Pruning My Witches Tree and My Little Cedar Spirit Tree, The Bonsai Zone, March 2021


Pruning My Witches Tree and My Little Cedar Spirit Tree

Hi everyone nigel saunders here today we’re going to be working on two fuji occidentalis or eastern white cedars one is my little spirit cedar tree and the other is my witch’s tree both of these trees are planted over top of a rock so it’s going to be a root over rock composition and i piled up soil around the rock and i put all these stones in place to hold the roots against the rock until they kind of grow enough that they stay in position i totally forget what the rock looked like underneath these which is the front of the tree and all that so i’m going to go back now and review when i planted the trees and we’ll get an idea of maybe what it’ll look like once all this is removed the little cedar spirit tree the ojibwe call it manidu jizikons the tree is an ancient occidentalis or white cedar it grows on the north shore of lake superior and is likely over 500 years old [Music] this tree is held sacred to the ojibwe to many it represents survival through the hardships of life despite its old age it’s less than 4 meters or 13 feet high i think i want the tree sitting on one of these ledges um i was looking at the little cedar spirit tree in nature and it’s kind of like almost at the top of the rock so probably this ledge here would look the best kind of sitting right here so i’ll try the tree out on this ledge so sort of maybe like like that it fits in quite nicely there and that’s got a good front to the tree you can maybe rotate it just a bit to about there now i’ll arrange all the roots get my root rake and i’ll just arrange them all draping over the rock and then as i say later on i can go and select the roots that i want to keep and which ones i want to get rid of [Music] getting soil in all the cracks and crevices i’ll level it out a bit with soil but yeah probably something like that so let’s put the tree on top now something like that and these roots would all be growing down around the rock i think that’s good i think the next step is to get it in the bonsai pot and start playing around with the composition make sure all those roots are in all right i’ll start filling some soil in now so i’ll kind of stretch the roots against the rock and put the soil in to kind of hold the roots in place like that and the rock will be partially buried in this planting and we can always raise it up later on in the tree’s life this is just to initially get it all all the roots established some of the soil was frozen outside it uh again it’s still snowing um you know this april showers bring may flowers thing it’s just not working this spring it’s we’re getting april snow this april snow has got to go i reviewed the videos when i planted the trees over top of the rocks and it’s pretty exciting they’re really cool rocks i think it’s going to look really nice when i uncover you know the soil and these rocks from the root base i do have this one turned around the wrong way so that’s supposed to be the front of that tree and i think this one’s correct yeah so today i’m going to prune them up and i may do a little exploration to see what i can remove maybe i think a lot of these rocks can be removed they were just kind of holding the tree in place until those roots got established i think cedars grow root systems fairly quickly and i can test how stable the tree is over top of the rock so i think some of these i can remove this pot is really heavy with all these rocks on top of it i also had these rocks on to protect the birds were kicking off all the soil in the moss so it kind of armor-plated the root system so it didn’t get damaged by you know birds and maybe squirrels too so yeah i may take some of the rocks away and maybe put them right back uh just to protect the root base i don’t think i can remove everything this year i think it’ll take at least two years for these roots to kind of get established over the rocks so but we’ll maybe have a look and see what’s going on with the root base today i’ll be pruning up these trees my plan is to let them grow wild each year and then every fall or spring prune them back let them grow again prune them back to try and get that really aged look to the tree keeping them compact and developing all kinds of cool features on them deadwood um developing the trunks and the roots and yeah so that’s my plan is just sort of a yearly pruning of these trees for now anyway until they till they sort of start entering the refinement stage which may be 10 maybe 15 years from now who knows it’s really windy today there’s a big storm blowing in a rainstorm so hopefully you can hear me okay so i’m going to start by pruning up my little cedar spirit tree it already has a lot of really cool character on the trunk and on the branches so i’ll start with the branch that comes up the front here i’ve got a ginned on the top here deadwood a new branch leader coming up here so i want to keep this tree compact and small and develop all those cool features so i’ll prune this front branch up first all right so i’m looking at the tree so this is this part of the branch is dead and it continues