, after being collected in February of that same year. I decided the tree was ready for its first bonsai pot this year. Now, you may wonder if I’m not rushing things, considering that the new leader is hardly thick enough to make a believable transition at the chop point. But I know just how powerfully top-dominant bald cypress is, so the new apex of this tree can be entirely grown after it’s placed in a bonsai pot.
I commissioned this Byron Myrick oval for the tree. All sorts of greens do very nicely with cypress, as they evoke not only the foliage of the species but also the swampy habitat. This one is no different. Also, the oval shape should complement the graceful curve of the tree.
My first chore is to work on the chop area. You can see that I chose a new leader below the chop and wired it up to continue the trunk line. Now I need to saw off the chop flush with the leader. That’s step number one in prepping this apex for what will ultimately be an uninterrupted trunk line that tapers smoothly from soil line to its tip.
The cut went quickly with my Japanese pruning saw. Cypress has light sapwood, so it’s very easy to work.
Next I used my trunk splitter to make this angled cut. Notice the “shelf” I left near the new leader. This is designed to keep the swelling callus from producing a reverse taper a couple of years down the road. By forcing the callus tissue to cover the shelf, it won’t grow nearly as quickly as the callus below it. Ultimately, it’ll be completely rolled over and will make a very smooth tapering transition.
Here’s a view from the back. Notice that I’ve carved down the rough cut. This will all be sealed when I’m through potting the tree. It’s freshly cut sapwood, and it’ll transpire moisture right out of the trunk and threaten the tree’s survival if I don’t protect it.
Next I unpotted the tree. Check out all the roots I got in a single year! You can also see the buttressing roots I buried right after I collected it. They stayed protected, meaning they stayed alive, and they sprouted new feeder roots as expected.
Finally, here’s the tree in its new home. The branches and the new leader are where I need them to be going into the 2016 growing season. My two chores are creating the tree’s apex and flushing out the branch structure. This is about a four to five year project.
If you’d like to take over the training of this tree, it’s available at our Bald Cypress Bonsai page. The trunk base is 4″ at the soil surface, and it’s 22″ to the chop point. I’m planning for a final height of 30-32″. This is going to be a very elegant bald cypress bonsai.