Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  Vitusus on Sat May 12, 2018 9:39 pm

M. Frary wrote:  So in Mirai world eastern cedar and hemlock are in the same made up "elongaring" category as larch.
Or yew.
And some people think he knows all about bonsai.
Who makes up a whole category for trees that aren't pines or junipers and lumps them all in together?
Someone who isn't familiar with trees that aren't pines or junipers,that's who.

Interesting point of view, I am by no means an expert but having some experience with larches and spruces, even I can see the similarities between the two and the behaviour of the trees on pictures above. And I can perfectly understand why he wants to categorize trees to deciduous, broadleaf evergreens and conifers that further subdivide to pines, junipers and elongating species, it seems very logical even though we all know that you don't treat all pines the same way, all elongating species the same way or all deciduous trees the same way. But we also know that these share some common features, so similar techniques can be applied to them.

"And some people think he knows all about bonsai."

Interesting, I would guess that even he does not think so Laughing

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Sun May 13, 2018 3:57 am

I wouldn’t dare knock Ryan Neil in general. I think he does a great job of teaching all sorts of core concepts,(and nuances for that matter) but my eastern hemlock seems so much more vigerous than even western hemlocks, or Douglas fir that I’m not sure the same implementations of strategies would be appropriate. Also i’m Just working off the free episodes, so no room to complain here as there could be more approt advice past the pay wall.  To further complicate things, i’m not sure where in the spectrum of development/refinement my case falls.


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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  Vitusus on Sun May 13, 2018 9:28 am

MrFancyPlants wrote:I wouldn’t dare knock Ryan Neil in general. I think he does a great job of teaching all sorts of care concepts, But my eastern hemlock seems so much more vigerous than even western hemlocks, or Douglas fir that I’m not sure the same implementations of strategies would be appropriate. Also i’m Just working off the free episodes, so no room to complain here as there could be more approt advice past the pay wall.  To further complicate things, i’m not sure where in the spectrum of development/refinement my case falls.

Thanks for the explanation, fair enough for me.

If I heard his free videos correctly, "the tree's response dictates everything" and "what are we trying to accomplish" are the two most obvious yet still understressed concepts I hear from Ryan, so I am glad he brings those forward and I also found a great deal of nice horticultural explanations of processes in his BSOP series, but then again, all my trees are in development, so until I get to the refinement phase there are not that many nuances to pay attention to and the process is quite straightforward.

Anyway, very nice discussion going on here, thanks for it guys. thumbs up

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  Thomas Urban on Mon May 14, 2018 8:04 am

I have been a tier 3 member at Mirai live for a couple months, and I feel that my bonsai knowledge and design level have increased in the past 2 months more than in the past two years. There is so much information there it's great and all of my trees seem to be doing much better this year just from some of the techniques and fundamentals I started applying right before bud push.

I understand and see where people come from when they feel that Ryan gives off this "I know everything about bonsai." He just loves bonsai and he's very passionate about bonsai so he is very serious and intense about it and that probably doesn't fit or sit the same with everyone. He has said himself many times that he doesn't have an answer for everything and when he doesn't know he says it and tries to re-direct you somewhere else. Same if he made a mistake in the past.

Regarding the lumping of everything into the same category. Nobody has really presented any good fundamental methods for working on some of the North American species and he's been catching on to many nuances of the individual species of elongating species. I am also a sceptic so I look at what his trees look like, from a few to 7 years back and to how they look now. The health of his trees and the visual impact they have is undeniable so I say, try out his methods and see for yourself how they work.
Further with the lumping, it's to place a general growing style/energy reaction to pruning or re-potting on a broad group of species. In no way does it mean they're all the same but it means that they store their energy in the same way and the way they grow in the same way. Some of them like more water, some need more sun, some will react to removing auxins to dormant buds in 2 years versus the next spring when made at a certain time, etc.
Like pines, we have multiflush and single flush, then we have singleflush long needle varieties and singleflush short needle varieties that have their nuances, etc.

I don't just have his methods/teachings in my head though and I still think it's good to observe others and their methods/teachings and create a larger overall picture. A professional I work with here locally ONLY re-pots his pines mid-summer once they have set & matured their next years bud. Because then they allocate all resources to fixing the roots. Ryan would never do this, when I asked him, but I did this last year with 3 pines and they have been growing great so far.
I also disagree with the "drainage or aeration layer" in the pot. No matter what you do, there will be a 1-2cm puddle at the bottom of your pots regardless of size due to capillary action and gravity.