up here i’ve got a hanging branch i’ll prune that back shorter to here it’s another one here i can prune the tip off not really strong branches and i’ll just pinch these tips too keeping them compact like that just seeing what’s going on with the branches i have a branch growing in the inside of the of another branch junction here i don’t want that so i’m going to remove that one right here taking that middle part out there’s a bit of dead foliage in here i can remove okay now on this branch it’s been pruned off at the top before and i’ve got two branches one on top of each other coming out the side here i’m going to prune off the upper one keeping the plant nice and compact so i’m going to prune this one off like that that keeps my weeping branches here we want to get all kinds of age in this tree to look like it’s gone through everything and still survived so i think i think i’m going to take the front part of this branch off so i’ll take it off here keeping my foliage to the back and i’ll reduce that back too like that i’ll just pinch this shoot i kind of like these two weeping branches uh i don’t want too many of them so i’m thinking of maybe reducing this branch down in height maybe to here and i’m wondering should i just make it dead wood or prune it back let me think here i think i’ll just prune it back to here here i go like that so that reduces this branch down a lot now i can probably still do a little reduction at the back here and that’s got that nice and compact so i think that’ll do for that upper branch here i think that’s looking good now we’ve got to deal with this side one yeah so i’ve got to reduce this these branches i’m going to take the vigorous groin tip off here like that there’s a really vigorous shoot on the inside here that i can remove that’s a new shoot there’s a vertical shoot here i can remove like that and then i can prune this one back like that between these a little shorter like that and there’s a new shoot here i can prune back and the tip off here like that and a little pinching to round these pads out neaten them up a bit and that’s got a lot of this of this main branch here pruned up nice and short and compact um i do have kind of multiple branches coming from one spot here i’ll take off this one and just keep the one okay so that’s got that main that forward trunk line pruned up here it’s looking pretty good and compact so now i’ve got i wanted these three branches to kind of be equal strength and this one’s the weak one over here um so just getting rid of some of this dead foliage down low here it’s quite typical on cedar to get a little die back every year over the winter the weaker shoots kind of dry up sometimes so it’s always hard to know you know do i let this grow to thicken up or do i do it slowly prune it off let it grow i’ve got to get character in this branch it’s a fairly young branch i do have a hanging branch from the back one coming down here i think i will prune it off it’s just it’s too straight i’ve got to get some movement in it this is a tortured tree after all it’s gone through everything so i can prune it off i could prune it off up here but then i’ve still got this long straight section so i may want to prune it off shorter and then regrow that there’s one point to the inside here i’m going to take that one off and there’s another one down here that i’m going to take off like that yeah so i think i will i think i’m going to take it right back i wish i could keep this branch but it’s kind of pointing to the inside however i think i will take it off here for now so here i go this is a fairly big cut on the tree like that a whole top coming off that looks much better the tree’s a lot more compact now so i’ll prune some of these vigorous shoots back here just take the tips off them like that here and i’ll round them pinch the edges like that i kind of got two branches coming from one spot there i’m thinking i don’t want that lower one i’m going to remove it totally like that now down here i’ve got i’ve got a branch coming from the back branch that’s kind of a cascading branch which is pretty cool but you can’t see it so that’s not cool so what does one do here in this area i’ve got a few branches down low i think i want to prune those away so you can see that cascading branch behind so here i go i’m going to prune them away there’s one gone and then maybe i’ll keep part of this branch maybe i’ll just keep this part of it this little chute down here and there’s that cascading branch i’ll prune the upward growth off it bring back this strong branch at the back and shorten this all the new shoots on it a bit again keeping it compact now there’s a lot of going on here there’s a few too many branches so i’ll take this one off like that that’s looking better much better yeah so now that brings us around to the back branch here this one right here it’s getting quite vigorous and needs a lot of pruning to get it more compact yeah it’s got a lot of vigorous growth on it so let’s deal with that one now i’ll prune this one back taking some of the vigor off of it this one i’m going to take this upper part off keeping more of the cascading part push these chutes back a bit now so this