A small Monterey Cypress

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 | No Comments
A small Monterey Cypress

From the batch of Monterey Cypress that I started in 2007 I have only 6 trees that I’ve kept up to the present day. I wired some of the trees to be small, and others to be large. For the small trees the movement in the trunk was much more dramatic than the movement put in the large trunks. This particular tree has a tight turn near the base. Two others were wired to be small trees but I’m currently ground growing them to be larger.

At some point while I was in Thousand Oaks and this tree was growing in my friend’s back yard in San Francisco, part of the trunk on died back naturally. The resulting shari and rollover is one of the most interesting features of the tree. In fact, it was the reason that I started to concentrate more effort onto making this tree ready for show.

The general growing practice is relatively simple, similar to any juniper or many other species. But the styling, to look like the mature trees, needs to have branches that are ascending rather than descending. This makes the ongoing maintenance slightly more challenging as the cutback points are less well-defined than on a branch that descends from the trunk.

Monterey Cypress grow very quickly here in San Francisco, and even in a half-filled pond basket this one obtained a 2″ trunk in only 7 years.

Here is a progression of images of work on the tree:

Repotting time from a basket into a bonsai pot

Winter 2013 – Repotting time from a basket into a bonsai pot

Bottom of the rootball grown in a pond basket

Bottom of the rootball grown in a pond basket. The trees grow more slowly in pond baskets than in other containers, but as with pines, the nebari and rootage that result are superior in quality.

Repotted into the show container, but needing a haircut and wiring.

Repotted into the show container, but needing a haircut and wiring. Leading up to this point, the tree had been wired a few times, but then I started pinching and trimming the tips to increase the density. After a while the canopy started to look like a clipped lawn. The lower branches grew slowly during the same period, with minimal pinching and trimming. Admittedly, this container is slightly too large, but I preferred the style to others I had and I was keen to not push it on the root work since these can be a bit touchy with the roots.

Wiring completed for the 2014 spring BSSF show.

Wiring completed for the 2014 spring BSSF show. The idea here was to create a good looking but broad canopy

Sitting on the show stand.   The stand is made of California Live Oak with a live-edge top.

Sitting on the show stand. The stand is made of California Live Oak with a live-edge top.

The results of the spring 2014 styling were satisfactory, but I think I knew at the time, and thought about since, that the front of the tree that I used then was not the best possible front. Using it was a decision based on root work, the character of the branching and the shape of the crown. With some time I imagined that the front would be more toward the left side of the tree.

The lower trunk from just left of the new front.

The lower trunk from just left of the new front.

The lower trunk from the new front

The lower trunk from the new front

Detail of the middle of the trunk looking upward

Detail of the middle of the trunk looking upward

I left the tree alone to grow for much of the year, but finally decided to trim and clean it up at the end of August.

August 2014, the planned new front before thinning and cutback.

August 2014, the planned new front before thinning and cutback.

August 2014, from the old front.

August 2014, from the old front.

August 2014 - the side before starting work.

August 2014 – the side before starting work.

After restyling the crown, this is one good angle for the front.

After restyling the crown, this is one good angle for the front.

After restyling, a second good angle.

After restyling, a second good angle. This is probably my choice for the new front. The tree currently stands at 11″ tall.

After restyling, a third good angle, but likely a bit too far left for my taste.

After restyling, a third good angle, but likely a bit too far left for my taste.