Pygmy restyle

Posted by on Aug 9, 2015 | 4 Comments
Pygmy restyle

I posted about the history of this tree and some maintenance that I did on it last summer, see this post. The tree is collected, and thanks to Bob and Zack Shimon I was able to acquire it without much effort. After all, collecting can be a time-consuming, expensive and messy business.

Despite having put it in the show two years ago I feel like I’ve never been happy with it. Although I largely styled it by myself, I once had it in front of Boon and he said “looks like you have a lot more work to do.” I was dismissive of this at the time, but ultimately I think he was right. During the 2014 BSSF show, our “one man bonsai show” member, Jay McDonald walked past the tree and said “that tree doesn’t blow my skirt up.” The comment is somewhat odd, but I took it more simply to mean that the tree didn’t really capture his imagination. With two people who I respect greatly in terms of creativity on the side of additional styling and some more growth after the trim last summer I was once again looking at the tree and thinking that something new needed to happen to it.

The obvious problem with the previous styling is that the crown is simply too large for the size of the trunk. While I enjoy trees that have sinuous trunks this one seems to just be out of proportion. In addition to that, there’s an odd junction hidden up in the crown where two branches of equal size head in opposite directions, each forming about half the crown. I sometimes argue with myself about this sort of thing, contending that the structure can be “outside the box” but in the end I always lose the argument.

After trimming and thinning the crown.   Although I like the tree I can't help but feel that the present crown shape is not as good as it could be.   I plan to revisit the shape of the crown in the near future.

This is where we left the tree last August and I noted “I plan to revisit the shape of the crown in the near future.”

July 2015, almost a year later the crown is once again looking quite dense.  If left this dense the lower branches will start to get weak and the interior foliage will die.  Since cypress are not great in terms of back-budding it's important to not allow the crown to continue growing.

July 2015, almost a year later the crown is once again looking quite dense. If left this dense the lower branches will start to get weak and the interior foliage will die. Since cypress are not great in terms of back-budding it’s important to not allow the crown to continue growing.

With a bunch of branches eliminated we start to get a view through the crown a bit more.

With a bunch of branches eliminated we start to get a view through the crown a bit more.

I had to eliminate more than one large branch from the left side.   I left stubs which I'll reduce more later once they've dried out.   Since cypress commonly have deadwood it seems like a few jin'd branches are a plus.

To create more opens space and reduce the crown size I had to eliminate a few large branches from the left side. In each place where I did, I left stubs rather than flush-cutting the branch off. I’ll come back and reduce the size of the stubs once the wood has dried out. Since cypress commonly have deadwood it seems like a few jin’d branches are a plus.

The result for now.   I thinned the tree significantly and reduced the crown my more than half.

The result for now. I thinned the tree significantly and reduced the crown my more than half.

I’m pretty happy with the changes because the flow of the tree and the apparent movement in the trunk have both been improved. After an additional repotting this winter finally into an appropriate bonsai container I should have a tree that I can consider mature.

4 Comments

  1. Maros
    August 9, 2015

    Really nice tree Eric. I like it’s current styling. Very elegant and natural to me.

    • Eric Schrader
      August 10, 2015

      Thanks Maros, I’m quite happy with it myself. I hope it manages to evoke the feeling of a mature cypress.

  2. Dave Williams
    August 10, 2015

    Awesome results! This is a tree I could look at for hours. We’ll done!

  3. Thumblessprimate
    August 25, 2015

    Thank you for sharing about your tree, and great post!