branch comes up it has a front branch a little cascading branch there there’s one on the inside here i’m going to remove there another one here just open it up a bit now i’ve got a really vigorous branch on the top here let’s take some vigor out of that and just prune it way back here to there taking that off take this one back to here reduce some of these shoots back vigorous one out the back here we got to take that one back here’s another one here [Music] you always have to keep green healthy foliage on the branches otherwise the branch will die back it’s getting there this branch i don’t i’ve got a lot of branches in this area i think i need to simplify that i like the little one coming up and i want one off to the side here i think i’m going to take that hanging one off here i’m going to take one off here like that so you can see the structure of the branch a bit more and then i don’t think i want this one here so that one can come out that simplifies this up a bit so i have sort of a branch leader one back here one off to the side one up front and i think i’m going to take this one back even further right back here it’s starting to get kind of a ball shape here because there’s so many branches growing from one spot so that’s the reason i’m kind of simplifying this take off this one and maybe this one here too just cleaning up this structure here and we’ll take these ones off on the inside don’t need those and i’ve got too many coming out the back area one two three all in a row don’t need all those so i’m going to take off this one coming towards the inside here and i think also this one that’s better just reduce the tips here bit of pinching [Music] now let’s look at it from the front that looks much better [Music] maybe take away this one on the inside here there yeah that’s looking pretty good i’m happy with this branch now so now we’ve got to go up top here we’ve got all this vigorous growth up top got to get that pruned back so i don’t think i’ve got this big strong branch growing up kind of coming forward and i don’t think i want that i don’t want it that strong i’ll put it back to make it more compact for starters to hear like that that gets a lot off and yeah i don’t like that it comes from this back branch straight towards you so i’m going to take it off totally it’s getting really strong there we go that’s gone yeah that looks better i’ll print some of these shoots back really strong shoots um there’s a branch that’s kind of overhanging this apex from here so i’m going to take that out this one too so now we can kind of see there’s still some branches overhanging this apex here so i’ve got to get rid of that or shorten it which i’ll shorten to here so here comes a big big piece of this top off like that okay so i got to reduce the top here come in here if i can get in there there we go top can come off like that and then i’ve got to reduce all the vigor back in these other branches so taking them back to some healthy side branches here like that bring that back to there like that now what do i want to do with this branch i want to just take it off to this lowest branch here like that just reducing everything here a bit of pinching well you can really see the structure of the tree now it looks a lot more tortured now that you can see all the branches in that i could produce this one back a bit here pinch these ones back i think that’s looking pretty good i’m happy with the little cedar spirit tree it’s a little thick here too much foliage on this branch um i’ll just take it back a little bit [Music] [Music] okay i think that’s it let’s have a look at it now [Music] [Applause] [Music] i’ll switch from working on the little cedar spirit tree to my witch’s tree now all right so same procedure i’m going to reduce the vigor back expose the structure of the tree and then let it grow once again so on these trees i want to keep any interesting branches you know any contorted kind of branches i want to keep [Music] i’ll reduce this one back here just pinching the tip off pinch my tips take this branch off there and take the top off here the tip off so now i’ve got kind of a weeping branch on there um take the bigger back on this one prune it back so i’ll start at the top there’s some really vigorous branches sticking up here and i’m actually going to take it off just keeping one branch coming off of it to here so here goes the top just like that there’s another vigorous branch here and again i’ll i’m gonna take that right off it’s just too vigorous i’ve got a better branch below it so here i go i’m gonna take that whole top off like that bring this back it’s back i don’t want this canopy looking like a green umbrella on the tree it’s got to be sparse [Music] keeping all my twisty branches so i’m looking at this this trunk line comes up why i’m going to take off some of these branches going towards the inside here there’s one there take that out i’m wondering this trunk line is very flowing i don’t really want that on this tree so i’m wondering do i prune it off somewhere tough decision it does have a lot of nice taper in it i think i’ll keep it i’ll just maybe i’ve got two branches growing from the same spot here they’re