Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

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Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  Mr Miyagi on Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:44 am

Hi again IBC,

Just wanted to show one of many Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow) I acquired earlier this year. As can be seen the pot is bursting with roots.

Will cut back hard in late winter.






As you can see it has nice shape, with beautiful natural jin.

Any advice on future design would be much appreciated.

Mr Miyagi
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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  Mr Miyagi on Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:45 am

Forgot to say it was a cutting. Embarassed

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  drgonzo on Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:04 am

I have some experience with willow, both as landscape trees and as Bonsai and my advice to you would be stick that thing in the ground and try to grow out ONE leader from near the top, let that whip grow out for a few years and then cut it back hard then grow another. You might even be able to get away with two leaders on that guy. for the "two level cheerleader pom pom effect".
You will eventually want to create an apex that looks a little like a claw foot facing upwards if that makes sense. You then wire down the long shoots to make them weep, they will not do it naturally.

Willows need to be on the tall side so that when you weep the branches it looks correct. Growth in the ground will also help you develop heavy surface roots which the willow will grow easily. Then lift the tree and start your container growing it should only need a couple years in the ground. If you try to keep it in a container while your trying to get strong growth as I described above you will never be able to keep up with the roots, and it will suffer and develop poorly.

That is an excellent starting trunk, I would only let your leaders grow and remove any side shoots as you don't really need them to thicken what is already a nice thick trunk, also if you allow thick side branches to grow out from that main trunk you will have heavy scarring when you eventually have to remove them.

Dowse the jins with wood hardener and pray they don't rot, but plan for it anyway.
Awesome piece and further proof that you can root just about any thickness willow cutting.
-Jay

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  drgonzo on Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:10 am

I would definitely grow out number 1
maybe number two as well if you want to do a double trunked look.
cut everything else off and keep it cut off.

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  Mr Miyagi on Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:28 am

Thank you for the good advice Jay. I am just organising a new plot for some material in spring so will pop it in the ground then.

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  jonathan e on Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:50 am

drgonzo wrote: I would only let your leaders grow and remove any side shoots as you don't really need them to thicken what is already a nice thick trunk, also if you allow thick side branches to grow out from that main trunk you will have heavy scarring when you eventually have to remove them.

-Jay

I would have to beg to differ with this. I think some 'heavy scarring' would be beneficial to add some interest to the somewhat cylindrical trunk, making it look more like a gnarly old forest monster than a stout pole. A few extra side branches just to lump things up a bit would help. The trunk's existing character does show some promise tho.

I'm also trying some cutting-grown willows lately, we'll see how it all works out, I keep hearing bad things about willow bonsai, but not sure if they really are unsuitable in the long run or if it's just people being unwilling to adapt their learned practices to something that needs very different cultural conditions than a pine or elm.

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  coh on Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:56 am

I'm curious about the size of this trunk...based on the hand holding the pot, I'd guess the trunk is about 3" in diameter (above the first jin)? Then the total height of the trunk would be about 9 or 10"? It looks to me like the growth is rather coarse with large leaves. Can that eventually be reduced significantly, or is this going to have to be a much larger tree when "done"?

Note, I have no experience growing willows but picked up a few very small cuttings (pencil size) this summer, so I will be playing with them...obviously a very long term project!

Chris

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

Post  drgonzo on Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:37 am

jonathan espalin wrote:
drgonzo wrote: I would only let your leaders grow and remove any side shoots as you don't really need them to thicken what is already a nice thick trunk, also if you allow thick side branches to grow out from that main trunk you will have heavy scarring when you eventually have to remove them.

-Jay

I would have to beg to differ with this. I think some 'heavy scarring' would be beneficial to add some interest to the somewhat cylindrical trunk, making it look more like a gnarly old forest monster than a stout pole. A few extra side branches just to lump things up a bit would help. The trunk's existing character does show some promise tho.

I'm also trying some cutting-grown willows lately, we'll see how it all works out, I keep hearing bad things about willow bonsai, but not sure if they really are unsuitable in the long run or if it's just people being unwilling to adapt their learned practices to something that needs very different cultural conditions than a pine or elm.

The scarring that willow produce, though very fast to heal over, looks significantly different than the mature bark, the scar tissue is black and somewhat smooth yet rippled its almost oily looking like black motor oil. It does add character yet I find the scars tend to look poor in contrast to the mature chalky grey bark. It looks very similar to the way Fagus Crenata heals over if you've ever seen that.

The great difficulty with growing out willow is trying to maintain some semblance of taper, by allowing side branches to grow out on a trunk that already has girth you risk creating bulges and they will destroy any taper you may have been able to create by growing a main leader. I keep all of my lower side branches on my field growing willows at no more than a foot long and I allow the main leader to grow freely in order to help maintain a smooth taper. Its like I'm trying to slow down the sideways thickening so I can have more even ground to apex thickening if that makes sense. However I am growing for girth as well as mature bark, this trunk already has nice bark so side branches would not only be unnecessary for the final design of a tree like this but would also risk taper loss as well as scars. BUT as you say that might look cool if thats the look you would want.

willow in the wild tend to be short lived (75-100yrs) and this is part of their bad 'rep for bonsai, they are also difficult to control, but as you say its just a matter of adapting bonsai techniques to work with the willows growth rate and still produce a believable bonsai. The "cultural" conditions are the same as any other water loving bonsai.

What we see here in this stump is say the bottom 1/3 of a finished tree, the top 2/3 has yet to be grown, and you grow that leader out until you start to get that nice mature bark, not the green smooth immature bark, (2 seasons maybe) then reduce the leader and grow again.
you can get a jim dandy tree in only a few years with willows.
-Jay


Last edited by drgonzo on Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:40 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : even I didn't understand what I had just written about the taper...jeez)

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Re: Salix Chrysocoma (Golden Weeping Willow)

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