Working on a Douglas Fir And a New Jade Bonsai

Working on a Douglas Fir And a New Jade Bonsai

After 2 1/2 years, my collected Douglas Fir trees are strong enough for the bonsai work to begin!
I’m also starting a large Jade bonsai from a really old cutting.

Video Transcript

We’ll be doing spring pruning starting with this douglas fir forest douglas firs only grow on the west coast of canada which is really really far away and you can’t get them here in ontario luckily i have my friend lesic who lives in alberta and he collected four douglas first for me brought them down to me in october of 2018. he uh took them on an airplane and they were folded up in a suitcase i’ll show you a little clip of that nigel first of all first of all i hope that this tree survived the whole um collection the whole collection process yeah because i got them about a week and a half ago here’s the douglas first yeah in a suitcase fit in the suitcase yeah yeah and amazing what two rolls of uh of so anyway yeah i i just think i don’t think that it’s gonna and again beautiful yeah you’ll be able you’ll be seeing this one this one’s marking everything else yeah exactly all right so you can do something with it i don’t know so that knob isn’t sticking there so i think i’ll reduce that down a bit i’ll use the saw to reduce this down i want to cut as little root off these trees as possible and this one was already cut so i’m keeping all my fine feeder roots i’ll get the next tallest tree unwrap now i think we’re getting close to uh watering the planting the planting is all finished lassic did the best job he could collecting the trees i did the best job i could planting them so i’ll just have to see how they grow in the future of the four trees only one of them died it was the one at the back here which is the closest to a formal upright style so i was kind of disappointed to lose that one but it just slowly got weaker and weaker and never never gained strength and it eventually just died so i’ve got three good douglas first to work with now here’s a look at the size of the trees so i’ve got a fairly compact tree here with a very thick kind of gnarly trunk on it really nice and then i’ve got some slimmer ones it’s not so slim the second one it’s got a fairly thick base on it but it’s it’s tall very tall and my plans were to create a big lonely dug which is a a big tall douglas fir that survived logging out in british columbia and i’ll show you some photos of that [Music] leicester transported these trees in a suitcase on an airplane and flew in from out west to ontario here so these trees were folded in half that’s why they kind of have a bit of a bend to the trunk down here so if i’m going to create a big lonely dug out of one of these trees i’ll need to straighten it up so i might do that today um put a support alongside it and straighten the tree up the shortest tree here is looking really good i’ll show you a picture of kind of a tree that resembles this style [Music] i want this tree to be similar to that kind of style so it just needs to be brought in more compact and maybe you know getting a a little more of a conical crown on it but other than that i don’t want to uh i don’t want to change the looks of it too much it’s got a couple of lower branches here that are kind of hugging the ground and normally i think most people would prune those off but i really like them i think that’s a cool feature on the tree to have these low branches here there’s a lot of dead wood on the tree but you know you can see it budding back on old wood here which is amazing this uh this one doesn’t look so healthy here but up top there’s some so what i’ve got to do with this tree is on these douglas firs all the vigor goes to the top of the tree and you can see that you can see the foliage density at the top so i’ve got to prune it back at the top prune and pinch it back and let the bottom grow so by reducing the foliage up here more energy will go into these lower branches and you’ll get a kind of a fuller tree you won’t get all the bottom branches dying off so that’s the plan with that just to make it more compact and a little more conical i’m going to get the forest on my spinning tree bonsai turntable and i’ll show you the back of the [Music] planting here’s the back of the planting and you can see i placed a lot of stones around the trees to hold them in the pot until the roots got established because they’re fairly tall trees and the wind would whip them around i needed to hold them securely in the pot these stones make the pot weigh quite a bit so i’ll be glad to finally remove some of the stones all right here i go i’ll remove this stone first like that and i can see all the micro riser underneath here and the roots from the douglas first i’ll remove this stone also like that take that one away and i i think i’ll leave the big one in here for now i kind of like it it really adds to the landscape i think you can see that i planted the trees quite deeply in the pot i i pile the soil up around the trunks so i can rake that away today kind of exposing the root base on the trees and seeing what you know the surface roots look like all right here i go