Bald Cypress Clump

I have nicknamed this group of Bald Cypress “Clumpy”, seems fitting. I have had it in my care for about 11 years, but only the last four or five have I really learned enough and have had enough time to start trying to make something of it. I hope to use this page to document the history of Clumpy and show how I got it to where it is today.
I got it in 2007 as a gift from my Dad, who does bonsai, too, you can check out his work at www.bnjl.com. He acquired it in 2001 from a friend and worked on it for several years. The original group had five trees in it, the number was reduced to keep the composition from looking too busy. The following is a collection of photos that I shamelessly stole, I mean, borrowed form his website.

Clumpy, The Early Years, 2001 - 2006

  • 2001
  • 2001
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2002
  • 2002
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2004
  • 2006
Unfortunately, even though I got it in 2007, the oldest pictures I have of it from its time with me is from 2010.  Most of my pre-2010 pictures are/were on a computer that I no longer have access to. Prepare yourself, they are just crappy cellphone pictures and not of a healthy composition.  This is what happens when your ex-wife cares for your trees.  I was told that they were being watered, but that was not true, I lost a lot of good material that year, all sunbaked and crispy.  When I was finally allowed access to them in August of 2010, this is how I found Clumpy:
A month or two in the hot sun during a South Alabama summer, without water, I thought it was a goner, I mean when you scratched the trunks, there was not any moisture in them.  I took it to its new home anyway and placed it in a cement tub filled with water, that was on August 25.  By August 29, four days later, I at least got a glimpse of hope, two of the trees had produced buds on some of the lower limbs.  A small miracle!
If anyone mentions to you that Bald Cypress are not tough trees, send them to this page. I think that they are one of, if not the most, scrappiest tree out there.

I wasn’t real good about taking pictures of the trees early on, so I have none of this composition from 2012 or 2013. There may be some around somewhere, but I can’t put my hand on them, so on to 2013. I seems to have recovered nicely from its bush with death in 2010, this is where it was three years later.

April 2013

October 2013

December 2013

March of 2014 saw cut back, wire, and a new apex/leader for one of the trees.  It was allowed to continue to fill in.  We had some decent cool weather in the fall of 2014, so I got some decent fall foliage.  I love the red/orange it makes when I get to see it, our usual warm fall weather causes them to just wither and turn to a straw color, as it does to other trees.

March 2014

April 2014

April 2014, Knee Formation

May 2014

May 2014

July 2014

November 2014

November 2014, Knee Formation

2015 brought some changes for Clumpy, and for the rest of my trees, too.  I decided that I needed to get serious about my collection and either try to make them look like something or get rid of ones with no potential and get better material.  This is where she was in January of 2015, in all of her leafless glory.

January 2015

In March, it got a repot.  I was kinda scared of what I might find as I could not recall the last time I had repotted it and because of the troubles that I had in 2010.  When it was removed from the pot, there were plenty of roots.  This is how it went:

Trimmed Before Repot

Cutting the Tie-Down Wires

Out of the Pot

Plenty of Roots

Cleaned-up and Trimmed

Roots Removed

Nebari

Nebari

Knee Formation

Knee Formation

Nebari

Nebari

Nebari

Back in the Pot

During the repot, I noticed that one of the trees had some reverse taper near the apex, it looked kinda bad and was such that I did not think that the tree would “grow” into it.  Look at it in this photo, it is the furthest tree on the right:

A Little Reverse Taper

Well, there is only one way to fix this, break out the saw.  No worries, BC are such fast growers, you will hardly notice this next year.

Chopped

Reverse Taper Removed

It seemed to be agreeable to the repot and filled in nicely.  By July, I was able to select a new leader and smooth down the chop done at the repot.
Rounding out 2015 is a couple of pictures from November, when I pulled the pot out of the tub that it stays submerged (if you want to read more about growing BC submerged, check out this article) in most of the year.  BC really are beasts when it comes to growth, even after a repot in March, it still managed to put on enough rootage to escape the drain holes.
Not too many pictures from 2016, I did chop the leader from 2015 again to create some more taper and in July/August carved the chop for transition.
In 2017, I really stepped up my game, well for me anyway, for others it just might be regular “game”.  Anyway, by May it had really came out so in early June I cut back, thinned, and wired every branch.

May 2017

May 2017

May 2017

May 2017

May 2017

June 2017 Trim and Wire

June 2017 Trim and Wire

June 2017 Trim and WIre

June 2017 Trim and Wire

June 2017 Trim and Repot

By the end of July, the branches were set and it was unwired trimmed and thinned again. I finally feel like I am getting some decent ramification on the branches.  Also, I worked on the perpetual apex project from 2015, again, hopefully I got it right this time.
Here is something else interesting:

Leaf Galls

I get these occasionally on my BC, they are leaf galls.  They are actually harmless to the tree and are caused by an insect called the cypress gall midge.  The female midge lays her eggs in the tip of a leaf and the cells there mutate, enlarge and encapsulate the eggs.  They hatch the following year from the galls which fall to the ground with the leaves in the winter.  I usually don’t remove them unless I show the tree.

All of the branches were wired again in February of 2018, taking advantage of the absence of foliage.  It had put on a little additional growth at the end of the previous summer.
New growth started to appear in March, I love the look of fresh BC foliage, it reminds me of tiny feathers.
Starting to look good in April and I am starting to like how it is turning out.
By May, it had completely filled in, lots of new growth to wire.
Take a look at this picture:
I read several places on the internet that you should not wire or cut the “green” growth on BC, that it will not back bud as it has not finished growing. And, that you should wait until it lignifies.  I have found that this is not true, just another bonsai myth.  If you look closely at the picture, you can see that it is definitely green growth, I wired it in April and cut it half.  In May I removed the wire and cut it again, and, as you can see, it had branched very well, while green!  I see this time and time again.

More To Come, Please Stop By Later

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