help with privet

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help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:33 pm

Hello,
This is my first post. I am a beginner in bonsai and have experimented making bonsai for two years now. I have made alot of mistakes and probably the one I am asking for help with. Two years ago when I read about bonsai on the internet I started the hobby with a number of privet trees. I dug up a number of privet trees that were part of a hedge and were going to be replaced by some other trees in a school. Had I not dug them up they were going to be uprooted and put in a skip. One of the trees had one long tap roots and very few small roots but had an extremely large trunk (about 17cm in diameter). I put the stump in cat litter (This was when I read the bonsai4me website), watered, and fed it for a year. In spring I examined the roots and there were lots and lots of new feeder roots. I was delighted but I saw alot of rot in the centre of the tree. I then removed the soft decaying part and was left with a hollow trunk. I had to cut the trunk during collecting because the top part of the tree had been cemented to the wall and I could not get that part out so I cut slanted angle with a saw. Anyway, this year lots of buds formed and new branches have started to form.
I am seeking advice from anyone who can help me with where to go next. I will take any help with how to style. My problem is that I cannot see how this tree will be in the future and would appreciate any directions. I have put some pictures of it.
Thank you.






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Re: help with privet

Post  fiona on Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:21 pm

Hello Attwass and welcome to the forum. I hope you receive many answers to your questions.

You have a nice bit of material there and you seem to have made a decent attempt at it already for a self-confessed beginner.

It would be very helpful if you could be a bit more specific on your location as Europe is a big place with many different climate zones and therefore many different ways of dealing with plant material. Knowing where exactly you are based will also help us to direct you to the nearest clubs or bonsai artists who will be able to help you more directly.

Many thanks and once again, welcome.


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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:33 pm

fiona,
I am in Ireland. We have the four seasons. Our summers are quite short and not very hot. Autumn and Spring are very very wet and dark. Winters are not extreme maybe the lowest temperatures would be around -5 degrees celcius. The tree has stayed outside for the last two years and never protected except when there is temperatures below -3 degrees celcius is when I cover the pot with fleece. I am puzzled as to how the tree will be in the future. I keep thinking maybe the trunk is way too large because upto the top would be 35cm. The proportions are what puzzle me. I have seen what people term as sumo trees but this tree has a massive cut and it shows with a hollow big enough to fit part of my fist in. The new branches that appear are very rigid and I tried to slightly bend one and it came off from the trunk so wiring might be difficult. I have no visual as to how the tree will be and am puzzled. There are also many many buds that are due to appear in spring, and, do I rub them off? Please help.

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Re: help with privet

Post  JimLewis on Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:41 pm

Privet (this one seems to be Ligustrum sinensis, or Chinese privet) make good bonsai, with a couple of caveats for this species. As you already have discovered, the wood rots very easily. You should clean up as much of the soft punky wood as possible, then treat it with a wood hardener or marine epoxy. You could apply lime sulfur or stain it before applying that treatment, if you like.

You probably will want to clear away all the little branches in the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree, then take another picture to see what's left. You will want to wire these small branches as soon as they can. They sprout arrow straight, and need to get some movement close to the trunk. Privet branches have an amazing memory and will spring back into shape even after having wire on them for several months. If that happens, re-wire immediately, doing your best to ensure the wire does not follow the exact same path as the wire you have removed. After you have some movement near the trunk, you probably can finish it off with clip-and-grow carefully choosing buds that go off in alternate directions (the privet's branches and leaves grow opposite one another, so rub off the bud you don't want).

This one looks like fun.

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Re: help with privet

Post  fiona on Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:13 pm

attwass wrote: I am in Ireland.
Excellent. can you update your profile that shows on every post so people will know for any future questions you ask.

I'm sure Will B and others will chip in some suggestions as they are your best bets for Ligustrum. I also like to study oter examples to get ideas, so FWIW here's a pic I took of a Ligustrum at Joy of Bonsai which might help. This one was probably about 30" height though.



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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:52 pm

I have updated my profile now fiona. The image you have posted is beautiful. I see how the comments of Jim lewis (and thank you for your comments Jim) of removing the branches 1/3 to 1/2 would start to produce the lower portions similar to the image you posted fiona. The top of the tree which you posted has a large branch which might have been left to thicken for maybe 3-4 years, if I am wrong please correct me. All the other branches have small thickness which means they might be achievable in 2-3 years and then to ramify another 2-3 years. In total around 6-8 years I might be close to the tree posted maybe. I had tried my best to remove the decay but I had not treated the cleaned wood. Jim would it be ok to put the wood hardener now in autumn/winter? Thank you very much for all your input. I am going to keep the image fiona has posted always as reference. I am grateful for all the advice.

