Trunk chopping

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Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:21 pm

I've been reading a lot about trunk chopping, but I can't seem to find a lot about chopping conifers. Is there a way to do this?

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:32 pm

My dad bought us a dwarf Alberta spruce to work on. Its about three foot tall from the soil, and pretty much looks like a little Christmas tree. I understand it's not the best material, but my dad already bought it.

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  BonsaiJim on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:42 pm

Winter/early spring is best time, you have to leave foliage below the chop (conifers don't back-bud)... theories differ regarding leave a stump and trim back later versus single cut... anything beyond that?

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:46 pm

Ok so, by leaving foliage below the chop, would that be like cutting right above the first two branches, using one for my first branch and one for my new leader? Or maybe chop above my first three branches? I wish I could load a picture, but I'm not sure you can do it with an iPhone.

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  BonsaiJim on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:56 pm

Its kind of hard to blindly "design" the tree for you...

My most significant teacher Colin Lewis says conifers/evergreens are grown out then reduced to their final image, deciduous trees are grown to their final imagery...

I can't grow spruce down here so you question is "Will spruce backbud between needles"

If so, consider your first branch that you leave the heaviest then all others will come from buds that will hopefully sprout in usable positions- you'd at least have tapering branches. Will the internode between first branch and the next hopeful sprout (at best its where the foliage starts) thus created suit your design?

If not, I would select your major branches based on your envisioned tree height, keeping in mind you don't want a cluster of branches then the next set starts with a 4" gap... unless it suits your design... Very Happy


Hope this made sense.




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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:18 pm

Yeah it makes sense. And I understand it's hard to to give any advice on an invisible tree. I was just wondering about options. It's trunk is very straight with hardly any taper and in some spots there are ugly clumps of coming out of the same spot. I wouldn't mind using the straight trunk to try a formal upright, but then I'd be left with a nice straight trunk an abrupt chop. If I were to go that route I guess I could maybe hide the chop with the apex? But I was more hoping that I could just cut it down to a few branches and start growing it what ever way I want. I really do appreciate all the advice, Jim, but since you can't grow spruce where you are, I'll wait for a few more people to chime in before I go hacking on this tree. Also, if I can chop it back hard like I was hoping, how should I go about repotting this thing? If I'm wanting to regrow, then I'd want to put it in the ground or a bigger pot I'd assume, right? And also, I've read that you shouldn't bare root some trees,(junipers I think) so I was wondering if this was another tree that I shouldn't bare root.

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  BonsaiJim on Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:18 pm

Mr. Carter wrote:...It's trunk is very straight with hardly any taper and in some spots there are ugly clumps of coming out of the same spot.

These are always troublesome... I think they will correct themselves over time- good place to leave jin-stubs.

Mr. Carter wrote: I wouldn't mind using the straight trunk to try a formal upright, but then I'd be left with a nice straight trunk an abrupt chop. If I were to go that route I guess I could maybe hide the chop with the apex? But I was more hoping that I could just cut it down to a few branches and start growing it what ever way I want.

Yes, you could do the chop... somewhat long process. That is part of the essence of Colin's advice- start out with the base trunk and character you want and make the bonsai.... and yes you could/would hide the chop with a new apex unless you found some way to feature it- i.e. a top-jin or part of a full trunk shari.

Or... you leave it a tall spindly tree with mostly top branches remaining - the lonely pine imagery- or- and I'm not sure of pines grow this way in GA - the inverted champagne shape that pines and bald cypress take on down here in the gulf.

Mr. Carter wrote: I really do appreciate all the advice, Jim, but since you can't grow spruce where you are, I'll wait for a few more people to chime in before I go hacking on this tree. Also, if I can chop it back hard like I was hoping, how should I go about repotting this thing? If I'm wanting to regrow, then I'd want to put it in the ground or a bigger pot I'd assume, right? And also, I've read that you shouldn't bare root some trees,(junipers I think) so I was wondering if this was another tree that I shouldn't bare root.

Evergreens are generally touchy and you want to proceed slowly. Its not universally true that you can't bare root them, or specifically junipers. You can and I have. There is general advice that I think I heard from Alan Walker first- never trim foliage and do root pruning on a juniper at the same time... same thing I would think apply to any evergreen. If you do, the tree should be healthy and if not, then expendable.

There are two schools of thought.

1. The tree either wants to be a bonsai and is tough enough to handle everything I want to throw at it... At least you don't throw years of effort training the top and then have it die fixing roots! Or...

2. Bonsai is gradual evolution to perfection.

I am more #2 than #1.... Barerooting/drastic root work will generally slow the short term progress down but can be good for the long term health of a tree. Great for potensai/cheap nursery stock... that really tasty piece of material might get 20-30% per year invasive technique till the whole job is done. The problem is that until you get rid of the nasty soil and dead roots you fight that soil-type interface and battle all kinds of problems. It is very hard to get a decent root system unless you do. So how do you like your band-aid removed?

Its probably late in the year to do serious root work? I've seen some lucky B@$t!# whack a tree up, bare root it, slam it into a too-small pot and bring it around a year later looking gorgeous. If I try it, I end up with another body to hide... Very Happy

Here, barring a really bad root-bound unhealthy situation, I think I'd do the chop, repot/plant next winter, use this season's growth to fuel the scar healing, develop my back budding and developing my basic structure. MAYBE I would do a basic light root ball loosening and pot-up, especially if I think there's going to be issues getting it through the summer.

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:05 pm

Thanks a lot Jim. Your advice is exactly what I had planned for this tree.

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Poink88 on Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:03 pm

Check this.

http://bonsaitonight.com/2012/04/20/from-landscape-tree-to-bonsai-part-2/

Your question is somewhat the same as mine here... http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t10399-jbp-bonsai-from-landscape-nursery-piece

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Re: Trunk chopping

Post  Mr. Carter on Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:47 pm

Well I chopped the top off of the tree. I imagined the tree being around 20 inches, so I chopped a little higher than twenty inches. Looking at it now, I'm not sure this is what I want to do with it, but I'll let it grow and recover, then reevaluate.

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Re: Trunk chopping

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