Author Topic: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress  (Read 8741 times)

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« on: July 19, 2009, 06:59 AM »
If you have never experienced a mature Flat-top Bald Cypress in nature you are missing out.  For me it is one of the most intriguing and uniquely American tree styles that we have.  This style can also be found among some of the older pines that grow in the Southeast as well....typically their apexes may not be quite as flat but it still spreads wide and there are very limited lower branches on a tall thin trunk. 

Here is a Bald Cypress that I collected last summer (08).  I purposefully left this tree much taller after collection to create Flat-top style.  All the branches at the top of the tree were left to grow.  This tree was originally placed in my bog garden to recover from collecting.  This Spring, as an experiment I moved into a container with straight turface and placed it back in the bog garden. Thinking that this tree will remain in the bog garden getting much of its food from the nutrient rich water...It has responded extremely well...lots of foliage growth and a load of new roots.

So...now that the tree is doing well and has produced some branches to work with it is time for its first styling.  I used copper for wiring but did not see any great advantage so I will probably use Aluminum in the future.

Pic 1 - Before any work
Pic 2 - after leaf pruning
Pic 3 - before branch selection
Pic 4 - after branch selection
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2009, 07:06 AM »
Pic 5 - wire applied
Pic 6 - after shaping


Please keep in mind this is just the first training.  This tree has several more years of development before it will become what I envision.  I am in the process of developing several of these for a big forest that I have in mind:)

I will continue to post updates of the development of this tree as well as some others in the future.

Your feedback and ideas would be appreciated.
John
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2009, 07:17 AM »
Here is another group of Cypress that I am also training with Flat-tops in mind.  These trees were actually purchased as seedlings from the state several years back and have been grown by Ken.  He allowed me to pick out a couple last year for this planting last summer.

I had to heavily root prune these trees in order to get them as close as I wanted in the container.  I did use bonsai soil for this group and they also were place in the bog garden after transplanting.  This Spring growth and vigor as been very good.  About a month ago I did some pruning and also worked on the spacing of the trunks.  All but one tree responded well to this work and as of yesterday the branches had hardened off and were ready for some wire training.  You will notice that one of trees has not come back as strong so I did not wire or prune it...I will let it continue to build strength and will train it next year.

5 trees in about a 12" round pot...tallest tree is 39"

Pics 1 and 2 before
Pics 3 and 4 after

John
 

AlexV

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2009, 11:17 AM »
I love the flat top look on certain trees.  I currently live in Berkeley and from here down the coast we get Monterey Cypress that do the exact same thing.  If done right it can be a really powerful image.  I am looking forward to seeing these develop!

Alex
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2009, 12:30 PM »
Interesting post John. I've seen bald cypress grow here in Texas in many different shapes, but never actually the flat top. The closest to it I've seen was in Gruene, Tx. on the Guadalupe river. Wish I had taken pictures.  Anyhow, I'm interested in two points of your post. Do you leaf prune them now, July? My BS don't go dorment til late January. And the other point, your " bog garden". Do you actually submerge the roots, and for how long?  Thanks again. Larry
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2009, 11:16 AM »
Interesting post John. I've seen bald cypress grow here in Texas in many different shapes, but never actually the flat top. The closest to it I've seen was in Gruene, Tx. on the Guadalupe river. Wish I had taken pictures.  Anyhow, I'm interested in two points of your post. Do you leaf prune them now, July? My BS don't go dorment til late January. And the other point, your " bog garden". Do you actually submerge the roots, and for how long?  Thanks again. Larry


Hey Larry...

First here are a couple of winter view pics of Flat-top Cypress that I have taken here in SC.

Yes...I leaf prune from late June to late July here if I am going to be wiring or carving on the tree or preparing for a Fall display.  My trees go dormant early than yours..usually in Dec.

I will talk about the bog in the next reply.

