In part I of this Cedar’s story I started with a tree that had a good trunk and grafted on a few branches using approach grafts to form the basic structure. From there it was really all about forming the crown and branch pads efficiently.
What I found after moving back to San Francisco is that this species seems to be ideally suited to Bay Area weather. I’ve since heard from people in other parts of the country both north and south that they are not quite as good growers in those locations. Altas cedars are native to the Atlas Mountains of Morrocco, but I’m left to wonder how the climate might be similar to my own.
With the climate on my side and the tree growing well, this tree made a lot of useful growth in a short period. Between 2012 and 2015 I had three good opportunities to refine the tree, each time with a full canopy of shoots to select from. All that I had to do was choose the right ones and wire them into place. I find that wiring the branching without smashing needles is quite challenging, even more so than wiring Japanese Black pine branching.
As you can see in the after photo from May 2014, I had the notion that I was going to create another layer of foliage above the existing one. The idea in my head was that the tree needed to be slightly taller so that the taper in the trunk would match proportionally with the height of the foliage mass. I had planned to allow the top branch to grow out and then create just about another inch or so in height.
Ultimately, it seemed that the top didn’t need to be any taller than it already was and that filling out the sides was enough to create the silhouette that I needed. Boon and I had repotted the tree back in 2011 but left it in an over-size ceramic grow pot since at the time we had some health concerns. Now, with the branching looking good it’s time to get the tree into a show container.
I had selected an older Japanese pot for the tree, one with a wide rim and flared sides because I think it suits the large nebari and relatively compact form. Normally, I think the pot would be for a pine tree with a trunk slightly larger than this tree. While we were repotting we decided to try a couple other pots just in case they might work better.
Once we settled on the container the challenge was to make the tree fit. The nebari of this tree is considerably larger than the trunk and it is very deep front to back. The tree barely fit into the container.
With the tree potted up into the show container and the branching cleaned up it’s getting close to show time. This year the BIB show will feature trees under 18″ only. So this tree at about 16″ will stack up nicely. The next challenge will be the final show prep and the stand and companion pieces.