with the root rake and i’ll just break out the soil here trying to find you know the root base of this main tree today i’m in for a hot day uh it’s going to be up to 32 degrees celsius which in may is quite warm there’s the root base i can see it down there so this tree had a fairly good root base on it it wasn’t perfect but it had a pretty good root base i was really happy i was just happy getting the trees yeah you can’t get douglas fir trees in ontario here i’ve never seen them for sale i don’t think i’ve ever seen one as a bonsai in ontario okay i’ll give the base of the tree a water just so i can see the roots a little more clearly yeah it’s a nice looking root base on this tree it looks really rugged looking a lot of character in the bark on this tree so i’ve got a little too much soil on this side of the pot i might have to get rid of this moss just too bad but a lot of weeds in it too it’ll all grow back so i was just in looking at reference pictures of the douglas first before i started this work today which i always try and do so you get a clear idea in your mind of what makes a douglas fir look like a douglas fir what the characteristics are of the tree in nature and i try and duplicate that on my my bonsai i think once all this dries you’ll see the root base quite clearly it won’t be quite as dark i will leave the dead tree in there for now and maybe even when i go to repot this probably i won’t repot these trees for probably another year or two this is a big pot there’s no urgency to repot them health-wise and i want the roots to get you know nice and established in this bone-sized soil they should grow a really nice fine fibrous root system and yeah there’s no sense rushing the repotting until the trees are super healthy which they’re getting to be really healthy now i’m just pruning away some of the surface roots that are sticking up i’ve got the surface of the soil all cleaned up now so it’s down to a good level for the trees you can see the root base there i’ve left the rock in there with the bear so the next step is to do some pruning work on the trees and i’ll start with this main tree here kind of reducing the foliage back a bit to make it more compact here’s the apex of the tree so i’ve got a world of branches started to form the new leader i think it was pruned off here by lusic when the tree was collected so this is the new apex and i can shorten it a little bit if you look at this branch i’ve got a branch here one here one here so there’s three coming from one spot here so i’m going to take the one this one off that’s duplicated by one below so like that and then i’ll just pinch the tips back and that’ll help keep the tree more compact so i’ll just grab the chute pinch the tip out pinch the tip out pinch the tip out the other branch here at the apex is a very similar thing it has two branches down lower here two branches down lower and then two up top so i’m going to reduce i’m going to take it right down to those two branches taking the top off that chute this one here i’ve got it subdividing down lower i’ve got three branches up top and three branches on the other branch so i want to reduce three branches always to two if possible so i’ll take this one off the inside one and i’ll take the outside one off here i’m looking for nice flowing lines i don’t want my the forks and the branches to be you know too splayed out i want them tightly more more of a tight angle and then i’ll just pinch the tips off of these ones just shortening them like that so that takes care of the apex branches and now i’m down to my second tier branches so i’ve got a whirl here i’ve got three branches coming from one spot on the trunk these whirls on spruce trees and this douglas fir it happens like that in nature so unless you get a really thick ball forming here there’s not much point reducing the world down to like one or two branches it may become a problem in the future i don’t know but i’ll keep my eyes on it so i’ve got a really strong branch up here you can see it here it comes out from the trunk divides into two i’ve got a new shoot there two again two again one and then the tip so i’m going to take the tip off for sure so i’ll take it right back to here taking the tip off the branch and i may reduce it further it’s starting to get quite sprayed splayed out or quite spread out is the word i’m looking for from the trunk so i want to keep my growth fairly compact i like the branch but it’s just getting too wide so there is a there’s a branch coming off the bottom of the branch which is nice i could reduce the branch right back to that and i think i will so i’m going to take it off i’m going to leave a little room for die back here right to here off it comes i won’t pinch anything in this area because i wanted to develop some vigor this sort of weak lower branch now i’m coming over to the one off to this side of the apex i’ve got a chute coming straight up here that i could reduce the branch back to and i think i will i’m going to come back to here taking the tip off that branch i’m going to remove the tip off this one just pinch it off not remove it now pinch back some of these other ones just to kind of balance