When I acquired the Cedar last year, I had big plans for it. Since the tree was neglected for some time, I had to slowly and patiently carry out the plan. Over the winter time, the leaves were looking brownish, I was afraid that I’ve lost the tree, but come spring time, the tree put on a healthy green, with new growths. This year, I’ll be working on reducing the foliage to extenuate the shari. I stripped bare the top of the tree, adding more drama to the diagonal spire that extends to the upper left. I also reduced the lowest branch, to bring the viewer’s eyes back into the trunk of the tree. In the future, I may further reduce the shari on the lower branch, because it’s somewhat distracting in my opinion, and steals some of the movement from the main spire. I left more green to the left branch to allow the branch to heal more readily, I’ll eventually be reducing this branch’s foliage more next year as the inner growths strengthens. I’ve also wired the shari to give it a more natural look. After the wood dries, I’ll be applying some lime sulfur to whiten the wood, which will add more contrast to the whole composition. This year, I won’t work on the roots. As seen last year, the roots are overrun and needs some major pruning, but inline with taking slow measured steps, I will work on half the roots next season, then gradually reduce the roots in a year or two out.
During this month’s TBS meeting, there was a silent auction for the trees owned by a member who wishes to get out of the hobby. All the other trees looked pretty wimpy to me, and I ended up bidding for a cedar. The cedar had some interesting shari, but the branch arrangements was very 2-dimensional. There were no front or back branches at all, all the branches were extending left and right. The tree’s starting bid was $45, and gradually got bid up to $75 by several new members… At the end, I got the tree, because I saw the bonsai in the tree.
I didn’t care much about a formal upright tree. I also didn’t like how the shari was covering the live vain. So, I decided to pick another side as the front.
This side showed more taper, and exposes the live vain for the eye to follow up the tree. I still wasn’t too interested in a trunk that goes straight up. I began digging around the base of the tree to look at the roots, and found that due to negligence, the base of the deadwood has rotted away.
Obviously I can’t have deadwood that just protrudes out of no where, so my only option was to hide the rotted base. I contemplated using a rock, but the evidence of human intervention would be too great. I ultimately decided to slant the tree to hide the rotting base. To do so, I had to take the tree out of the pot, and repot it into a colander.
I started with taking the tree out of the pot. I was surprised to find that the tree was very pot bound — another sign of negligence by the previous owner. After some persuading and prying, I finally got the tree out, and started to rake/comb out the roots. After working through the badly decomposed soil, I found myself with little to no roots at the base of the tree, but with long running roots all around the root ball. I never saw a tree with such long roots before, it’ll be quite a task trying to reduce the root ball back towards the base over the next few years. Since it’s already quite late in the season, I decided to not do anything more to the roots to reduce the amount of shock to the tree.
I simply curled up the roots, and planted the tree into the colander, properly securing with wire. I ensured I planted it in an angle such that it’ll hide the rotting deadwood at the base.
The movement already looks much more interesting with a spire that juts out to the left. I then proceeded to work with the branches I intend to keep. The branches were very straight, with no interesting movement, so I got my raffia ready, and started to do some extensive bending. The lower most branch was already very brittle, and any bending of it would result in a broken branch. Therefore, I decided to let it be for now, and then make it into a jin in a year or two.
The second branch can be persuading to come down along the trunk, and to counter-balance the movement to the left. The third branch can be reduced and provide some greenery to the left, but I got to ensure it doesn’t become too overpowering, because there is already substantial movement to the left. The forth branch will be my new leader, and I will be building an apex off the branches (eventually). Everything else above the forth branch will be turned into a jin once the tree is healthy enough.
In order to allow more light to reach the inner buds, and eventually promote inner growths, I proceeded to reduce the foliage by pinching/cutting. I also put on some lime sulfur to the deadwood to help with preserve the wood. I’ve done a lot to this tree, now it’s just to give it lots of light, and let it recover from the abuse. Hopefully all the branches will survive and I can start cutting back the unwanted growths next growing season. I’ve also read that it’s best to prune in August, so that the tree doesn’t lose the foliage you want to keep. I’ll observe the health of the tree before deciding whether I want to prune back this August, it might be a bit premature.