(The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

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(The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:55 am

...is that even more experimented bonsai amateurs here have trouble keeping them healthy where we live: we have spells of hot, dry weather in the summer, and they don't like that. The lower branches tend to become weak, and die.

Careful cultivation helps, but still, it's difficult to keep our picea in good shape. As I said in another thread, Harry Harrington's article helped me a lot to understand a few basic things, see here.

As an example, this spruce was grown from seed (it's between 12 to 15 yrs old). You can see in the picture that was taken in January 2008 that in spite of my efforts, the lower branches are a bit dry :



This is how it looks today. Many of the buds at the top have been removed, and I didn't touch the ones on the lower branches :



But still, the lower the branch, the weaker the buds. Even if there is a slight effect of perspective, you can see the difference on this picture :



I'm even thinking of selling, or giving it, to someone who lives in a more suitable area : it's a bit distressing making efforts for a tree that has a potential (and I think this one could make an interesting straight formal tree) but that you realize will never be at its best where you live...

(And it's the same kind of problem with mediterranean trees like olive, etc. when you don't have a cold glasshouse : you can keep them alive, but they do need the right climate to thrive)

AlainK
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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Tony on Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:03 pm

Alian, why bother this is truly dreadful material... and the styling... do you really want my honest opinion Evil or Very Mad , you have way better, give the tree to someone you do not like... and let them have the headache... you will be doing yourself a favour Wink

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:42 pm

Thanks for the tip.

I appreciate your help.

AlainK
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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  greerhw on Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:52 am

Alain, don't spend anymore time on this species, it just dosen't like your climate, too hot and humid. You've done all you can. Send this one north and find something more suited for you climate.

Harry

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:29 am

greerhw wrote:Alain, don't spend anymore time on this species, it just dosen't like your climate, too hot and humid. You've done all you can. Send this one north and find something more suited for you climate.

Harry

Actually, I will probably bring it down south, I have friends who live in mountains where spruce and fir-trees feel at home.

Thanks everyone for your input.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Alain Bertrand on Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:52 am

Tony wrote:Alian, why bother this is truly dreadful material... and the styling... do you really want my honest opinion Evil or Very Mad , you have way better, give the tree to someone you do not like... and let them have the headache... you will be doing yourself a favour Wink

Hi Tony, could you elaborate more on this ?
To me, this tree has a nice trunk and good nebari. It has also a lot of branchs to work with. I agree that their beginning is not really nice (first horizontal, and then going down). They are too straight and needles to far from the trunk too, but to me all these defects can be fixed with not so much work, so I find it is good material to start with.

For the moment, I l'll give Alain my address and almost offer to participate to the shipping costs.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Tony on Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:33 pm

Alain Bertrand wrote:
Tony wrote:Alian, why bother this is truly dreadful material... and the styling... do you really want my honest opinion Evil or Very Mad , you have way better, give the tree to someone you do not like... and let them have the headache... you will be doing yourself a favour Wink

Hi Tony, could you elaborate more on this ?

Life is short. This material is not suitable for bonsai, plus the example shown has NO endearing features, No taper, no maturity, no movement and no ramification…the list of why you should not bother with this tree is endless… the very best advise I can give any aspiring bonsai grower/artist/collector is concentrate on material that will give satisfactory results in the time you have left on this earth… This tree will NEVER make a bonsai that I would be happy to have in my garden in my lifetime… don’t waste your money on shipping can I make myself any clearer?

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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:01 am

I've seen quite a few beautiful spruce, including blue spruce, but none of them had the features of those I've seen in nature : straight tall trunks, with no taper, which is the natural features of these trees in the wild.

I just thought I might try to style one that really looked natural for once Wink

But maybe you're right Tony : perhaps this species doesn't fot a naturalistic styling, a bit like the many wonderful olive-trees that are now so popular around the Mediterranean area these days... and look like yew-trees or junipers when seen from the distance when you enter a showroom at a bonsai exhibition.

