Landscape Arborvitae to Bonsai – First Styling

This tree have been on my bonsai “to do” radar in the last week.  Somehow I had an itch to style it because it looked ugly that I want to clean it up.  I collected this tree from one of our landscape jobs in Jan 2015.   During its first year,  I planted it in the ground.  That year’s growing season, I slowly removed the top foliage to encourage the  lower foliage to grow.  The second year 2016, I moved the tree into a smaller plastic pot that it’s currently in now.  I also used a chain saw to remove a large portion of the top so it wasn’t top heavy.   I’ve written about this tree twice.  The first post was one of the very first few post I did when I started this blog.  I called it “Envisioning the Future” (Did not link it here because the original photos on that post is not there.  I realized that I remove the photos from my media library to save data storage, but probably also because they were less than pleasing to look at).  The second one was on April fools day April 1st 2016 “Fool’s Dream- year 2 of the arborvitae.”  Looking back at those post, there were 2 main lessons that really stand out:  Clarity of Vision (Plan for this tree) and Faith (that this tree will turn into something worthwhile as a bonsai despite the odds against it).   After the initial styling, I’m encouraged that this tree could become something worthwhile.  I had a 5 year plan for this tree as a bonsai (whatever that means, probably for the tree to look good enough to display or show?).  I will continue to fertilize this tree to encourage the foliage to fill up.  If more foliage comes in by fall, I might do more fine wiring then.  If not, it can wait until next year (year 3).

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When this tree was first collected, I removed about half of the foliage. Also, I didn’t have a pot or anything to protect the roots. I think I found a paper towel bag in the recycle bin.

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This was the tree in the ground after it was collected. It was in a place in my yard I call the “purgatory”. If a tree lives through the “purgatory”, it gets to form a line at the pearly gates of bonsai heaven.

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I did a quick sketch of my vision of this tree January 7, 2015. I forgot about this sketch before my first styling. Now just looking at it again and comparing to the tree now. The tree will need to fill in before it can look like this.
This is how the tree looks before this weekend’s work.
This is what it looks like where I cut off the trunk/branches with a chain saw.
I carved the trunk to diminish the reverse taper and to start the process of aging the tree with initial carving
This the carved side of the tree which will mostly be in the back for now.
August 20, 2017 – Looking at the front view with the new angle I will plant it in the future.



Published by tony bonsaiko

My little trees are my daily reminders of our grand connection to this beautiful and mysterious universe.

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