the vigor a bit and then off this branch i have three branches coming from one spot so i’m going to take off this side one here that gives this other branch a little more light and that’s it for that top whirl so i’m going down the tree now there’s a weaker branch here it has three branches coming off from one spot i’m going to take one of them off and it’ll be this one reducing it to two shoots and i’m not going to pinch it because this chute isn’t that strong yeah there’s one out the back here i think it is part of this top whirl here um i’m there’s a shoe coming out the bottom so i’ll take the tip off the branch here replacing it with the one underneath and it is quite vigorous i’ll just pinch the tip off do a little pinching on it i’m going to there’s a branch coming off of it here kind of growing underneath the other branch i’m going to remove that like that so that’s sorted out there’s a strong branch at the back here that i need to bring it back more compact so i’m going to take it off here taking the entire tip off the branch like that then just a little bit of pinching on these there’s a branch here again i can take the tip off of it i will i’ll take it off to here like that and just a little bit of pinching on these remaining branches just kind of removing the tip of them and that’s good for that branch the remaining branches are fairly weak i guess this one oh front is the strongest one um it’s not real strong i’m going to i’m just going to pinch this part of it back trying to get some strength into the upper chute there and then maybe next year i can take the lower part of the branch off this part here down here and keep the upper part shortening the branch back there’s a branch out back here that’s fairly strong i’ll just pinch the tip of it this branch here i could reduce back a bit take the tip off that one it’s fairly strong i think that’s going to be it on that tree all these lower branches can gain vigor i’ve reduced the upper part of the tree kind of suppressing the vigor there a bit let’s do a little more pinching here here’s a look at the douglas fir from the front now and you can see it’s reduced in size a little bit it’s not quite so spreading and i’m very happy with the very first work done to the tree at this point you can’t do a whole lot you can reduce the vigor in the top and as the tree gets older you’ll find you’ll get more back budding the tree will start gaining even more vigor as you get more needles on the tree it’ll uh that it really improves the vigor of the tree more needle density and yeah usually the uh the trees should just gain strength as they get older the other two trees in the planting i was waiting to see if they would you know upright themselves and they may over time i’m sure they would but i may have to stake them upright try and straighten those trunks out today so i’ll have to find something i can attach to the side of the trunk like a pole or a piece of piping or something or if i had bamboo i could use that something stiff that i can put beside the trunk and straighten the trees up i think before i straighten the trees out i’m going to try and reduce them in height these trees are really tall i don’t think i’d have any way of transporting them other than using the truck so i like to keep my trees down in height so i can fit them in you know the back of the car at least in the hatchback so i’m gonna see if i can find a suitable place along the trunks where i can cut them back i have a lot of new buds coming off the trunk in this area so i’m thinking that this could be my apex around here and i could remove this entire top off the tree because i do want to get it down and hide it’s it’s very tall this tree it’s a beautiful apex it’s just it’s just too large so i’ve got to develop a new one so i think this is a suitable height if i reduce it any lower i’m not getting much taper in the trunk i think it would look too pull-like maybe for now anyway i’ll uh i’ll take it off here so i’m going to come in and just do a a cut i’ll leave a little room for die back taking the entire top off here i go like that so that’s a big cut i’m gonna see if i can count the growth rings on it too i’m going to look at the rings now so i have got one two three four five six seven rings so this tree is about seven years old i’m going to try and reduce the height of the third tree here now i’ve got to pick a suitable place it’s got a good strong branch here one down below new shoots coming off the trunk there there’s no real a really good place to reduce it back i think i’ll have to keep this strong branch up top here and take it back to here so here i go like that taking that whole top off now my next step i’ll need to reduce the apex is back you know reducing these long branches back maybe just keeping the ones that are closer to the trunk to try and get that you know a tighter tree so it’s not big loose branches on it so it’s all kind of tighter and more miniature so i’m going to reduce the size of the apex on this tree first um i’ve got some thick branches up here and i’ve got some new shoots coming out on the trunk here which are look really healthy so i can either take these long