In general, there is a lot of information out there and it's a good idea to check the person's garden and general approach to bonsai when deciding to accept their ideas. I think Mirai in general is a great source of info and you would not be sorry for taking most of their concepts to your trees.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon May 14, 2018 3:54 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. In many ways I wish I had the budget for a full Miria subscription, although I also be willing to bend my budget if I could get an “everything hemlock” sort of lesson. I know their advice is good, but it is hard to sus between the variety of species and the variety in level of development.

I was also trying to be scientific in my methods, when it is just not possible with a single specimen. I’ve already nicked my own plan and trimmed a single secondary branch second from the second from apex group as it was encroaching on a similar branch but with better movement and placement. I figure if it buds back, great, it might be usable, but let a little more light down to the interior. Worse, I tried pinching a free buds from the sacrificial apex, and it was way too satisfying, like popping a zit. I don’t know that i’ll Be able to lay off of some of the long extensions from branches that I have identified new interior buds for.
In better news, I noticed a few back buds this morning from the apex group. This was the single branch group that I “hedged” last fall, or cut along the preriphria(edit: oops, looking at the photo, this is the second from the apex also, and the branchlet heading off screen just to the right was the one I cut back. Teh apex has the wire anchored to the sacrifice also off up and to the right).




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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon May 14, 2018 4:35 pm

The point that I was taking from M. Frary is that I don't want to put too much weight into cross species advice that may or may not match my plant's level of development just because it is coming from the current super star in American bonsai. Not that it is bad advice, but maybe not matching applicability. Especially when, on this forum, I've been given credible advice, with photo documented backup from someone matching species and development phase; albeit from across the pond. Too bad I can't seem to stick to a program anyways and keep picking at the dern thing, so that I don't know what is working for me. But on the bright side I seem to have vigor that is filling in the gaps of my bad technique.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  coh on Mon May 14, 2018 6:12 pm

I've also been a mirai member for the past year or so, bouncing around between tiers 2 and 3. Here's my take on the elongating species "debate".

"Elongating Species" = all conifers that are NOT pine and juniper. This does not include deciduous trees (such as maple, elm, hornbeam, etc) which get their own category...appropriately called "Deciduous". There's also "broad-leaf evergreens" such as some oaks, camellia, elaeagnus, etc.

Now, obviously within the "elongating species" category there is a wide range of trees that behave differently when it comes to pruning. Larches pretty much grow all summer and set buds early, so you can prune back the extensions repeatedly and new growth will occur. Other species are trickier. Coastal redwoods seem to be very particular about timing and will often bud back to the trunk and drop a branch if you prune at the wrong time. Engelmann spruce, when you pinch the new emerging shoots, will not back bud on that new shoot but rather at the base of the shoot and also further back on the branch. I can't remember what happens with firs.

So, why lump all these species that behave so differently, into one category? My guess is that when Ryan came back from working mostly with conifers in Japan, and was setting up his classes, he intended to focus mostly on conifers. So it made some sense to have separate pine and juniper categories, since that is what people tend to focus on. I guess he decided to lump all other conifers together and came up with the poorly named "Elongating species" grouping. The name doesn't really make sense because, well, all trees grow by elongating. This has caused a lot of confusion even among the Mirai community, though I think people are starting to understand the distinctions. I suspect if he was starting over, he might name that class/grouping differently...maybe "Other conifers" would have been a good choice.

Anyway, when he teaches (and on the live streams) he makes the distinctions between the various non-pine/juniper conifers very apparent so it's not really an issue...except for those who like to make it an issue (M. Frary).
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Tue May 15, 2018 5:26 pm

So what do you think?


Pinch and pluck the extending growth?

Hands off until Fall and then do the bifurcation selection?

Wait until new growth hardens(late spring or summer) and then do bifurcation selection?



My goal is backbudding. The species is Tsuga canadensis and the level of development is as photographed. I believe I am approaching the refinement stage but still in development.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue May 15, 2018 6:04 pm

dang - I thought you already had a solid plan... Razz

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  coh on Tue May 15, 2018 7:29 pm

MrFancyPlants wrote:So what do you think?

Pinch and pluck the extending growth?

Hands off until Fall and then do the bifurcation selection?