I had done research about this tree when I first collected and came to a conclusion that it could be more Ligustrum ovalifolium than Ligustrum sinense. Maybe I am wrong or the difference is small, but it is still Ligustrum. Thank you.

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Re: help with privet

Post  JimLewis on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:18 pm

Jim would it be ok to put the wood hardener now in autumn/winter?

Sure. Be careful that it doesn't slop over onto live wood. IT won't damage the wood (probably) but removing it probably would.

I don't know Ligustrum ovalifolium, so I'll bow to someone who does. I hear that it doesn't rot that easily, but yours did?

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Re: help with privet

Post  coh on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:27 pm

Comment/question to Fiona: That is an amazing tree you posted. Do you know if the entire mass of lower "trunk" is in fact trunk, or is it growing on a rock? Can't really tell for certain from the photo.

Chris

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Re: help with privet

Post  fiona on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:31 pm

All tree as far as I remember. I believe its owner is a forum member so hopefully he will contribute to this thread.

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Re: help with privet

Post  fiona on Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:40 pm

This pic may help.


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Re: help with privet

Post  P.Spellman on Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:08 pm

fiona wrote:All tree as far as I remember. I believe its owner is a forum member so hopefully he will contribute to this thread.

This tree looks familiar. It looks very similar to the one Harry demonstrated a repot at http://bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATbarerootingacollectedprivet1.html
but a long way forward. Anyhow, excellent tree and gives the impression of a fantasy world, sort of a "lord of the rings" feel.

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Re: help with privet

Post  fiona on Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:02 pm

That would be very possible.

I have asked the tree's owner if he'd care to comment.

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Re: help with privet

Post  F. Waheedy on Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:51 pm

fiona wrote:That would be very possible.

I have asked the tree's owner if he'd care to comment.


Hello Attwass and welcome to IBC.

I can see you have a great material there. I have been working on a big privet since last 3 years, which I collected from my back garden.
Below is the link where you can find the progression series. I will post some latest pictures very soon.

http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t1376-monster-privet?highlight=moster+privet

Another progression series from Graham Potter which might be of some help.

http://www.kaizenbonsai.com/twin_trunk_privet.htm

The picture Fiona has posted is what I'm trying to achieve as it looks similar to the one I have.

I know it's difficult to wire the branches as they tend to come off from the trunk very easily but if you wire them at a very early stage and give them some shape, they should be OK. just remember that you shouldn't leave the wire for too long specially during the growing season as they grow very fast.

I never had any problem with the rot so I wouldn't know much about it. Will Baddeley is the best person to contact regarding the rot and how to stop it.

I'm sure more experienced members would give you some valuable tips regarding the styling.

DO let us know how you get on with it.

Good luck,

Faisal


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Re: help with privet

Post  landerloos on Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:39 pm

JimLewis wrote:
Jim would it be ok to put the wood hardener now in autumn/winter?

Sure. Be careful that it doesn't slop over onto live wood. IT won't damage the wood (probably) but removing it probably would.

I don't know Ligustrum ovalifolium, so I'll bow to someone who does. I hear that it doesn't rot that easily, but yours did?

They dont rot easely, if kept dry, I assume that the rotting piece was original below soil surface.
Mine is now been carved for about 6 years, never aplied jinseal or other products, still not rotting, however next spring it wil get some woodhardener.

Peter

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help with privet

Post  moyogijohn on Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:17 pm

I would be afraid to offer styleing...i do know you have a good trunk to start with...maybe you could remove the small branches from the bottom of the trunk to expose it some...maybe that will put more engery to the ones you want to keep...nice start take care john

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:11 pm

landerloos wrote:
They dont rot easely, if kept dry, I assume that the rotting piece was original below soil surface.
Mine is now been carved for about 6 years, never aplied jinseal or other products, still not rotting, however next spring it wil get some woodhardener.

Peter

Thanks to everyone who is commenting. It is very encouraging to me to be helped. Peter, the tree had a huge tap root which I had cut and then I treated the tree as a cutting for a while. Then I noticed wood lice were coming out of the tree and spotted the problem. I was not aware of the basics back then and I had the tree in rough peat. When I discovered that the soil or substrate needed to be free draining I used catlitter from tesco (I got this excellent advice from reading an article on bonsai4me website). I started removing the pulpy wood and realized that from where I had cut the root there was a huge hole and this moved all the way up. Since water just runs down the tree through the huge hole there wa no more problem only that we have very wet weather and I position the tree next to a wall so that it is abit protected. I will put the wood hardener as soon as I get the chance to go to the hardware store. I have two more privets from the same hedge which I will post images later one of which had this rot so bad. Thank you for commenting.

