I collected this cedar in 2013 and only this year decided to style it as a full cascade. The big character jin jutting towards the lower left is amazing, but presents a practical challenge for getting the tree into a classic cascade pot. Instead of removing it, I thought it would be interesting to try to bend it flush to the trunk. In addition to solving the pot problem, it would also add some thickness to the base of the trunk, which has some distracting reverse taper.
The cascade style is often a solution for a tree that emerges from the soil with a sharp bend.
Before bending the jin. This image also better shows the reverse taper of the trunk.
Some of the jin had to be shortened so it could clear the soil surface when bent in. I hate removing ancient deadwood from collected trees, but sometimes it is necessary to realize the design.
The elbow of the jin was notched and some wood removed from the back. It was also wrapped in a wet rag several days before the operation.
Strategic parts of the jin were protected with aluminum foil then steamed with a torch to facilitate the bending. Two clamps were used to crank the jin in.
We were amazed that the jin did not show signs of cracking or tearing. When flush with the trunk, it was secured with two stainless steel screws.
A better look at the bent jin.
The bent jin from the back.
After setting the basic structure. The two unnecessary branches will be kept for a year or two until the main foliage mass gains more vigour. Hopefully this will help minimize dieback of the two live veins, both of which are visible from the front.
Photoshop without sacrifice branches. The crown needs to be about 30% larger to better balance out the massive trunk.
Image from May 2015 repotting. This tree has a surprisingly compact root ball and while it will not be easy to get this into a cascade pot, I think it will be possible without any major operations.
This is the first large Eastern White Cedar I collected. After four years of growing, the foliage mass was finally ready for some real work and this year it has gotten a lot of attention. In July it was thinned and roughly wired, and today it received its second and final thinning for the year.
I think this tree is actually two separate trees that have been growing together for a long time. The second trunk on the right is growing towards the back, and I’ve always toyed with the idea of removing it since it seems out of place. David Easterbrook and Marco Invernizzi both advised me not to remove it, and now I am starting to understand why. That secondary trunk provides much of the depth of the tree and without it I would be left with something very two-dimensional.
It will be difficult to find a traditional bonsai container that works for this tree. I’ve got some ideas for the future planting, but it will not be easy to pull off. The final planting will determine which of the large jins I end up keeping, if any. If I can sort it out next spring, this tree might be ready to be shown in Fall 2015.
As collected Fall 2010. Note the fist-sized rock lodged in the base of the trunk which had to be cut out with a die grinder.
Late summer 2011 after removing a major foliage mass from the upper left of the tree.
Summer 2012, completely barerooted to remove the toxic muck and repotted into a much smaller grow box.
Summer 2013. Some major pruning and coarse wiring was done this year to open up the foliage and set the basic structure of the secondary branches.
July 2014 after thinning and re-wiring.
Today after another round of thinning and minor adjustments. There is still a fair amount of floppy foliage but that is gradually being replaced with tighter growth or removed entirely.
Future planting angle?