branches right off and develop new branches or just prune them back and try and get back budding and slowly kind of reduce them it’s tough choice you don’t want to kill the tree because you’re removing all the foliage from it and there’s a few dead branches up on the tree here too i think i’m gonna have to take them right off they’re just too thick compared to the trunk so i’ll take them right off at the base so there’s one gone just clean that up a bit here like that there’s a dead branch here i’ll reduce back so this one here is dead so i’ll just take it off shorter like that there’s another dead one here i can take off short this one’s alive i’m just take the tip off of it it’s not very thick at the base so that one’s okay this one’s all right i’m going to let that one grow there’s a shoot here there’s a few old needles here so maybe something will develop in this area and then i can reduce it back later i’ll have to be patient with that one this one i’m going to take right off it’s got a lot of good foliage out here but it’s very thick so i’ve got you know a lot of smaller shoots in that same area so i can take it right back so that’s gone like that there’s some more dead wood here that’s too long i’ll take that back another one here another one here one here take that one off a little shorter another dead one here i can take back the rest i think can just be left to grow these lower branches i don’t know if i could maybe reduce this one back a little bit take the tip off like that i was looking at the first tree i pruned here and this branch is quite vigorous here and it’s kind of shading out the ones below i think i’ve got to reduce this one back it has a lot of foliage on it so i will i’ll uh pick a point i think i think somewhere here i’ll take i’ll leave this little chute here take it off right here like that maybe just do a little pinching on it now i’m going to come down here and just see how flexible these trunks are if i can straighten them maybe i should have done it right away yeah they don’t they’re not very flexible yeah i don’t know there’s a bit of disease or something on this tree or some kind of insect attack i’ll show you what it looks like i’ll rotate it around there’s a look at it there and you can see there’s all these scars all on this side of the tree i don’t know if it was a result of collection if if you know this branches were somehow torn off here or branches died off and it’s scar tissue i’m not really sure i haven’t noticed any health problems with the tree because of it so it may be just some kind of scar tissue that’s formed there’s some dead wood on this third tree that’s too long i’ll take it back here’s an overall look at the forest now the douglas fir forest it has a long way to go but i made some progress today i don’t think i can straighten those trees out i think they’re just i should have done it right away i guess i thought they might straighten out like some trees like larch and that tend to straighten out very quickly after they’ve been bent and they will continue to straighten out in the future i’m sure it may be in all that scarring on the one tree it might be because it was bent and it damaged tissue along at the bend point and then you know it kind of died up up the trunk at that point and then it scarred over so it could be because it’s all on one side of the tree which leads me to that conclusion so i’m going to leave it i’m not going to try and straighten the trunks out anymore i’ll let nature do its thing and i i think you’ll see over the upcoming years that they’ll continually get straighter i find that most trees they’re trying to they tend to straighten out spruces larches everything so we’ll leave it i think uh i think that’s enough work on the tree for today i think it’s made a few steps forward kind of exciting to see see it developing and to actually be able to work on the tree i’m a long way off from creating my big lonely doug douglas fir tree but we’ve taken some steps in the right direction i’m going to finish up the douglas first today by giving them some water and fertilizer giving them a good thorough watering and put them back on the bench in goes my fertilizer give it a stir up and i can water [Music] it’s time to leave canada with these canadian trees and go to africa connor the president of our kw bonsai society came across this giant jade tree that was growing in a greenhouse and the owner had to get rid of it so connor bought it and then he planted a forest with it and he had a lot of leftover cuttings that he was selling and the the money from the sales went back to the kw bonsai society so he brought all the cuttings to uh a parking lot and gave them out to members for a 10 donation so i got one cutting off the giant jade and i’ll show you what it looks like what is it that’s crazy here’s the cutting that i picked and i picked this one because it had really cool bark on it kind of peeling off it’s an indication that it’s a really old jade plant connor pruned this cutting off the main tree probably three months ago so it’s well calloused over at the cut point so this can be planted directly into bone size soil given a good thorough watering