kind of bar branches these ones the ones on this side even though i just prune that branch they kind of cross over the trunks behind so if i wanted to keep a branch i’d probably keep the other one here yeah because these are kind of growing the inside of the curve anyway so i’m going to take them off [Music] like that yeah that looks better now i got a branch up here that bugs me it’s kind of long straight with no foliage and it curves and i i don’t like it um i’m going to get rid of it entirely i just don’t like that branch at all i could make it dead wood um [Music] because the position of it isn’t too bad maybe i’ll just shorten it and it’ll become a deadwood branch maybe to here there it goes so that’s looking better um i’ve got a branch that comes up quite high here and again it’s on the inside of a curve here it’s getting quite thick i’m going to remove it like that keeping this finer one out front here all right let’s have a look at this branch next uh it comes up it’s got a really vigorous new shoot coming up the top of it here i’ll get rid of that [Music] too vigorous uh there’s one another new shoot coming out the top here i’ll get rid of that the rest just needs a bit of pinching like that okay i’ve got a really vigorous shoot here coming out to the side and [Music] it kind of crosses the branch behind it so i’ve got to decide well which one do i want to keep here kind of got two branches coming out in this area one goes in back towards the inside of the tree i think i’ll take that one off the one on the inside here like that and then i’ll prune this one shorter so it comes kind of forward right back to here like that making that a little short branch off to the side prune the tips back and then i’ve got a branch this one kind of comes straight out towards the front trying to decide if i like that or i don’t want all my foliage really high on the tree either but it isn’t a good branch i think i’m going to take it off it’ll just cause more problems in the future like that yeah that’s better there’s a branch a new vigorous branch growing here at the base of this other branch i’ll get rid of that just kind of cleaning the foliage up here a bit and there’s another one coming up the side here i get get rid of that too like that cleaning that up i’m going to take these apexes off here these shoots on the apex reducing the back like that another one out the back here i can remove and then i got a strong chute coming off here i’ll put it right back like that and this one back see i can see i’m starting to get the apex more compact this back branch here i can take back that’s got that apex pretty good there’s another vigorous shoot coming here off of here that take that back too like that so that’s kind of got that first branch coming towards me pruned up quite reasonable i think now let’s go on i’ve got a branch coming up here i’ve cut off the top and it’s grown a new really twisty branch here which i like so i don’t think i want any dead wood here so i’m going to take that dead wood off that branch now that part of it off i want to highlight kind of this twisty branch here so here i go just like that i’ll just clean that up a bit more here [Music] get in there like that yeah so i like this twisty branch here it looks really good this one’s kind of getting long and straight with no foliage in this section that’s not so good i don’t really want to remove it [Music] well i’ll reduce it as much as i can taking the vertical part off like that pruning it back [Music] so that’s better we’ll see if anything develops in this area if not usually something comes off the trunk and i can develop a new branch if it’s got light now i’m going to i’m going to prune up this apex now getting it a little more compact i don’t want this vertical we gotta shoot these vigorous ones back that’s a really vigorous branch coming towards the back here don’t think i want that no not even sure i want this one here it’s kind of weird i’m gonna take that one off that keeping this up a little higher i’ll reduce this one back i think now how’s it looking looking a little more like an apex it’s not bad it’s a little more compact you can still make it a little more compact not a whole lot but a little bit i’ve got a double branch in this area i got to decide which is the better one i think it’s the upper one i’m gonna take this lower one off like that [Music] yeah that’s got that branch pruned up pretty good now yeah so we’ve done the front one here and this branch and now i’ve got my third one here so i got to prune that one up the dead branch here i can remove all right let’s get this branch pruned up now there’s one coming on the inside here i’ll get rid of that um so this branch comes up has a lot of sub branching comes up to a dead stump here um i think i think i’m going to take that whole this whole thick part off on this branch i don’t like it i like these finer branches off to this side so here i go like that i get to rid a lot of foliage [Music] yeah it was getting really thick let’s just look at it from the front once again yeah that looks much better getting rid of all that thick part and i can reduce these vigorous branches back so looking for good shoots