Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Evergreen Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: mcpesq817 on October 25, 2009, 10:25 PM

Title: New Douglas Fir
Post by: mcpesq817 on October 25, 2009, 10:25 PM
Here is a Douglas Fir I picked up from Larry Jackel through a club workshop.  It's a bit hard to tell from the pictures, but the trunk has a natural spiral twist to it, and the base has really nice flare once you brush back a little of the soil around the trunk.  First two pictures show the tree as received, next two after working on it this weekend.

The big challenge of the tree was to twist and lower that main branch at the elbow.  I was pretty pleased to get it pulled around and down as much as I was able to.  Other than that, I wired the lower branching to get it spaced out and in the ballpark and trimmed off a couple of weaker branches that would have no place in the final design.

The upper branch will be cut back over time and eventually jinned, but I figured that I did enough to the tree that I would keep it for now to keep the tree stronger since I'm not in any rush. 

If anyone has any tips for Douglas Firs, I would love to hear them.  Larry had mentioned that they tend to grow on the north side of the mountains, so they like it a bit cooler and out of hot direct sun.  I'd be very interested to know if anyone has had any success with repotting, backbudding, etc.
Title: Re: New Douglas Fir
Post by: tom tynan on November 21, 2009, 02:02 PM
I like what you have done with this Fir so far - the foliage feels alitttle off-balance with the trunk - but I am hoping you are playing with different potting angles so this may help. I think when you jin the straight top - this will help. You should clean out any weak or small branches that have no buds and this should help the stronger branches.

I am not surprised that no one has responded so far - Douglas Fir is not commonly seen. I have tried Sub-Alpine Fir [abies lasiocarpa] - collected trees with some success and some failure as well. My comments are based on that species.

Yes - Larry's advice should be taken regarding the strong sun and the North side location. You need to make sure that the native soil is removed at some point - because collected Firs will tend to weaken because of root problems. What causes this I do not know. A deeper pot - when you do repot - may also help. A bit of screened fir bark mixed in with your soil mix may also help. Lately - I have been using a trick where a larger pan [like one used to collect oil - when you change your oil] is filled with gravel and then the tree with its container sits ontop and inside the gravel. A few holes in the larger pan help with drainage. When the gravel gets wet it creates some dampness and moisture locally around the tree. This is worth a try. If you are in DC - well you know about heat and humidity. It is a cool tree and if you can keep it alive it should make a very nice tree.....regards....Tom 
Title: Re: New Douglas Fir
Post by: mcpesq817 on November 22, 2009, 01:56 PM
Hey Tom, thanks very much for the tips.  Really helpful!

My picture taking stinks.  The trunk will be straight up, but the pics make it look like it's slanting a bit.  I was also able to pull/rotate that main branch down a little further, so it looks better.

I do agree with your assessment on the foliage.  I cut back the top half of the foliage and cut off the weak branches, but didn't want to take off too much foliage given all the twisting I put that main branch through and the fact that the tree was collected this year.  Eventually the top half of the foliage will come off.  The bottom half had two big branches, which I ended up wiring to layer one on top of the other.  I think it still looks like too much foliage, so I think one of the two branches will ultimately come off (or be jinned) and the other thinned a bit once I'm sure that the tree looks healthy.

On the repotting, I'm thinking that I might repot this spring and remove half the native soil, but not touch the roots otherwise.  That seems to have worked out with my ponderosas.  I'll have to try your pan/gravel idea too.  I have a spot where the DF will get morning sun and some shade in the afternoon, but the pan/gravel idea is probably work exploring given how hot it gets here.

Thanks again for the tips - really appreciate it!