Species Specific > Ponderosa Pine Bonsai Discussion

Ponderosa Pine First Styling

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I meant to post this a month or so ago when I actually did the work, but never got around to it.  Here is a ponderosa I picked up from Nature's Way about 3-4 years ago.  First step was to get it in some chunky pumice, and then it sat for 2 years to grow and be fed heavily.  I really wish I had a before and after pic of some branches, because the backbudding has been substantial. After seeing the tree respond well to being heavily fed, I decided to pot it into the bonsai pot you see.  Sort of a tight fit, because of some enormous roots, but that was to be expected.  Hopefully, the next time I repot it, I can work at the chunky roots again.  It is in about 90%+ modern soil at this point.  There is very little mountain soil left within the rootball.  This spring I wired the entire tree and began to set some pads etc.  It looks a little rough, because most of the needles are 5"+ long from being heavily fed the last few years.  Still, I think its going in the right direction, and has the potential to easily get to the point I am illustrating in the next two virts. The more I look at it, I think the apex needs to be moved more over onto the centerline of the trunk.  The apex is made of two main branches that are the thickness of my thumb and of my pinky.  I am confident I can move them to the right 3-4". Also, the lowest branch currently has a smaller branch that swoops out and muddies up the negative space between the middle pad and the lowest pad. This should be easily wired down to tighten up the lowest pad.  These two tweaks give the tree some much needed negative space and more of a typical triangular canopy. Then, in 2 years when I repot it, I think a 15-20 degree change in planting angle will further improve the tree. I believe this virt also included a slight downward tweak on the middle pad. Finally, as I was typing this up I decided to go back and revisit this final image and play around with the current layers in photoshop to see if i found something I could further improve. This option 4 moves the apex to the right a bit more(now we are getting into the realm of what might not be possible) and growing out the bottom pad longer, while curtailing the middle pad.  I also cut the needles to 3" to show how much this tree will sharpen up with shorter needles.

Ok, there is my idea for the future of this tree. options 2 and 3 are very possible I believe.  Sometimes when messing around in photoshop, its easy to lose touch with reality and create changes to a tree that just arent possible.  This might be the case with option 4 and moving the apex even more.  I plan to focus on increasing the strength and fullness of this tree this season, while attempting to achieve a better energy balance.  The top is still very vigorous with the bottom being slightly weaker. Things are becoming more balanced with time.  Other than cutting needles, does someone follow a different program of balancing? Honestly, I think the apex branches shifting to the right 3-4 inches will help, because it will let additional light reach the lower branches. The tree is currently 14" from the right of the pot with a 3" trunk.  Purchased for $50 by a poor college boy, glad I decided to get the tree and forego pizza for a month  : )


nice tree.  do you know where is was collected? $50 is a steal.

I wanna say Nature's Way gets most of their trees from Randy Knight.  I might stand to be corrected later.  Yeah, I went for woodstock with walter pall and he was unable to go, because of the icelandic volcano(cancelled all flights), so I think I got all my trees additionally discounted.  Still, very fair prices at Nature's Way.

Owen Reich:
There's a ponderosa there with my name on it.  I'll be there in July to teach.  The spruce and many deciduous trees there are also nice.

I need to make it a goal to head out that way atleast once a year.  There is a great collection of collected material there.  Part of me wishes they had more field grown "traditional" species, but you cant have it all.  Owen, whats the class on?  I bet it is booked by now. I live in Pittsburgh, so harrisburg is a 4hour drive for me. It is worth it for a class and some material shopping.


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