Still, I do think it's a question of finding the right method of cultivation. Already, after removing old needles last September, some backbudding has occured. I might try a little longer before I give up...

Anyway, there is some truth in your judgement. Just before posting here about this tree, I had left a comment on a French forum saying that I was a bit fed up with trying to cultivate trees that don't fit my climate : spruce (too hot in the summer), olive (too cold in the winter, and even if you protect them in a cold frame, their cycle is not the same), not to mention species that don't like hard water.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Tony on Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:49 pm

AlainK wrote:
Anyway, there is some truth in your judgment. Just before posting here about this tree, I had left a comment on a French forum saying that I was a bit fed up with trying to cultivate trees that don't fit my climate : spruce (too hot in the summer), olive (too cold in the winter, and even if you protect them in a cold frame, their cycle is not the same), not to mention species that don't like hard water.

Hi Alain, thanks for taking on board what I am saying, when I tell an audience in a demo that I prefer to ONLY work on Native trees its because I know that they will thrive, but even SOME native trees do not like my garden.... Junipers and Pines really do not do very well so they have a year in my garden and a year in Terry Fosters where it is a lot sunnier and less damp. Work on what grows well, style trees that will deliver a pleasing result without too much heartache, do not be in a rush to get 'results' Bonsai is a 'slow' process to arrive at maturity. here endeth the lesson study

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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:44 pm

Tony wrote:
Hi Alain, thanks for taking on board what I am saying, when I tell an audience in a demo that I prefer to ONLY work on Native trees its because I know that they will thrive, but even SOME native trees do not like my garden....

Being stubborn and bad-tempered doesn't mean that I can't take sound advice from someone who is obviouly more experience than I am study study study

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Roger Snipes on Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:40 am

Alain,

Tony's advice is sound. Blue spruce grow just fine around here in Eastern Washington, USA, but they make lousy bonsai. I have tried working with them, and they just aren't suitable material even if they like the climate. Take Tony's suggestion and give it to someone you don't like. Laughing

Roger

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:52 am

OK, I give up : if even someone from Spokane says it's no good, then I'd better get rid of it. Neutral

I'll try to sell it at a bonsai convention (8th May). I posted a message on a French forum warning the potential buyers that it needs the right climate.

If I can get half the price of the petrol to go down there, I'd be happy...

As it is today :



So long, Blue spruce, Sad

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Alan Walker on Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:13 pm

If you can get a dozen more, it will make a nice blue spruce forest. As a stand alone tree, it will never win any awards, but that's not important for some people. It is too narrow, has too many bar branches, etc. But in the forest setting, it would be welcome.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Wed May 13, 2009 9:20 pm

News from the gift to my best enemy:

It didn't sell at 75€, I've decided to hike up the price to 90€ Twisted Evil



... could make a nice literati if the lower 2/3 banches are cut off with one made as a jin.

Buy it now and save a lot of money!

Next year, it will be in a shallow pot and you won't have the 150 I'll ask for it Laughing

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Walter Pall on Thu May 14, 2009 5:23 am

This is my Picea pungens which was collected in Colorado. It is in Harrsiburg, PA, at Nature's Way Nursery now. This was just planted into this pot and will have to wait one year at lest for styling. In two years we will see whether Colorado blue spruce is good for bonsai or not. I assume that this tree is over 500 years old. To my experience it is world class material and I have never seen a spruce in person or on images with this kind of potential and character.

So are Colorado blue spruce good for bonsai? No, they are usually lousy material. It is hard to near impossible to find decent material. But once in a while they can be outstanding for bonsai in particlular. In general I suggest to avoid any spruce that comes from a nursery.




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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Thu May 14, 2009 9:26 am

We don't play in the same category, so if you say so, I'll take your word.