here to here like that one vigorous one here i’ll take that back to there [Music] there’s one kind of sticking up here [Music] it’s kind of an interesting branch i just need to shorten it maybe to here like that for now we’ll see what it looks like no i don’t like this one it looks kind of funny from the front if you look at it from the front my branch kind of comes up and then it it’s a very strong branch and then goes straight up again a little strange looking i’m going to take it right off then [Music] i’ve got a branch coming straight forward here too and i don’t like that i’ve got a better branch off to the side and it’s kind of on the inside of the curve here so i’m going to get rid of it totally [Music] like that yeah that’s better you can see that trunk line a lot more uh i’ve got a dead branch coming up front here let’s get rid of that [Music] that one back this one back back just making this branch more compact and pruning it off here a big branch up here i gotta bring back okay now i’ve got a really long branch at the back here i think that needs reducing so we’ll take it back to here prune it more compact that’s better i’ll make these ones a bit more compact too all right from the front okay i don’t like this branch coming forward here i think i’m going to get rid of that or at least prune it back to here i’ll get rid of that forward branch here this branch here yeah that’s better [Music] i don’t think i like this one on the inside of the curve here i’m going to remove that and i’ve got kind of three parallel branches here i think i think i’m gonna get rid of the middle one maybe yeah the middle one it’s going like that that’s better now you can see this branch behind it here i got that dividing from one to three here that could be a problem in the future i think i’m going to take out the middle one of that like that keeping one kind of horizontal or cascading and the other one more upright and that that’s looking pretty good i’ve got a dead branch back here and it’s kind of makes you know three branches in this area i’m going to remove that i don’t like it as dead wood yeah that’s that’s looking good i think [Music] there’s something coming in here i think that’s got it there’s the view of the front a little spider up here boy oh boy [Music] [Music] [Music] i’ve got my two seaters pruned up my little cedar spirit tree and my witch’s tree now let’s go in and have a look and see how the roots are developing sometimes the hardest thing in bonsai is waiting waiting for the trees to grow waiting for these roots to grow around that rock but i have to have a look i just have to so i’ll remove some of the rocks and again you can see some of the roots growing across the surface of the soil here and there’s a rock back here i can remove i think i can remove it the tree’s fairly stable there so i think that’s the rockets planted on these are great big rocks back here really heavy let me try removing some of the oh that one was just a flat rock and this one so you can see some of the roots see how they’re developing in the soil there yeah doing all right yeah it’s starting to grip the rock like it’s i think it’s doing well yeah you can see the radial roots down here they’re kind of uh spreading out they’ll grow around that rock and thicken up so i think i’ll leave it another year before i start you know start reducing the soil level around the tree and i’ll do it in stages you know maybe the first year i’ll take a bit of soil off second year a little more and so on and there’ll have to be some root pruning you know roots that are sticking out in midair will have to get pruned away i only want to keep the roots that are hugging the rock so you know this one is probably no good here the surface root it’s sticking out in midair so that’ll get pruned away eventually even though it’s a nice root nice radial root but it’s just not growing against the rock i’ll put the rocks back now just to keep the roots protected to stop birds kicking away the soil and just keep the trees safe that should be good so i’ll put the tree back on the bench next is my witch’s tree and i want to remove some of the stones from here permanently because they’re really heavy it’s hard to lift this planting it’s like almost all rocks so i’ll take away some of them look at all the roots in there it’s amazing i think that’ll do for now that’s enough rocks removed yeah so a lot of roots growing that’s good to see these cedars do put out a lot of roots so [Music] again i’m going to wait another year before i start uncovering the root base and the the rock that it’s planted on i think it’s going to be a really good composition someday this was a sort of a a water lamp engine so i have the the stone to represent the shore of lake superior and the tree growing up there and i’ll put sand or something to represent the water in the lake area yeah it’s going to be really nice i think in the future really happy with these trees they’re they’re looking old and ancient there’s a train going by i was happy to get the cedars pruned up and i beat the rain so that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone you

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