Author Topic: Another Engelmann Spruce  (Read 2395 times)

coh

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 152
  • Thanked: 4 times
Another Engelmann Spruce
« on: July 16, 2014, 10:13 AM »
JRob asked about my engelmann spruce in his thread, so I figured I'd start a thread about it. Feel free to offer comments or suggestions.

Acquired in April 2011 from Jim Doyle, tree was supposedly collected in 2009. I was advised to just grow it without any trimming, wiring, repotting for a year or two. Was planted in 100% pumice and I was advised to water every day during the summer. Well, I thought the pumice was holding too much water and held back a bit, and that was the wrong thing to do as a lot of the new growth that first year died back or was damaged. So that set things back a bit. Should have listened! It did bud decently in the fall and roots were growing out of the drain holes.

In spring 2012 I decided to slip pot to a grow box that had better dimensions (and drainage). Gave me a chance to have a quick look at the roots which looked very healthy. I used 100% pumice. All the buds opened and the new growth was healthy. The first photo attached is from April 2012 as the buds were opening after repotting. Pretty sparse so this is the bet view of the structure. What I liked about the tree (other than the reasonable size and price) was the "history" that was apparent - an initial leader had died back (you can see the deadwood extending up from the base) early on, and then the dieback process repeated itself near the top (there is another dead leader that is not as easy to see at the top...on the 4th photo I've circled the location).

Tree has grown very strongly since 2012. The second and third photos are from June 2012, after all the new candles had opened. I don't have a more recent photo, but the tree has just gotten fuller and stronger. I've been cutting candles each spring. This year I did a more significant repot to a slightly shallower pot; this involved a fair amount of root work (removing excess roots at the bottom and opening up/aerating the root mass). The tree is stronger than ever and should be ready for some styling work this fall or next spring.

I hope to take advantage of the history that is shown in the dieback episodes (4th image shows the old deadwood areas circled) when styling though I think it may be difficult to produce something that seems in scale. Total height is about 16-17". Can the needle length on these be reduced? Can you induce enough backbudding to keep foliage masses reasonably close to the trunk? Any tips would be appreciated.

Chris

 

Leo in NE Illinois

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 303
  • Thanked: 9 times
Re: Another Engelmann Spruce
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2014, 07:20 PM »
Looks like a nice one to work on. I like it.

I picked up a couple bare root 3 yr old seedlings this spring (2014). Don't have enough experience to say anything about foliage reduction other than the current size of your foliage seems fine. It should not be a "problem" at your tree's current size. Your needles are not visually too massive, though it is not in proportion to a scaled down model of a spruce. But bonsai are not scale models of the bigger tree. Each needle will suggest a whole branch or branchlet of foliage in the finished image. I wouldn't worry about needle size until you are within 2 or 3 years of exhibiting the tree.
 

coh

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 152
  • Thanked: 4 times
Re: Another Engelmann Spruce
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 11:16 AM »
Looks like a nice one to work on. I like it.

I picked up a couple bare root 3 yr old seedlings this spring (2014). Don't have enough experience to say anything about foliage reduction other than the current size of your foliage seems fine. It should not be a "problem" at your tree's current size. Your needles are not visually too massive, though it is not in proportion to a scaled down model of a spruce. But bonsai are not scale models of the bigger tree. Each needle will suggest a whole branch or branchlet of foliage in the finished image. I wouldn't worry about needle size until you are within 2 or 3 years of exhibiting the tree.


I have a somewhat vague image in mind, of a tree struggling to survive after having gone through 2 previous "cataclysmic" events that killed off the existing trunks. Not sure how well it will work at this scale. There is an image of one of Dan Robinson's trees in "Gnarly Branches" that shows what I have in mind, but on a smaller scale...his tree (a much larger, collected Hinoki...page 225 if you have access to the book) is one of my all time favorite bonsai. If you've seen that tree you realize that this one is going to be a challenge because the scaling is completely different. We'll see what happens.

Chris
 

Leo in NE Illinois

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 303
  • Thanked: 9 times
Re: Another Engelmann Spruce
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 11:07 AM »
I like that you already have bark forming on the trunk. Your tree seems to have "enough" branches, if it were my tree I would likely not remove more than one or two branches at most. I would mostly just wire them to shape. I've read about the pruning back of the first spring flush of growth before it hardens off (timing? middle or late June - not sure) I was not going to try it until next year after my tree starts to show signs of vigor. Right now it is just getting established after being shipped to me bare root in April.

A few years and your tree will look quite nice. The idea of "copying" a tree is something that usually falls short, there is always the fact that your own tree never looks at the photo  ;D But your source of inspiration is one of the better bonsai in the country. A worthy goal if the spruce co-operates. I would continue to give the tree time to "tell you" what it likes to do. It looks nice and healthy now.