I saw a few nice ones though, and that made me think it could be possible, with proper care :

http://www.bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=197 (Vance Wood)

http://www.colinlewisbonsai.com/gallery-bluespruce1.html (Colin lewis)

If it leads nowhere, I'll give it to someone with a big garden : even where I live, they do well when planted as garden trees.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  peter keane on Sun May 17, 2009 5:17 pm

Oh, I dunno. I think finding world class material for bonsai is easier than thought about (although, admittedly, I just drive to my supplier at New England Bonsai Gardens, or check out some websites of collectors that sell them) But, I would avoid blue spruce sold in typical nurseries, as they are grown for landscapes.

This is a 5 trunk clump that I'm growing on before styling. It seems that the previous owner (unknown) had caused the foliage "pads" to look like knuckles on the end of a hand from improper pinching. Maybe he was styling it like cryptomeria? I've got to grow out the branches for a few years and see what I can do with them.




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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Joe Hatfield on Mon May 18, 2009 2:21 am

Alan Walker wrote:If you can get a dozen more, it will make a nice blue spruce forest. As a stand alone tree, it will never win any awards, but that's not important for some people. It is too narrow, has too many bar branches, etc. But in the forest setting, it would be welcome.



I agree. It can still make a nice group planting. The climate situation does sound to be a issue but, you can still have some fun with it. I don't think this it is as terrible as some are saying. I agree with you in regard to keeping it looking natural but it will take a few more of these in a group planting to really keep my interest.

I'll give you 24.50 USD Smile You gotta pick up shipping costs. Also you have to supply 12 other threes and the pot. Smile

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Mon May 18, 2009 8:47 am

Nice tree, Peter.
It's true that the foliage is not as good as it could, but the shaping, and the base are quite pleasant to look at.

Joe Hatfield wrote:...You gotta pick up shipping costs.

Er... I'll have to think it over Smile

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spruce

Post  guy ward on Mon May 18, 2009 10:31 am

why not dramatically shorten the bottom 7 or 8 branches and jin them could make the tree look much taller and would perhaps encourage upper growth

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  AlainK on Wed May 26, 2010 10:39 pm

A lot of us still wonder if blue spruce is a good candidate for bonsai. I've just come across this post that shows the evolution of a colorado blue spruce over 13 years (Picea pungens glauca), and it's a splendid tree :

http://feel-spirit-bonsai.blogspot.com/2008/11/evolution-dun-picea-pungens-sur-13-ans.html

It's a pity for those of you who don't read French, not only this chap has a beautiful collection, but his posts are so funny...

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  peter keane on Thu May 27, 2010 8:32 pm

I've been developing a wonderful colorado blue spruce here in MA (zone 6) for a few years now. I think it's wonderful material, if it's yamadori, and not nursery material. Nursery material is sometimes grafted and uninteresting with which to work.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  craigw on Thu May 27, 2010 10:44 pm

I can't comment on the climatic suitability of your tree but I can say this
Some trees should be slow grown with an eye to future generations, I have seen some of the old formal upright pines in Japan which have been slow grown in a pot for many decades. Whoever started these trees would have been well aware that they would never see them mature, but they started them anyway knowing that they would be splendid bonsai in the distant future. I realize that all of us want to see some results for our efforts but this does not have to extend to all our trees.
Craig

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Frankie C on Thu May 27, 2010 11:09 pm



This was my first Colorado blue spruce that I styled in a workshop last November.
I find the spruce to be very temperamental and I like to work slow on them.
This year I have all new growth on it and it seem to be doing well. Only time will tell.
I will be potting it this fall if it stays healthy.
Frankie C

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

Post  Alain Bertrand on Fri May 28, 2010 6:25 am

craigw wrote:I can't comment on the climatic suitability of your tree but I can say this
Some trees should be slow grown with an eye to future generations, I have seen some of the old formal upright pines in Japan which have been slow grown in a pot for many decades. Whoever started these trees would have been well aware that they would never see them mature, but they started them anyway knowing that they would be splendid bonsai in the distant future. I realize that all of us want to see some results for our efforts but this does not have to extend to all our trees.
Craig
Yes, I think that the following cryptomeria pic1 pic2 probably started like Alain's spruce.

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Re: (The problem with) Colorado blue spruce...

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