put outside and left to grow jades are a succulent that means they store a lot of water in the trunk and you can feel the weight of it it’s quite heavy so i’ll have to find a pot that’s fairly deep and plant the cutting deeply in the pot so it doesn’t tip over especially once the foliage starts coming out and it starts getting really heavy up top so i’ll have to look for kind of a a deep not too big not too small pot here’s a look at the pot i’ve picked out so it’s a clay pot it’s not too deep not too shallow not too big not too small i think it’ll be perfect for this jade at least you know to get the roots going and get it growing and developing and then i can always put it in a a different pot later on i’ll put a drainage screen in the bottom of the pot and fill it probably about halfway with bonsai soil all right here i go i have to be careful not to breathe that dust in the soil i’m using is bonsai soil it’s the stuff i mixed up for my ficus so it’s it’s half perlite half safety’s orb or fuller’s earth and then i mixed in for chunks of fur bark maybe 10 20 of that so it’s a nice loose porous mix see it’s hard to over water trees when they’re in this kind of a mix it can still be done with succulents but a typical tree you can’t really over water them when they’re in this loose kind of porous soil so that’s full enough i can put the tree in now all right here i go i’m going to put the tree right in the center of the pot i’m just wondering is that too high too low and go a little higher to there all right let’s get it filled up now and i’ll top it up so the soil level is just below the lip of the pot here’s a look at my new jade in its pot i think it looks quite good i am going to give it a thorough watering because the cutting as i said it’s calloused over completely and i think you know a bit of moisture in that soil stimulate the roots to grow and it should take off so i’ll leave this outside on the bench in full sun and if it rains i’ll bring it in because it’s okay to water it thoroughly but you don’t want it out for a whole day of rain it just keeps all that moisture around the roots and they can start rotting it’ll rot up the trunk so i do water it thoroughly when i do water it but i make sure when i do water it’s a nice sunny day with no rain and then i let it dry out completely and then completely water it again thoroughly water it again and i always keep it out of the rain quite a while ago connor also mentioned that he bought a valve for his water tank and it wasn’t the right thread so he sent the specs to me and i measured up the thread i had on mine and it looked like the right thing so i said yeah i’ll buy it off yes so he brought that down the other day also so i’ve installed it and i’ll show you how it works now whenever i need rainwater i just bring my watering can here open up the valve and there’s two liters of water in here two liters of rain water i am going to add a very small amount of fertilizer to my rain water that much to two liters stir it in there and then i can water the jade so this amount of fertilizer it’s so weak that it would never burn any new roots forming or anything that’s why i always fertilize often and very weakly here i go with the water and you should see the water drain right through the soil it shouldn’t pool up or anything so here i go i’ll place some rocks on the surface of the soil just for extra security so there’s no danger of the jade tipping over i’ve got three rocks here these two are from the douglas fir planting and a third one that they all kind of match each other so i’ll use those once the jade starts growing really nicely i can remove the rocks it’ll have enough root to hold it up by itself that’s all the bones i work i’ll be doing in this video i’m going to put the jade back on the bench in full sun and i’ll get out the project i’ll be working on for the next video coming up on the next video is my bog forest here and it’s made up of black spruce in the background and north american larch is in the foreground and it features some dead spruce trees kind of in the middle so the planting it’s come out in spring the larches have leafed out or needled out and the spruce is getting uh new shoots on it and they’re starting to get a little long and everything needs a bit of pinching and maybe a little bit of pruning so i’m really happy with the look of the forest i think it still looks nice and miniature yeah i i’m uh i can’t wait to see it in fall when those larches in the front turn that golden yellow color and i still have the green spruce in the background so that’s coming up on the next video here’s a look at the bird’s nest spruce now the dead wood is looking really nice the canopy’s looking good the branches are drooping looks really cool yeah a nice little tree and very old i’ve had this for over 25 years i’ll end the video here in the glorious sunshine on a very hot day at the beginning of this video i was working on a very canadian landscape with the douglas first then we went to africa with the jade tree and now we’re back to canada that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone

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