Wait until new growth hardens(late spring or summer) and then do bifurcation selection?

My goal is backbudding.  The species is Tsuga canadensis and the level of development is as photographed.  I believe I am approaching the refinement stage but still in development.

I don't know if you are asking me or asking in general? I hesitate to offer opinions because I've never worked with the species. I browsed the mirai archives and there really hasn't been a lot of discussion about hemlock. Most of what is there seems to be about repotting. Nevertheless, the general recommendation that Ryan gives for backbudding on these conifers (including spruce) is to let the branch grow and be vigorous. He claims it is the "traffic" in the branch that triggers backbudding, along with sunlight...so you need to somehow allow as much light into that area as possible.

So there may be areas on the tree that are in more of a refinement stage (pinching, keeping new shoots/internodes short, taper, etc) while other branches are growing more wildly. In those refinement areas I'd probably go ahead and pinch/pluck the new shoots when they reach the desired length, like you'd do with a spruce. I won't go any further and will defer to those with more experience as I don't know if there are any "tricky" aspects to the way these respond to these actions - such as, do you get buds along that segment of new growth that was pinched, or only at the base/further back. This might just be something you have to figure out based on how the tree responds.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Tue May 15, 2018 7:58 pm

The problem is I have two (mutually exclusive) solid plans.. and that is only if I can keep the shears and pinchers on lock down.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Wed May 16, 2018 9:42 pm

coh wrote:
I don't know if you are asking me or asking in general? I hesitate to offer opinions because I've never worked with the species...

Good stuff, thanks Coh. That sounds like a sensible approach.
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu May 17, 2018 6:22 pm

MrFancyPlants wrote:The problem is I have two (mutually exclusive) solid plans.. and that is only if I can keep the shears and pinchers on lock down.

LOL - i can dig it...

mine are just growing for now (Bryan Neel says that just means "you dont wanna do the work" Razz )
Not the case for me... just afraid of doing the wrong work... Wink

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Thu May 17, 2018 8:17 pm

kevin stoeveken wrote:
LOL - i can dig it...

mine are just growing for now (Bryan Neel says that just means "you dont wanna do the work" Razz )
Not the case for me... just afraid of doing the wrong work... Wink

Pictures or it never happened. Let's see em. Basketball
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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  BrendanR on Wed May 23, 2018 10:27 pm

Update.  This is a year on from the last pic.  I cut back to the last bud/lateral bifurcation last year.  See how it has back budded?  Look especially at the branch above my index finger.



20180523_184412 by BrendanR2012, on Flickr

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:11 pm

So much for a plan.. Some of the mid level branches were getting too thick and all but one of the upper branches wasn't showing any back-budding.  I had a rare afternoon to myself (naptime for the kids), with a pair of scissors, and before I knew it I went all Edward Scissor-hands on it.  I'm hoping it isn't too late in the season for another flush to follow.  I'm not regretting any of the growth I removed, and am not worried about the health of the tree, but I am getting a little anxious for back-budding.  I suppose learning how to graft would open up a lot of options too.

before:


and after:

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:27 pm

mine are still showing new growth, so with you being in zone 7, I would think it will push again...
up the feed to help it !!! pig

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  BrendanR on Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:44 pm

Are you going to have an inverse taper problem here if you don't remove one of these branches?

2018-08-17_11-23-03 by BrendanR2012, on Flickr

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Re: Tsuga, hemlock or "extending growth," type, clip and grow strategies?

Post  MrFancyPlants on Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:45 pm

Yes, there is already inverse taper and it will likely increase if I let the bottom branches thicken further.  There is even a crossing branch that I have so far retained that is contributing.

My thoughts about the reverse taper are that, hopefully, during the next repotting, I will reveal a much stronger base to counter the reverse taper.  I wish there was more than hope involved but I didn't take pictures during collection.  I seem to remember a wagon wheel of roots down there that I sawed off at collection, leaving the duft and forest soil at the base and in the middle. We'll see next after repotting, which may effect the potted angle as well.  I can't imagine removing one of the two bottom branches, but I am not completely ruling it out. Also, I see the foliage and resultant ordered chaos being the primary interest of this tree. Eventually, I would think, it would be able to deemphasize the flaws if not completely obscure depending on the point in the growing season.

*I could potentially do some carving as well as this species does tend to heal over wounds readily, but as of yet, the reverse taper doesn't bother me enough to risk a long recovery.
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