Today I am sharing various photos of the growth progress of one of my two Douglas Fir bonsai trees. I'll take you through early Spring all the way through early Summer.
These types of articles I also use as part of my own system to chronicle the past view of my bonsai trees as they grow and react to my actions. Guess you could call this my personal Bonsai Blog.
Type: Douglas Fir
Age: 6 years
Grown: yamadori (collected from my own yard)
Last repotting: Late December 2019
Wired: Mid November 2019
Spring, Late April
Old needles on the tree and wire are making the tree look a bit weak and tired. It's waking up from dormancy and the buds are starting to swell with life.
Heavy rains coming in will add energy to the tree. It also needs as much full sun as possible shinning on the old needles. The tree will be using up all of its stored up energy saved in winter to push open the new buds.
From above it looks like a snarly knotted mess. It's my lovely mess of asymmetry and randomness.
No really, from above it may not look very pretty, but the goal is usually to make the front profile view look the most visually appealing, with multiple levels of branches.
Spring, Early May
The buds are bursting open. The branches are looking much more muscular now, swollen with sap. Renewed health is clearly reviving the tree.
A day later, I decided to remove all the wire and do some close-up photos.
The buds have grown out a lot in a single day.
It is nice to see that the branches are holding the positions well. The trunk is not very flexible, but all of the long branches have a very rubbery spring action in the wood.
With the wire gone, sap can flow more freely under the bark to react with the needles and roots. Swelling branches can fatten up.
I'd like to see lots more needles and buds on this tree eventually, but I'll settle for thicker branches for now if that is what the little tree wants to do. It is trying to survive in a small pot after all.
Summer, Early June
After lots of rainy days, which is odd in June, the weather changed and went into full blast heat mode. In a single day, I came home and noticed my tree had changed from minty green to peachy orange on top.
The tender new needles coming out of the buds on top got fried. New Spring needles, I forget need protection against the radiation on the first hot day of the year.
Not all of the needles suffered. Only the needles on green new shoots near the top.
All of the old needles form last year actually look very green and extra healthy. Those oldest needles were already mature and prepared to manufacture harsh sunlight. The youngest needles are still developing the ability to dim light.
Through the ashes and smoke, I do notice a gem in the rough.
All coniferous trees have a bit of a firey pheoneix super ability.
A good branch will have two or more buds on the tip. In June, look underneath the Douglas Fir branches for latent buds, often hidden halfway back in. This branch actually had 3 hidden buds. Latent buds behave like hidden emergency back-up systems in case the rest of the branch breaks off.
After a forest fire, or instance, their pinecones germinate from the hot ashes.
So too, on a hot day when the sun scalds the needles, new buds are quickly formed to replace the lost needles that are withering away.
All of the tender green shoots on this tree looked like they were starting to need a slight trim anyway. I decided to pluck off the ends of the newest shoots, and force the tree on focusing its energy on the oldest, healthy needles, and producing more buds. Latent buds should spring into production mode too.
Some of these weakest branch ends are going to brown up no matter what I do. With Conifers, usually needles and branches die off days or weeks earlier than they show signs of weakness, so you really need to know how to anticipate the needs of the tree.
Pinching off the ends will allow the tree to better spend its remaining energy on more productive parts of the tree. Still, I'll be moving the tree into the shade on hot days as an extra precaution.
The results surprised me. To my eye, the tree does not look tarnished at all.
We had another big rain storm that last over a week. The tree is looking green and well fertilized as a result.
This is the front view. To me it does not even look like the mirror image of the back view. A very different shape.
The deadwood jin on the trunk is beginning to define the space more permanently. Am I just getting used to the stubby end, or does it actually look like it serves an important part of the tree's design? Give me your fresh perspective if you have one.
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