John
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2009, 11:29 AM »
The Bog Garden...  Several folks have asked questions about what I am refering to when I mention my bog garden.  I posted this once in the advanced section but nobody seems to be able to see that section yet.  My koi pond has a small area adjacent to it that is filled with pea gravel.  This area is fed from a side shoot off the waterfall.  I originally used this area for growing aquatic plants to help filter the koi pond.  A couple of summers ago I stuck two very small Bald Cypress seedlings in the bog just for fun...planted the roots directly into the gravel.  Needless to say they did very well...from smaller than a pencil to 3" at the base in just over a year's time.  Next, I tried putting newly collected BC directly in the bog garden and had similar success.  I have also set plants that are in containers in the bog as well.  I am contemplating building a water table in which I can sit potted material and have pond water flow across...  Bonsai Aqua Culture:)

John
 

BarbaraM

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 31
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2009, 11:56 AM »
That is a great feature. It makes the habitait more complete as a boggy area would be natural in a pond.  Nice BC by the way.
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2009, 01:43 PM »
John.  Thanks for the flat top pictures. They are inspiring. And for the bog garden pictures also.  You already answered what would have been my next question,  "aqua culture".  So the bog water is from the koi pond water that is somewhat oxygenated.  Somewhat fertilized also, I would think. Great idea. Thanks. Larry
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2009, 01:48 PM »
John.  Thanks for the flat top pictures. They are inspiring. And for the bog garden pictures also.  You already answered what would have been my next question,  "aqua culture".  So the bog water is from the koi pond water that is somewhat oxygenated.  Somewhat fertilized also, I would think. Great idea. Thanks. Larry

Definitely fertilized:)
J
 

bonsaikc

  • Member
  • Sr. Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 330
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2009, 03:24 PM »
John,
I noticed that your lower branches have been wired down just a bit. Is that normal for a mature bald cypress in a flat top pattern?

Chris
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2009, 05:09 PM »
John,
I noticed that your lower branches have been wired down just a bit. Is that normal for a mature bald cypress in a flat top pattern?

Chris

That is a good question Chris...I will have to check the manual:)
John
 

MatsuBonsai

  • John Callaway
  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Thanked: 6 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2009, 05:16 PM »
Jason Sharman gave a very good lecture and slide show to our club earlier this year.  He described 3 forms.  One was immature with downward branches, one was the mature flat-top style, and the third was a hybrid form (I've forgotten if he had a name for this one).

He had very good slides to prove it, so I took his word for it.  :)
 

johng

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2009, 09:15 PM »
Gary Marchal describes four general styles for BC...two of which are specifically Flat-top.  If I recall correctly the difference is primarily in the character of the branches...straight vs shaped or clip and grow vs wire shaped.  Perhaps Gary will read this and add his thoughts on the matter.

In my little world I have also made some observations about how Flat-top trees are formed in nature.  There seems to be two general processes that lead to this form.  The first is derived from the apically dominant characteristic of the species...when I see old BC trees growing in a swamp/forest situation the BC are always above the canopy of the other trees...stretching for the sun.  As they reach this area with no other competition for the light the branches just naturally spread to form a Flat-top..much like many of our native pines.  Since most of the lower parts of the tree are shaded by the other trees in the forest many of the lower branches die.  An alternative form can be seen when an edge is added to the scenario...for example and mature tree growing on the edge of a river or pond.  Where the sun is available, lower branches will persist and often tend have moderate to severe downward sloping angles.  The more exposure to sun,the more branches.  The second form of Flat-top are those trees that recover from some catastrophic incident in there life...primarily in my area that means hurricanes and/or tornadoes twist their tops off...if they survive, many years later the result is often in form of a Flat-top.  Pretty much anything goes in terms of shape and form given this scenario.

Of course my remark to Chris about the manual was all in jest.  My bonsai are simply my own interpretation to what I have observed and experienced in life.  In the end, I hope they appeal to others but they are really just for me:)
John
 

Don Blackmond

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 504
Re: Learning to create Flat-top Style Bald Cypress
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2009, 09:02 AM »
mature flattop