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:26 pm

JimLewis wrote:

You probably will want to clear away all the little branches in the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree, then take another picture to see what's left.

I have used photoshop to see how the tree will look when the little branches are removed and I have put the images below.



The top which was choped is not much larger than the base. A branch might need to grow as tall as half the tree to indicate some taper and even then that choped area will still be much visible. It would appear that the tree has a an obvious chop and the owner attempted something but stills looks artificial. Would it not be better to use the gap and trunk chopped area as a major feature, deliberately exposing it, or is that a stupid thought. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

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Re: help with privet

Post  will baddeley on Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:21 am

Hello Attwass. I feel this stump could be very good but it has many years of technique for this to be achieved. Peter is right when he says that the deadwood is extremely hard but as with any hardwood trees, some chemical preservative intervention is needed.
As already mentioned, the new shoots are the best for wiring but they thicken very slowly. To build bulk in branches and taper above the carved area.. Wire and shape the new shoots.
Allow unchecked growth for a few years.
Cut back, wire young shoots and repeat.
The tree that Fiona posted is a classic example of a stump without this technique. The branches are far too immature for a trunk of great age. With good feeding and allowed to grow unchecked, Privet will easily extend 2 feet (600 mm) or more in a year and bulk up by 1/4 ", (5mm).

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:08 pm

Many thanks to everyone who has helped me with this. I have gathered all the advice from the posts and come up with this:
1. Great material to start with
2. Clean all dead wood and apply wood hardener. Check for rot in future.
3. remove little branches from lower 1/3 part of tree.
4. wire branches at early stage to get some shape
5. The following developement needs to take much longer but the process is "To build bulk in branches and taper above the carved area. Wire and shape the new shoots. Allow unchecked growth for a few years. Cut back, wire young shoots and repeat."


I will follow this advice and keep reporting progress over the coming years.
I wish I had found this forum two years ago.

I am grateful to Will badeley, Jim lewis, fiona, F Waheedy, moyogi john and landerloos for contributing.

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Another privet stump

Post  adam1234 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:26 pm

Hello,

This was the other stump that I had dug up next to the one that has been discussed here but this one did not have as much rot. Since the tree is dormant I defoliated it to inspect for rot and attempted to wire some of the branches for movement. I realized that with this tree, wiring was not that difficult but had to use quite a large diameter wire to get the branches to bend. By the way this was my first wiring attempt. I got so carried away I wired almost all my other Bonsai to be's. I was very encouraged by the response I got from my post here.

This was the stump year 2010


Before defoliation





After defoliation and wiring attempt




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Re: help with privet

Post  JimLewis on Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:11 pm

What nice material!

I wonder if you want to plan for this being a future planting depth?

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:19 pm

JimLewis wrote:What nice material!

I wonder if you want to plan for this being a future planting depth?

I believe the hedge where these stumps came from was there around 70 years. The first one I counted the rings and when I reached 50 something I just said really old. Jim could you suggest type of pot and colour for the future so that I can start saving. I imagine in 5-6 years I may be able to put it in its proper pot. Thanks

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:32 pm

attwass wrote:
remove little branches from lower 1/3 part of tree.
wire branches at early stage to get some shape

I have defoliated the tree now, removed the little branches 1/3 part of tree and tried to wire as best as I could. I will now follow the advice and leave the branches to grow long for 2 years or more before choping them and repeating this process to build branch size and taper.



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Re: help with privet

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:31 pm

Looks good. Keep a sharp eye on the wires. Privet branches don't thicken rapidly, but you may have to remove some wires, then immediately re-wire, following a different path, to keep from scarring the bark. Scars heal slowly on trees with smooth bark.

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Re: help with privet

Post  adam1234 on Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:21 pm

Will keep an eye on the wire Jim. Thank you for the advice. Just to show more rot on these privet, here is the last of the stumps that I had dug up in that hedge. This one was so bad I do not think it would even survive another 2 years. Last year it surprised me with some growth but one side is completely dead and the rot is too much. The more I tried to remove the rot the more holes I made and eventually I thought I would end up with no tree. I keep this just as a reminder of privet rot but I do not think it would survive let alone make a bonsai ever. I will still treat the remaining parts with wood hardener.






















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Re: help with privet

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